Featured, Music, Pop Culture, Theory & Essay

In Defense of Aspiring Rappers Everywhere

On last night’s episode of FX’s awesomely awesome new show, the Donald Glover-helmed, Atlanta, there’s a scene towards the end where Earn’s kinda-sorta girlfriend but definitely baby mama, Vanessa, is doing that thing that people do when you tell them that you do “music”, she lets him know that being an aspiring rapper – or manager in Earn’s case – is basically a pipe dream and he needs to get real to help take care of their daughter. He fires back that being a boutique owner (I guess she’s either the owner of a boutique or aspires to do so) isn’t anymore original which pisses her off.

He then delivers one of those, “I believe in me and everything that I’m doing I’m doing for us” speeches that is met with a “that’s so much bullshit” line, reminiscent of that debut Cosby Show episode where Theo attempts to “but Dad, I’m trying my best and you should support me…” Cliff only to be met with the “that is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard”, a classic boomerang on Theo who thought he had tugged at the heartstrings of his father. Dad’s don’t have heartstrings for bullshit. Apparently, neither does Vanessa.

There are a few things of note here: while Vanessa thinks that Earn’s hip-hop dreams are bullshit, I actually agree with him that her owning of a boutique is just as much of a pipe dream. But somehow, people view hip-hop aspirations much differently. Yes, it’s very trendy to be a rapper. But in the most punishable pun of all time, it’s JUST as trendy to do “clothes” for a living. Sure everybody raps, but everybody and their mama is also trying to open a store and sell their fashion sense to people who maybe “just don’t get it”. I don’t actually know what makes them different, and I’m not being difficult on purpose.

Full disclosure, at one point, I was an aspiring rapper. Actually, I should probably clarify that: back in 2004, I was an aspiring songwriter at the behest of a friend of mine, who ended up becoming very interested in music production and needed somebody to either rap or sing over my own works (and those of my musical partner), so instead of waiting for somebody to show up, I decided to rap myself. I’m not saying I was awesome, but I wasn’t trash either. And at the very least my musical soundbeds were solid. I can’t tell you how many people, women specifically, viewed it all as just some “hobby” not to be taken seriously while SIMULTANEOUSLY expecting me to be supportive of whatever business or dream jobs they aspired to. It was the source of many arguments, but in almost NO situation was there ever any sort of belief that attempting to be a rapper and attempting to do any other dream were similar. Folks respect dreams as long as they don’t include aspiring rapper. I’ve always found that odd.

At the same time, I get it. We all have family who would rather “be a rapper” than get a job. Or folks who pretend like “doing music” is something that actually pays unless you do the work. But if you see somebody actively attempting to put in the work and producing tangible outcomes, rocking shows, etc., I think you should give them at least some support. Now, if they’re entirely fucking off their responsibilities, that’s one thing, which I think is what Vanessa is getting at in Atlanta. Earn, despite his best efforts, isn’t really coming through in any capacity the way she needs him to for their daughter. But he’s trying. (Now if he fucks off their kids money or something, she has every right to force him into retirement.)

Back to aspiring rappers, and supporting them: Everybody is aspiring for something. Everybody. It might not be fame and riches from rapping. It could be aspiring to have a nice garden, whatever. The point is, for many of us, all we have is our dreams. They keep us going. They keep us going. Without them, most of us would be zombies and even Fela hated them. I know that it seems odd when a person with advanced degrees and a career is still buying recording equipment and forcing their music on you, in stealth, via emails about other things and adding, “yo, did you check out that song at the end? It’s me. What you think?”, but I mean, you have to shot your shot, right?

And yes, a lot of people suck. But that’s okay. Personal expression, something that people seem to be so big on nowadays, shouldn’t be stifled. Here’s why: There’s an audience for EVERYONE. It’s just a matter of finding it. You cannot convince me that Lil Yachty is a good artist. But I know who he is and this cat is making appearances on albums from rappers I like and listen to on purpose. I’m sure LOTS of people told him to stop, and if he did, who knows what he’d be doing. Instead, I’m talking about him right now as a rapper who can’t actually rap but in today’s climate makes more than my dentist (according to him).

Point is, being an aspiring rapper is one of those things where nobody sees it as valuable or worthwhile until they hear you on their own on the radio or see a video or something that you didn’t send them. All of a sudden they’ll start introducing you as the “rapper” friend they have. I seen the same shit happen to Kane…well, not really. But it happens with writing/blogging too. You tell folks you have a blog and nobody gives a shit until your posts are being sent all over the Internet and the next thing you know folks are like, “this is my writer friend, his blog is pretty popular, you’ve probably heard of it…”

So if you see an aspiring rapper, hug an aspiring rapper. Sure he or she shouldn’t quit their day job, but neither should you. We all have dreams; stop shitting on theirs.

At some point Jay-Z and Snoop Doggy Dogg were aspiring rappers. Now they’re world-wide names that have made millions off of rhyming.

Because of good timing.


I’m a rapper.

I’m not.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • Ray Jefferies

    *Takes out notepad*

    Stealth – e-mail – with – music – attached

    *clicks pen and puts away notepad*

    Between this and the guy that was putting his mixtapes in kids Halloween bags, and that other guy that was putting mixtapes in people’s drive through orders, I have been clearly soft hustling. These dudes are out here imposing their very will on reality and I’m just leaving a link in a bio.

    • Shuntayvious I?HILLARY














  • Amen

    My rap dreams never extended beyond cafeteria table beats and freestyle sessions at parties. You say one hot line, get gassed up by your boys, and several months and one Fruity Loops subscription later, you wonder what happened to the fall semester of your sophomore year.

  • HouseOfBonnets

    *Opens up pool for first appearance of soundcloud/Dapiff link,place bets below*

    Overall I understand where you’re coming from Panama everyone’s dream/aspiration should be supported especially if the potential/will to grind is there but what if you have priorities? I mean dreams are great but they’re not gonna pay medical bills or buy food so what is so wrong with maybe refocusing on bringing in income and using the off time to work towards what you want to do? When it’s just you it’s easier for others to support that standpoint imo my little bro is 23 and a aspiring comedian/Comedy Writer, He’s really talented and want’s to write for a show like SNL one day. As his big sis the best advice I can give him is to focus on his dreams and don’t settle down because in a sea of teen/young parents throughout our family he’s a rare case and I would hate to see something derail him from what could have been. If he had children I doubt I would be telling him the same thing.

  • QueenAnnaT

    I’m co-mingling with an aspiring rapper (twin brothers) here in Atlanta. I brought the album and the remix album via Google Play and I stream his music overnight (via Spotify and on mute), to support him [sidenote: he doesn’t know I do this, don’t want to seem creepy].

    Putting yourself out there, via rap, for all to critique isn’t an easy thing. I was “Lady Lethal” for a good 6 months in the BlackPlanet rap chat room before I realized, I’m not cut for this life.

    • Link or it didn’t happen

      • QueenAnnaT

        Links to Blackplanet or the dude I’m tryna smash music?

        • Yours

          • QueenAnnaT

            Did you hear me say BlackPlanet. Lol I don’t even think those screen grabs would be available. Is BP still a thing? I think it morphed into BlackPeopleMeet and then MeetBlackPeople

  • HouseOfBonnets

    Also in the realm of music when should you call it quits if you haven’t popped yet?

    • themightiest

      30. If it hasn’t happened by then its not gonna happen.

      • mr. steal your costco samples

        sunk cost fallacy is real. folks never quit and i’m not mad at it at all. no worse than having a bad unfinished novel in the drawer

      • Brandon Allen

        2 Chainz begs to differ.

        • Brooklyn_Bruin

          Formerly known as Titi-boi

          I’d be mad at Luda for letting me keep that name

          • wakakaja

            I’ll never forget that scene on MTV Cribs, “We call him Titi-boi ’cause he was breastfed.” WHAT?

            • Brooklyn_Bruin

              It’s very country

        • Some places you can just eat decently off local support…if 2 Chainz was from Hartford Connecticut he would drive Uber

          • Brandon Allen

            True. I feel like people struggling in major cities don’t realize they have a leg up most of the time.

          • This is very true!

    • miles b

      I don’t think there should be an age limit, but if you’ve been doing it for 5 years or longer and have no traction you should probably hang it up.

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      Musicians make music.
      They don’t stop.

      Do they keep trying to get into the “industrial rap complex” is what the issue is.

    • You never quit, you just move operaton to weekends in the mancave

    • Adrienne_in_MTown

      See Twista.

  • Brandon Allen

    Nothing wrong with being an “aspiring” anything. People with no aspirations are lame.

    As for music….Soooo many people go through an aspiring musician phase. It’s just that “rap” requires the least equipment and skills. If you’re clever you can come up with something.

    Most people don’t actually sew at boutiques, they just buy wholesale stuff they like and flew like they got taste.

    Anyway…Panama I got plenty of beats for that VSB mixtape.

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      ” Most people don’t actually sew at boutiques, they just buy wholesale stuff they like and flew like they got taste.”


      Folks be like, I’ve got good taste, lemme see if I can turn my shopping habits into a business.

      No, that’s not how business works.

      And chances are high that would be retailers bought everything fly on sale.

      Now super shopper is looking at all that inventory realizing that to move it, they’ll have to cut all of the profit, and probably lose money.

      Amazon sells everything and was not profitable (as a retailer) for a long time

      • LadyJay?

        How does that business work? The boutique

        • Brooklyn_Bruin

          An old school brick and mortar boutique works on foot traffic and word of mouth advertising.

          In internet terms, you need traffic to your site before you can get conversions.

          Indeed, getting people to see you stuff is probably the most important thing any business can do. (After failing in many businesses with my own “killer apps”)

          A new school online boutique is exactly the same, except your competitor is one click away selling the same Jordan rip offs you found on Ali Baba.

          Easier to set up online, but more comp.

          Offline, more risk, less comp.

          There are billion dollar industries around both of these topics. Wish I would have read a few before I started my custom flavor chew stick service.

    • Crawford

      So true about musicians. At least for those who can play an instrument you can always be hired at a church or for a wedding.

      • Brandon Allen

        Music is fun. It can always be a side hustle or a hobby.

        • Crawford

          Very true. Maybe we need to encourage more people to not see everything as a win or lose situation. You can just rap on the side or rap for your cousin’s daughter’s sweet sixteen.

      • Or giving lessons. Parents always willing to pay for piano lessons.

  • QueenAnnaT

    I tell folks from the hood (Dade County) you have to make money to make money. Until your track drops or get in rotation, you gotta have a hustle to support your hustle. Even Rick Ross was a correctional officer, while he building up his rap image and tracks. Also, people need to learn how to make to monetize their talents. That takes investing time (via mentorship, etc.) or money (classes) before jumping into anything.

    We think, “I got bar. So Ima press out this $4 mix tape.” But did you build a brand? A following? A differentiating factor? Nicki Minaj became Nicki Minaj after development. Not just great bars.

    Rappers, like boutiques, on every corner.

    • thutch24

      Dade County? Home team what they do?11 #Goombay #UncleAl #99Jamz LMAO!

      • QueenAnnaT

        Aye! #PureFunk #BrownSub #Bulls

  • Crawford

    I’d argue anything to do with the arts will be met with a “that’s nice, dear” at best and a “get a real job!” at worst. Rap definitely gets the worst of it because, on the outside looking in, doesn’t require as much work as say doing a fashion line or building weird metal statues.
    All I have to say is have a job that can fund your aspirations until you can make a living or at least survive on your art.

  • Aspiring Power Rankings
    0* Model
    1. Chef
    2. Hairstylist
    3. Erotica Writer
    4. MUA
    5. Fashion Designer (with actual material)
    6. Podcaster
    7. Artist
    8. Fashion Designer (with sketches)
    9. Music producer
    10. Rapper

    • Crawford

      Might need to add YouTuber to the list.

      • Tambra

        Where would you rank YouTubers?

        • Julian Green

          Better question: how would you define “YouTuber” in the first place?

          • Tambra

            Persons who ” create content” with the aim of monetizing, even if it means unwrapping toys.

            • Maranica

              I know a two year old who can watch a woman’s hands open eggs for 30 minutes. Millions of views for wrapping eggs in playdough. Now I entertain the kid by hiding little things in playdough and having her find it.

              • Tambra

                Yeah seriously. I have seen my little cousin do that. The persons who hit upon this are evil geniuses.

        • Crawford

          Probably alongside Podcaster since they tend to run in the same circles (there have been a few YouTubers who are doing podcasts now).

          • Tambra

            I do not mind Podcasts but I hate those YouTube type Podcasts, maybe it is those I have viewed. They are extremely dry.

            • Crawford

              I’ve been listening to quite a few and you start to notice who has a radio-made voice and program (Another Round is a good example) vs. someone just hanging out with friends who just happen to have audio equipment around. Nothing wrong with the latter, but just don’t expect it to be lucrative.

    • Amen

      No respect for the Instagram models i see lol

    • Brandon Allen

      Makeup Artist….Personal Trainer…

      • Crawford

        Personal guru who tells you that you need some crystals in your life.

      • KaytotheBee

        Eyelashes. A girl I know just does is Eyelashes. A strip or individual.

        • Nik White

          Not even eyebrows?

          • KaytotheBee

            Nope, just lashes. Got a little studio for it too.

            • always right

              there’s like two eyelash bars pretty close to where i live in. but then again, i do live in dallas and these women down here love them some fake eyelashes. i had never witnessed so many women with fake eyelashed until i moved here.

              • PinkRose

                Everything the majority of Black women wear in Texas is fake.

                • Tambra


                • WAAAIIIITTTTT Pink… you might wanna rethink that statement.

                  We have a lot of Texas women on here

                  • PinkRose

                    As an occasional wig wearer IN Texas (eyelashes too, ’cause middle age), I prefer to keep this convo 100. And that means exactly what said the first time!

                    That said, the weave situation in Texas is UNREAL, how you gon’ have a jacked up grill, some turnover shoes, and a tight Pocahontas weave past your booty?

                    • “The said, the weave situation in Texas is UNREAL…

                      Well I cosign all of this

                    • MsSula

                      Don’t confuse Dallas with Texas though.

        • Tambra

          Just lashes? Oh well I suppose there are people who do not know how to apply them

          • KaytotheBee

            Yep, those things are big in my city.

            • Tambra

              Ohh, I guess. Maybe because I am just a mascara when I do remember type. Do not see the appeal though.

              • KaytotheBee

                Me either..Im the “oh yea, I got some mascara” type too.

              • PinkRose

                You loose lashes as you get older, trust me!

        • cakes_and_pies

          Body Wrappers and Waist Training aficionados

          • Tambra

            Stop Khardashian shaming.

            • cakes_and_pies

              THEY NEED TO BE STOPPED.

              • Tambra

                I agree but at this stage they are one of those drug resistant bacteria.

                • cakes_and_pies

                  That family is the living embodiment herpes and Hep C.

                  • Deeds

                    Haha…Well not herpes, at least herpes goes away for a while.

                    • cakes_and_pies

                      It’s still there if it’s dormant, waiting for a Black man…I mean host to infect.

          • KaytotheBee

            Sadly, I fell victim to the Waist Trainer..I wore it for 1 hour and it has been in the corner of my closet since.

            • Tambra

              Lol. I gave away mine. Maybe because it was too big. I didn’t know it was supposed to be stop your breath tight.

            • cakes_and_pies

              You live and you learn.

          • B-Dot Willz

            I’m starting to think that the waist trainer folks are the worst. Oh and stop trying to sell me some damn tea!!!

            • cakes_and_pies

              At least the whole Herbalife boom is over. Aggressive network marketers make my @$$ itch.

            • HouseOfBonnets

              They’re now randomly tagging you in post…. They are worse than spammers.

        • delicateflower

          Eyelash extensions are about $380 a month. I can’t be mad at her.

          • Tambra

            Per application?

            • delicateflower

              For mink extensions it’s approximately $1 per lash. For most people that about 190 to 200 hairs. As you loose lashes you have to get replacement extensions applied.

              • Tambra

                Oh, I see. I shall stick to the occasional mascara.

          • miss t-lee

            Tell em.
            That’s a for real hustle.

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      It’s funny, because a lot of these you can test and get feedback and get better. But that’s not what happens

      I see more folks “starting to start”, as opposed to actually doing.

    • DM.

      0.5 IG model
      *booking info in bio*

    • 3 is a fun side hustle. You won’t get rich, but you will get some walking around money and a few stories to boot.

      • Tambra

        You’ve tried you hand at it?

        • Yes! Actually, I did it for fun, and a few people offered me cash for it. It’s hard to make a living at it, but it’s not hard to get some cash.

          • Tambra

            50 shades type?
            Disclaimer never read the books or seen the movie but heard they are generally bad.

            • Nah. BDSM wasn’t my thing at the time. Plenty raunchy, but not in that lane.

              • Tambra

                Ohhhh. Now I am intrigued.

            • Oluseyi

              It’s not hard to exceed 50 Shades. Never read it either, but the descriptions (and movie reviews) suggest kink as written by someone who’s never had chex with the lights on.

              • Tambra

                Oh shid! Dayum.

      • Deeds

        Out of all of those Tristan listed, I could see myself doing that as a side hustle under a pseudonym.

        • Tambra

          Maybe the first. I can hold my own it the kitchen but if given the opportunity I will do a cooking course from basic up,inclusive of boiling an egg.

          • B-Dot Willz

            See a cooking class is a life skill that people would pay to learn. That is something that could benefit you in life. People would definitely pay for that so there is money to be made there. Some of those others are a bit sketchy.

            • Tambra

              True enough. I enjoy cooking, baking more I must admit. I want to learn different techniques. Sewing is not a bad life skill too though.

              • PDL – Cape Girl Shero

                Sur La Table give cooking lessons. Not sure if there is one near you. I don’t particularly frequent the store but I go there for birthday and Christmas gifts. Cooking classes are in the back. There’s a separated kitchen

                • Tambra

                  I live in the Caribbean so that not an option but would be something I would like to experience. Thanks for the suggestion though.

                  • PDL – Cape Girl Shero

                    Sure. If you’re ever in Georgia or California. Those are two states I know for sure.

                    • Tambra

                      When I come to the states it is mainly NY. Though I have been promising my cousin in Ohio that I would visit him for years now, and every year he keeps reminding me.

                    • Kas

                      Don’t go

                    • Tambra

                      Why not?

                    • Kas

                      It’s Ohio

                    • Tambra

                      Backwater? I know I shall not be visiting Tennessee, I have had several invitations for there but there are limits to my adventurism and wish to see the world.

        • write us something seductive

      • Val

        Once again, Todd, we need a post from you.

    • I slightly take offense to #4, MUA.
      I freelance outside of my full-time. I go to continuing education classes, trade shows and assist full time artist.
      And nah bih…I aint not IG MUA.

    • Murphdigatis

      I’m #6!!!!
      And add #11: photographer

  • One of my former students dropped a mixtape last December. He transferred to our high school as a junior. Evolved from a decent to a good writer. He loved Kendrick Lamar; when he stayed after school for essay feedback, I introduced his young a$$ to Nas and we dissected “Illmatic” together. Him and a bunch of his classmates (all persisting in college) made a makeshift studio and put in the work. I’m real proud of him.

    To help keep them in school, I’m seeking paid internships at radio stations and record labels so they can combine their artistry with their educations. Doesn’t matter where. Any of you VSB and VSS can help me out?

    And here’s the link to his mixtape; “Mona Lisa” is my favorite track on it: http://www.datpiff.com/TARZLLA-Addict-mixtape.793663.html

    • Laurielwright3

      Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !rs96f:
      On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
      ??;?? http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash346DigitalUniversityGetPay$97Hour ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::::!rs96f:….,……..

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