This is gonna be a super quick, but important rant. One of the quotes that I live by is by Steve Prefontaine. If you don’t know who he is, look him up on Wikipedia then watch Without Limits on Netflix or something. When the first Nike shoe is based on your foot and your life is turned into a movie titled Without Limits, you’re pretty much the perfect idol for me. OK, so he said, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
What I think he meant is that once you find your true calling, your true passion and purpose – for Pre it was running - then you have you do everything to do your best. Every time, all the time. The guy was famous for refusing to run below race pace in practices! Not the game, not the actual race, but practice! Allen Iverson left the NBA just a few years ago, but he already has less impact on modern day sports than Pre because he lacked this mentality. Anyway, back to my point.
I am a HUGE music fan. Got it from my older brothers, dad (read my Father’s Day post for more on him), and good friends over the years, I guess. Regardless, the best way for me to demonstrate my music fandomness is to tell you that I go to Waterloo Records – one of the best locally-owned record shops in America – every Tuesday when I’m home in Austin to buy at least one new CD. Yeah, I still buy actual CDs. Don’t get me wrong, I love iTunes and Spotify. I’ve probably spent a good $5,000 on iTunes since college on music alone. My iPhone is Bluetooth-enabled in my car so I can start playing my iTunes playlists the second I put the key in. Still, I buy a ton of CDs. Something like 250 in the last two years. Also, I recently counted and it turns out I’ve seen over 400 different performances/shows/concerts since I moved back to Austin in January 2009. That’s something like two shows every week.
When I find a new band or artist I love, I go hard for them. Whether it’s bands like Letting Up or 10YR in Austin or groups like Electric Wire Hustle and rapper David Dallas in New Zealand, I will rep hard for them. But I can’t stand when an artist feels entitled to give anything less than their best.
Like Dr. Dre and Detox. Like Justin Timberlake. Like Andre 3000. Hell, at least D’Angelo has cleaned up his act (pun intended) and appears to be working on a new album now. One of the greatest ever, Sade, went on a full-scale tour last year, which I got to see in Miami. Bless her heart.
Dre, Justin and 3000 are absolutely killing me right now. Artists who make excuses for not acknowledging and sharing their greatest gifts kill me! Dre is using his headphones. Justin is using his acting. 3000 is using his fashion collection…and Gillette commercials. Excuses, excuses, excuses.
All three of you are sacrificing your gifts.
Have you already done enough to make someone like me happy? Sure.
Dr. Dre gave us The Chronic album and Snoop and Eminem and 50 Cent.
Justin Timberlake gave us Cry Me a River and SexyBack and his “D*ck in a Box” on SNL.
Andre 3000 gave us some of the best verses ever heard in hip-hop and paved the way for rappers like Kanye West and Lil’ Wayne to express themselves through fashion.
I get it. But you’re not dead, so you’re not done. You shouldn’t be done. If you’re just taking a break, like one of those Sade seven-year breaks, then that’s cool. Just say it! Don’t keep us hanging around…everytime Dr. Dre says, “watch out for Detox!” I want to throw a tomato at him!
Jam Master Jay
They all died for different reasons and under different circumstances. Their reputations were all different in their final years. But, upon their deaths, the same reaction occurred: universal acclaim and gratitude for the fact that they gave something special while they were here on Earth.
I’m not saying these three musicians – Dr. Dre, Justin Timberlake, and Andre 3000 – haven’t given us their gifts significantly already. I’m not saying we wouldn’t celebrate their lives and musical contributions if they died prematurely or suddenly.
I’m just saying that I keep asking myself…do Dr. Dre, Justin Timberlake, and Andre 3000 take life and their gifts for granted – not to mention their fans – so much that they aren’t busy doing their best to share them with the world?
Are they intentionally letting the years go by, drawing closer to their deaths, without sharing their musical talents because they think they’ve done enough?
If they do, I beg them to watch Without Limits. I beg them to take heed to Pre’s words.
I beg them to take advantage of, and not sacrifice, their gift. Sorry, making headphones, acting and fashion design, are talents you may have, but the world already knows what your best gift is. Making music!
That’s the gift we’ll all be prepared to celebrate when you leave this Earth, too. Until then, share it with us before you end up in music history Heaven with the rest of the people on that list above; possibly dead before your final act could be performed as was the case with Michael Jackson, with millions of fans wondering what else you had left in the tank as was the case with Tupac and Biggie, with so much talent left to show as was the case with Aaliyah and Jay Dilla.
I can tell you this; no one ever wondered if Steve Prefontaine had anything left in the tank nor did anyone wonder what other talents he had to share...every distance runner, every Nike-sponsored athlete and every U.S. Olympian knows exactly what Pre had.
He gave it his all, every time, all the time. It's disappointing to look at some of my favorite musicians and wonder if that's something they can say for themselves, despite their God-given and awe-inspiring talents.