STEP Reflection: Dabbling in the Hip-hop industry

My STEP project was in the artistic and creative endeavors category. My project consisted of making music and exploring the music creation process. I learned about producing and engineering sounds and rhythms while being exposed to the music business. Through STEP I was able to find a creative way to express myself in a fashion I may have not been able to before. I can say the overall experience has been transformative.

The project allowed for me to gain introspects about the type of person I want to be, while exploring something of which I had become interested. The process was transformative because it compelled me to reflect on my values, which showed in the music I created. The constant reflection of self and creation of music that expresses emotions causes one to learn a lot about themselves. I could immediately tell when something bothered me or I felt comfortable saying something I wrote. There were a few times I compromised my values because the music sounded good. It is a struggle trying to find your sound because that sound is a direct reflection of yourself and your beliefs by painting a picture to your audience. Being true to yourself during the whole process can be one of the hardest things to do because you have to be completely open to how you feel about certain things.  Music has become a way for me to express myself in a way and stands as something I would continue doing in order to find myself. 

Through music exploration, I also learned more about life and surrounding yourself with the right people. When I first started my journey, I recorded at my cousin’s studio. When I was there, I felt like I never got the instruction or guidance I needed for someone who just started off. I was unproductive and barely got any work done. The executive producer I was with didn’t care about my music at all and it was blatantly obvious. So I switched the people I associated myself with and found a couple of people that I work really well with. My productivity increased drastically and it showed through my song writing and composition ability. So overall, I learned how much environment affects how you operate and that if an environment is toxic you must break away from it. This translates into the professional world as well. The music business is a business itself and you must only associate with things and people that are supplemental to your endeavors.

The business aspect of the project was probably the most challenging because finding good company is a difficult thing to do. Keeping contacts and properly allocating resources can also be difficult. A large amount of my STEP project went towards the production of my music. Since I myself do not know how to produce, I had to rely on the service of others to produce beats for me. The producers I was in contact with were established producers, meaning that I had to pay higher price for their beats. The issue with this is, they have many more customers than just myself, and buying a beat can cost well over $1000 if you want all of its legal rights. In addition, the quality of the music was not as good as it could have been because it was not made for me nor could the beats be edited because I did not pay for the files. Going through such a dilemma encouraged me to learn to produce myself and work with local artists for about a tenth of the price.

I was paying more for the name rather than finding quality locals to work with. Had I changed my budget by those means earlier, I could have made better music in the beginning. I learned a lesson about excess spending and efficiently using your resources for the highest quality outcome. These skills translate to my field of engineering.

I am appreciative of the self-reflection and transformation I have undergone as a result of the step project. I learned how to budget, network in a new, unfamiliar environment and met people that I will continue to build relationships with. I do have some regrets about the way I conducted things but I am happy with the overall experience I gained. I would definitely recommend the program to upcoming sophomores as a means to explore something that you’ve always wanted to do or invest in your future. I will take this experience with me moving forward and will never forget it.