Big Fish, Small Pond
The thing about the Toronto market is, it’s small, very small; the hip-hop industry is, in all honesty, broken down into a few media outlets, bloggers, promoters, event coordinators, tastemakers and an extreme oversaturation of artists, making the task of achieving any type of actual notoriety a difficult one. The infrastructure is just not there yet. Years of putting in work, years of achieving clout, that when we do earn a small dose of local fame, we get caught up in it, because, let’s face it, Toronto has a very low ceiling (don’t let the tower fool you) and there’s only so many levels of Toronto hip-hop success.
So when an artist gets a little buzz, a blogger writes a few reviews or a tastemaker gets a social media following, it goes straight to our head and we become diagnosed with the mental illness that I would like to call the Toronto Ego. Sure, it feels good to get the attention because that’s what 95 per cent of the people in this community are doing it for anyway. We get comfortable. Guest-lists, free drinks, Twitter dick-riding, taking photos with strangers that follow your movement. It becomes enough for us. But soon, we forget why we started, we forget the end goals, and we get caught up.
If you believe in your talents, you should never settle for being a big fish in a small pond, ever.
I’ve only been in the Toronto rap scene for three years and I’ve seen the cycle happen over and over. An artist puts out a mixtape, gets some blog love, opens for a few big name acts when they come to town and earns him or her self an actual following from grinding it out over a few years. But the moment the artist gets some love, he or she stops working and cares more about smoking backstage than working on the craft of performance, more about taking Instagram photos in the studio than recording any songs in it and more about flexing for groupies than networking with industry folk who can actually progress careers. And there the artist remains; trapped inside of the Toronto rap bubble until a new hardworking artist/crew comes up and takes his/her place. The cycle continues.
Don’t get distracted by the fugazi, because the second you slow down, there will be three people behind you ready to take your place. That goes for everyone. A little local love should never be enough. If you believe in your talents, you should never settle for being a big fish in a small pond, ever.
The whole world is out there, and to be honest, the rest of the world doesn’t give a shit about our Toronto music scene (besides of course Bieber and anyone affiliated with that owl movement). So make them care. Show them how hard you are willing to work. Break the ceiling. Break barriers and take it as far as you want to go.
It’s hard to have a Toronto Ego in a new place. But it’s better to be a small fish in a big pond than to be stuck in the same puddle forever.
With that being said, I’m guilty of the same thing. I like being recognized at shows as “the girl that’s everywhere”, being told that my latest Samantics article is spot on from someone I’ve never met before and building relationships and earning respect from some of the most talented, hardest working people in the city. But am I going to let that stop me from growing? As much as I love y’all, do I want to be covering your local showcases for the rest of my life? #NeverThat
As of Wednesday, I will be hopping on a one-way flight to Europe for a couple of months to see what it has for me out there. Take in the hip-hop scene, cover some shows, finish writing my book and visit my soccer star during World Cup season. At first, I was nervous. Scared that I wasn’t going to like it. I’m not special over there. It’s hard to have a Toronto Ego in a new place. But it’s better to be a small fish in a big pond than to be stuck in the same puddle forever. Am I scared to start a new journey? Sure. Not to be recognized at the Europe music festivals I will be covering when I’m so used to seeing so many familiar faces? Of course. (Am I going to miss y’all? Damn straightttt.) But at the end of the day, you can’t let the fear of being uncomfortable stand in the way of being everything you want to be.
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield
Disclaimer: Samantics will be gwanin’ each week while I’m out still. It’ll just be an overseas ting fam.
(Sorry, had to get the Toronto slang out of my system before the flight.)