Knowledge Learned Under Birmingham. Kel. Ricks, a rapper and part of the hip-hop trio K.L.U.B. Monsta, embodies this acronym and the city of Birmingham. He never forgets the civil rights history of the city and stays conscious of the struggle. "I walk down the same streets our leaders have walked, pass churches that have been bombed," he says. "We mold our music around the history of the city." In this letter, written by Kel. Ricks, he dives into the balance of creating art in Birmingham and the power of creative momentum.
Balancing music and everyday life can be difficult.
Work can become a distraction, especially creatively.
When I’m at work, my central focus is the task at hand. The 9 to 5 can remove you from the creative mindset and it can be difficult to re-enter at will.
Monotonous job duties can drain creative sparks.
As an artist, you want to create at all times and work makes that difficult. My job pays for studio time so the two exist hand in hand.
An independent artist, I am the sole investor in myself and the music. Every artist would love to wake up and only make music, but most cannot. The time limitations on music drive my creative process.
I can’t create more time, but I go as hard as I can within these constraints.
Making music after a long day at work can be taxing. Energy levels are down and concepts can be cloudy.
Mentally, I feel stressed.
Music is my calling, but I want it to be my job.
With limited time, every opportunity is pivotal. Long days and late nights are the norm. These late nights can be peaceful.
During this time, I put together ideas more easily.
I work best in quiet.
The vibe, the setting breathes concepts to life.
The studio is therapy for me and creates a comfort zone. There’s just something about making music at night that clicks for me. I feel at peace, ready as soon as I step into the booth. It’s a feeling that won’t fade.
Mornings, I’m more focused on work, but I’d rather be somewhere else working on my craft. As an artist, ideas arrive spur of the moment. Not being able to create immediately can cause problems.
Making music as your main source of income allows easier access to the creative process. A great concept can get lost in translation because you’re stuck at work. Creative momentum loses steam if you cannot let ideas flow in the moment. You can easily forget a cadence or a simple line.
Forgetting a cadence is stressful. Certain songs only work with a specific cadence. A verse can be scrapped because one word does not fall into place.
In that respect, making music is like solving a puzzle.
Every piece plays an important role, and you need every piece to show listeners the whole picture.