To become good at anything you do will take hard work. Whenever you see someone that’s successful you are seeing that person right now, almost at the end of the journey. You never see the struggle or the start of the journey. Sometimes you might catch a successful person on his rise to becoming great, they’re not there yet but you can tell they are putting in that work that keeps taking them to the next level. If you look closely at these type of people you can tell they all have certain traits in common. First they believed in themselves unquestionably. Successful people fully believe in their skill, gift or vision. While everyone else is hating on them successful people never stop believing in themselves. In fact some feed off the negative energy they receive from others. Next they put in that work. They are never satisfied with their current success instead they think about the next logical step, put their heads down and get back to work. They may enjoy the fruits of their labor but their minds are focused like a laser on what’s next. They surround themselves with a team of peers, mentors or collaborators that share the same work ethics and hunger for success. Below are some people that come to mind that I feel that through hard work have attained success and some who may be shooting for greatness.
Usually it’s the other way around. Rappers become actors or get bit parts in movies. But one day Community actor Donald Glover put his name in a Wu Tang Clan rap name generator on a website and Childish Gambino was born. Listening to his early work is excruciatingly humorous and painful. His high pitch, joke/punchline rap backed by samples of the latest hipster songs seemed like a joke. Most of his songs consisted of rapping about how big his dick was, fucking girls/groupies, and being black hipster. Music critics and hardcore rap blogs wrote him off.
Seemingly undeterred Gambino continued to work harder on all facets of his game. Writing, singing, working with his team on beats, putting out short films, marketing and retooling his sound all together. Something snapped between his first official album Camp and the following mixtape Royalty. He transformed from a punchline rapper to a battle MC with multi angle tools to his game. Now a better singer and lyricist. In 2013 he dropped Because the internet and the hip hop community began to notice that he was doing it his way and pushing rap in a different direction. With follow up mix tapes, videos and collaborations with other up and coming artist Gambino has managed to become one of the most watched artist in hip hop to see what he’s going to put out next. All of this while continuing to act, write and produce in TV shows and in Movies. Childish Gambino is an excellent example of not being satisfied with immediate success but to keep pushing yourself for greater heights.
Back in the early to mid 2000’s there were these stupid hipster photo albums online like The Cobrasnake, Last Night’s Party Misshapes etc etc where you’d see coked out hipster chicks doing all kinds of crazy shit. Everything from flashing their tiggs, to having champagne poured on them, to making out with each other in a bathroom to sucking a dick. It was a weird crazy time but in the middle of it all was Terry Richards. Some creepy old guy with the same unwashed grimy flannel shirt was taking these pictures and somehow getting in there with these chicks. The photos didn’t look like it took any skill whatsoever but these girls were getting naked with him, sucking him off, letting him jizz on their faces, crazy shit.
As you can see I do not think that Terry Richards is some avant garde photography genius. He was just a creeper that hung around the right loser hipster crowed and got drunk/ cokeheads to do shit. But fast forward to today and he shoots for lucrative brands like Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, YSL to name a few. He’s also shot for Rolling Stone, GQ, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper Bazaar and Playboy. He continues to shoot in a hypo-sexual style and his work instantly recognizable because it’s usually the same.
Why I put him on this list is because he worked hard to create the hype around him as some edgy, sexual artist on almost an underground nightclub scene. Soon the buzz grew and bigger brands, labels and fashion magazines that wanted to associate with that buzz/ cool came calling to work with him. Once he got his foot in the door he did well enough work to give the client what they asked for. But on top of that he seemed to make friends with big name editors in the business to continue working in the fashion industry. Once there he hustled his ass off working and making connections.
Another reason he’s on this list is look at Bill Cosby. How many women have come forward with sexual assault claims against him? His career for the most part is over. Well in this day and age those same coked up hipsters and models that were trying to get a break in the early days are coming forward out of the wood work to accuse Terry of somehow taking advantage of them and sexually assaulting them in the same fashion. Unlike Bill Cosby though Terry Richardson continues to get work and higher end fashion campaigns. Why? Because once he got in he worked hard and delivered for the client. He made relationships and collaborations with those that matter and now he’s at the point where he’s talent matters more than flimsy accusations. Lesson learned, you don’t have to be the best to be great but if you prove your worth, work hard, and make connections that matter in your industry, get their respect then the haters can’t touch you.
Let’s be honest Will Smith is a slightly good actor. But he shouldn’t be as successful as he is. In the late 80’s he was rapper that didn’t use curse words. In the early 90’s he was on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for five years. In most cases that should have been it as far as his acting career went. But he starred in Independence Day which went big. He also followed that up with two successful Michael Bay films (Bad Boys 1 and 2) and finally work in Men in Black movies as well.
The thing about Smith is he has one of the hardest work ethics in Hollywood. He doesn’t take success for granted. There’s an interesting statement he made about his work ethic where he said if you put him on a treadmill and race against him on another treadmill he’ll either fall down dead from exhaustion or you’ll quit first but he won’t give up. This attitude has worked for him in the field along with the ability to manage and cultivate his image to become a bankable movie star. For a while there he had like five or six years where his movies opened number one in July aka the summer blockbuster month.
His salary during those years was also among one of the highest for a movie star between 15 to 20 million if I remember correctly. What anyone can learn about success from Will Smith is that every opportunity that’s given to you work hard. Anyone could have taken that role on Will Smith and slept walked through it instead of learning the ins and outs of being an actor. Learning from older actors and business people around him and also focusing on work and staying out of trouble.
To me Kanye represents success based solely on pure will and self-aggrandizement. No matter what you and I think or believe Yeezy will always believe in himself and that’s what makes him one of the most watched rappers/artist in the world today. More importantly another reason he’s on this list is because of his growth. He could have easily played the background as a producer. The fact the he was partially responsible for the beats behind one of Jay Z’s greatest albums The Blueprint should be enough. One could see how Jay easily dismissed him when he tried to say he could rap as well like, “Yeah whatever kid, make me another beat”. Fast forward to ten years and he’s co- headlining with Kanye on the Watch the Throne Tour.
With his background as a producer he decided to experiment and finally start pushing hip hop in a new direction with 808’s & Heartbreaks to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and through to Yeezus. With each album he got better at self-promoting and building anticipation with different marketing stunts. Besides collaborating with Jay Z a mentor he was able to build his own label up with the addition of Pusha T, Big Sean along with collaborating with major artists around the world to further push his global reach and connectivity.
Besides music or because of it and his strong vision of what he believes art is has opened doors into other industries. Now Kanye is considered by some as a fashion tastemaker. Twice collaborating with French label APC, a new clothing line with Addidas along with releasing sneakers that retail for $350 with Adidas and Nike. Lastly for him he married the girl of his dreams and has somehow manage to raise her value in the fashion/entertainment field and is now positioning themselves as power couple.
Besides talent and with major arrogance Kanye has turned himself from a producer to a thought leader in Hip Hop. The world continues to see what he’ll do next and it’s all because more than anyone else he believes in himself.