Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Where it All Begins: An Editorial By Drew Drialo

Photo By: Camera Jesus 

Maybe few will care, but for those who do; here's a story I want to share... One of the most defining moments in my life was discovering a cassette tape from Detroit rapper Esham in the 4th grade. That day changed everything. Almost immediately I started to immerse myself in the Detroit hip hop scene; branching off collaborations on that tape and gradually expanding to other genres of music coming from the city.

At 14, I got involved with a Michigan based website promoting local musicians. I had a vision, but my path was not clear. My mission statement was something about community and unity. At this point, I was receiving demos, posters, etc. from local artists in the mail pretty regularly. Thinking back, a lot of it wasn't good or borderline terrible, but in that moment --- everything coming in was the best shit I ever heard. I was young and excited, having found something I enjoyed enough to think about every night until I would fall asleep.
Photo By: Camera Jesus 

The first real "move" I ever shot (and I don't know if anybody else even realized I did) was hopping on the phone with the owner of a popular Detroit rap website (that promoted a crab in the bucket mentality) --- and I convinced him to sell the domain on eBay. He did. Local underground legend Uncle P ended up purchasing it and merged it with the website I was already involved with. P acted as a mentor early on and made me feel like I could actually do something worthwhile in the 'music industry'. I am thankful for his knowledge and guidance early on in support of my passion. 

During this time, I was in high school and failing hard --- for whatever reasons. I repeated 9th grade three times before dropping out. It was around then that depression first started to sink in --- I was thinking I would never be able to achieve anything in life because: I would lack an education and my social skills were (/are) not that sharp compared to many. Everything seemed to be crumbling around me. I still pushed forward with all the music stuff, contributing to local concerts/parties, promotions, etc. I was active in the Detroit community and was a part of some things I am still happy to have experienced from the beginning stages... But at home, I was lost.

Skipping forward, I stepped away from the music stuff completely for almost a year... ended up in a relationship I thought would help make me feel complete --- before that ship sank, and I hit rock bottom. And I gave up on life completely. December 4, 2011 I overdosed on 28 Xanax --- having never taken a pill in my life prior because I watched what they did to people I loved. I was hopeless. I didn't think I could ever live up to being the person I imagined myself being, I couldn't match my own expectations of self. Immediately after swallowing the pills, I ran fast as I can to the gas station... though they kept the doors locked at night because of previous robberies. I wasn't able to get inside to make a call so I ran down 8 Mile; each sense slipping away from me before I made it back to my old home that had just been foreclosed. I blacked out in my car and woke up in a hospital. 

I still believe it's a complete miracle I'm here to share this story and because of that, I am just grateful for every small thing that has happened since. I took time to myself to recover and shifted focus inward and discovered faith. The greatest discovery I've ever made.

Shortly after all this (and there's magic in all the details not mentioned), I started interning for Mikey Eckstein and his company Embarco. Mikey is somebody I had looked up to from afar for many years prior, knowing his connection to Big Proof who I also admired. This opportunity to work with him meant the world to me so I devoted every thing I had to offer which wasn't much, but an insane work ethic. I was living out of my car, sleeping in the Greektown parking every night so I could be at the office each morning. Eventually I got comfortable enough to just sleep at the office. I don't believe anybody will ever understand how hard I actually hustled... or still do. Mostly out of desperation, maybe it was for survival --- but it became an addiction and my brain was rewired around the grind and I never stopped. Mikey changed my life and made me feel like I was actually making it in the 'music industry' --- and though I know I'm still way off, I never looked back after this point. 

Moving forward; my internship ended and for the last year 1/2, I've been blessed to work with Garret Koehler, Nicole Churchill, Seth Anderson and many others out of Assemble Sound. Assemble directly aligns with my original vision for the Detroit music scene back when I was first getting started. I'm the dumbest person in the space and I love it because I'm adapting to be a better "me" everyday. "The Church" is an actual game changer for the Detroit music community and I am excited for things to grow and spread further. A lot of magic is happening and will continue to happen out of this space and it's an honor to be in the mix of it all. It blows my mind how every loose end in life ties together --- with patience, in time. 

Since stepping out on my own, technically being self-employed: I've made at least minimum wage salary each month from the first month out and in the last 4 months, I've doubled my monthly income. To me, this means a lot. Off my own hustle. And I've only worked with things I wholeheartedly believe in, refusing to take money from something I don't feel good about standing behind. Yes, I've sacrificed comfort, but I know there's even greater things to come and I can chill later. My reason for sharing this is because in retrospect, when I was depressed... I was convinced I could never accomplish anything in my life. I would be working a minimum wage job I hated because I was not qualified for anything else with my level of education. Or lack of skills in general. I was made to believe I am not worthwhile. But today, I feel like a million and it all comes down to work ethic and intention --- so I'm saying: Everybody starts at the bottom. Don't let that truth hold you back from ever attempting to follow your gut. Go after what you want and don't let those around you or even the voice in your own head tell you that you aren't capable. I don't care to hear about lack of education, opportunity, etc. because we create the world around us. Don't think about it too much, just go out and get it if you want it. There's a better way than what we often know and we figure it out by throwing ourselves in the fire. If you have a vision, but no money, maybe you're from a broken home, a broken soul... know that things change by simply switching your perspective --- and it's on you to embrace the wrongs and make it better. Find something that excites you and let it consume you, things always work themselves out and it starts with you.

Where it all begins is within.

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