The Soul of a Miserable Genius
“Art should make us laugh and smile, and sometimes it should make us angry so we can talk about things.”
The “Miserable Genius.” Some of you know him and his work as a rapper. Whether you know him or not and whether you do or do not like rap music won’t matter. After reading about him, I think you will admire him as much as I do. When I heard he had joined the COVID- 19 Contact Tracing Initiative, I discreetly asked him for an interview. He readily said yes, and I got excited. He went on to talk about anything and everything one might not expect a rapper of twenty-four to discuss or even care about. I asked the general questions, “where do you see your career going,” “what future projects do you have,” “where do you get your inspiration?” He didn’t have a whole lot to say on those topics. He is an artist who would prefer not to draw too much attention to himself. “Has the pandemic affected your work?” That question sparked his interest. He discussed people, art, and how they interact with each other.
“COVID is crazy. It did a lot of bad things, but it also brought people together. Even two towns over things are different, but everyone knows about COVID.” Isn’t that the truth! How sad that the one thing everyone can agree on is we are in a crisis."
He believes all the arts, not just music, can enrich our lives and ease the burden of this crisis. “Now, more than ever, art is important,” he said sincerely. “It teaches people, brings people together. There are so many things that divide us. Whether it’s race, gender, or orientation, all these things separate us, put us into invisible boxes. But art can liberate people.”
He took a reflective moment and then exclaimed the last thing I expected but will never forget. “Pikachu is an electric rat from Japan, and he changed my life. But that’s art. There’s no reason why kids in America should ever know what a Japanese rat that electrocutes things looks like, but they do, and they fell in love with it! Sponge Bob is a square, yellow sponge from the sea, and the whole world loves him! That’s amazing!” he cheered. I could practically see him through the phone, pumping his fist in the air. That was one of the best evaluations I had heard in my entire life.
“Ask me another question, or I’ll just keep rambling.” Not a chance! His rambling, as he put it, wasn’t that at all. I heard the soul of someone who cares about the world and feels its pain. “My whole generation is suffering. We have a challenger every day. But I feel the worst for the kids in domestic violence situations. School used to be a way out for kids, and now so many are stuck at home.”
He has a straightforward request that we all “level up.” “Take care of your family, your health, take care of the earth.” What does it mean to level up? We are all in this together; now is the time to be showing compassion. Every day is a new day to do better, be better than you were the day before. Take responsibility for yourself and your actions. Level up and be kinder to yourself and others.
“Have you seen the movie ‘Soul’?” he asked. He forgot who was being interviewed for a moment. I smiled, told him I had and that I liked it. No need to tell him that I had gotten up early on Christmas Day to watch it with my nephew and that we watched it half a dozen times since then. “There is a scene with the lost souls; they said when a joy becomes an obsession, a soul has the opportunity to become lost. That resonated with me a lot. I feel like when you’re chasing and making music all the time just for the sake of getting out of your situation, obsessing like it’s the only way to eat and survive, then it stresses you out. It’s not fun anymore. It becomes work, you know? COVID has allowed me to slow down and realize that music is not the most important thing in the world, but at the same time, it’s the most important thing in the world.”
He will be releasing new music before the end of the year. “I’m writing things out and making sure the music sounds good, and the art sounds good. More than ever before, I want the music and the art to be entertaining,” he said with enthusiasm. “I’ve been writing a lot. I’m a perfectionist. I’m making music with someone in Switzerland, recording a song for someone in London.”
What is forefront in his mind? “Right now, I am worried about being a better person, being a better man than I was the day before. If this last year didn’t make you see how precious life is, I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know if you’ll ever learn.”
When the interview was over, I asked him if he had any final thoughts. He said, “Everyone, at least do a puzzle, play a game. Get your creative energy out. Think about what you wanted to do and be when you were a kid. Get in touch with what and who you are supposed to be. Laughter is free medicine. Laugh a lot!”
That is good advice for us all.