Rise Above – A Journey to Creative Freedom
Published on 07/24/2023
Candy Hype never had writers’ block before. Didn’t really have it now but inspiration faded as she jotted rehashed lyrics from her last hit, seems so long ago. Her lips snarled a bit as she abruptly crumpled and tossed that sheet for the umpteenth time. Brows furrowed, then eyes widened again to match the blank sheet in front of her. Her fingers could only tap the desk, searching for words that weren’t there. Humming a new melody almost transformed into singing, but the words evaporated out of her mouth.
She ignored the crashing of her chair behind her as she jolted up, the klunking of cloggy sandals from her pacing back and forth felt like music at this point. Settling the room with a deep sigh, she righted her chair, sat back down, and picked up her pen.
Candy Hype never gets writers’ block she thought to herself as she forced the second verse onto the page. She wrapped up the final verses of this new song quickly. A hint of a smile faded as she wondered, is it good? Will my fans really like it?
The next night, at her weekly poetry jam session, she decided not to share her new single. When her turn came up, she slid down in her chair with her hands coupled between her knees. “I don’t have anything new tonight” she said, looking down. She had been attending this poetry jam session for more years than she could remember, almost everyone in the room were “old-timers” by now. Heads nodded sympathetically.
“Let yourself go, and just try stream of conciseness” advised one the most senior artists in the room.
“Don’t go it alone honey … Let’s collab, girl we got this!” sparked Monica, another of the old-timers, sitting next to her as she gave a hug.
Candy Hype warmed up a bit, sat up straight again. “Sounds like a plan” she said. But her heart was still racing, not enough for others to notice, but she could hardly feel anything else.
She went into her recording session the next morning telling herself that this was it. Monica agreed to join in, and Candy Hype told herself to just let it it all out today. Candy had multiple copies of her new song lyrics, she and Monica went through it side-by-side and created a sort of duet. Monica really did have some fresh lyrics too. But they were Monica’s. Monica surely meant well, but oftentimes Monica was all about Monica.
As they laid down this new track, Candy Hype feared that she came out staccato. But eyes closed, and head down she was able to smooth out her vocals. At the end of the session Candy Hype had to check herself in the mirror, she felt so light headed that she thought her face must be flushed.
“We did soooo gooooood today girl!” Monica said with a warm embrace.
The next day Candy Hype met an old friend, Vanessa Jones, for lunch. It was a bright sunny day, so the two decided to sit out on the veranda; even though outdoors was a bit noisy that day they both wanted to enjoy the fresh air and sunlight. Vanessa looked great! The last time they were together was at Candy Hype’s after party last summer. Although she would never say it to her face, Candy thought Vanessa looked a bit sallow that night. She wondered if it was the sunlight across Vanessa’s face that made such a difference now?
“Candy dear I tell ya’, I feel like a whole new woman these days“ Vanessa said.
“Really? How so?”
Candy Hype’s face tingled from a breeze cooling down the rays of sun. Vanessa went on with quite a long story; a journey. She had realized last summer that her close friends, her lifestyle and habits, were dragging her down. Her friends truly meant well, by encouraging bad behavior. But Vanessa learned that true friendship was not about being told what you want to hear. It was a tough lesson too, by aligning herself to her true spirit Vanessa alienated some of her oldest and dearest friends. Entranced by Vanessa’s transformation, Candy Hype no longer noticed the noisy traffic rumbling by. As Vanessa continued with her story, Candy’s mind was spinning. In that moment Candy Hype realized what she needed to do. Her inner voice rang loud, “Elevation requires separation”.
Vanessa turned her head around to look at the traffic behind her, “What do you see over there Candy?”
“No, nothing. Sorry, yeah I thought I saw something; please go on!”
“It’s been a tough journey, but I’m in such a better place these days.” said Vanessa.
“Wow, that’s truly amazing Vanessa. I’m so happy for you”
Chit-Chat continued over lunch, but Candy’s mind was ruminating over that last recording session, it all made sense now.
Candy Hype couldn’t stop writing furiously that afternoon. But it she wasn’t writing new lyrics at the moment, instead she started journaling for the the first time in her life. She enjoyed the cool breeze from her open window, inspired her mindfulness and she was acutely aware of her surroundings. Her smile glowed as she wrote on about her life changing lunch with her friend and her new epiphany. Satisfied with her new journal entry, her mind turned to next steps. She opened up her calendar, a brief moment of sadness as she realized how scattered her life had been. She made a plan, a schedule for the next week with time blocked out for writing, recording, along with yoga and meditation. A new desire for discipline had gripped her, and to her surprise she felt free for the first time in her life. Only yesterday she would have berated herself for being so unorganized. But she felt like a new Candy Hype today. She decided to quit her habit of self doubting negative self-talk.
The next morning was a bit more dreary than usual for this time of year. Grey skies and misty fog clouded Candy’s thoughts as well. Laying in bed, she spent over an hour mindlessly scrolling TikTok. Her mind darkened in self criticism, how could this be the “new” Candy Hype? But then a glimmer of self awareness warmed over her. She realized that it wasn’t always going to be easy, but it will always be possible to focus on what she wants to do. She accepted that she wouldn’t always be perfect to plan, and that’s OK. A breath of relief relaxed her as lyrical ideas began to flow freely through her mind. She sat at her desk, and wrote out the first truly new verse in months.
This week’s poetry jam rolled around sooner than Candy expected. But she just didn’t want to go, not sure herself why not? She reflected on her friends and her music. She felt that some of her older friends really were more hindrance than help. She resolved to skip this week poetry jam, and continue focus on her new music, feeling a next level of freedom and hope.
The rest of the week she experimented even more with new lyrical styles. While out for one of her morning walks she became short of breath. Dropping a new single in a totally new style was riskier than she initially anticipated. The cool morning breeze across her face opened up her lungs as she became aware of the morning dove cooing behind her. She realized that this was normal, and risk was a requirement.
Despite this new more disciplined schedule, Candy felt like she had more time than ever before. A banner ad for a new open mic in town popped up in her feed. ”Perfect!” she thought, a new venue for a new Candy Hype. Arriving at the open mic, she was surprised to get recognized by a few long time fans. She was first up, and excited to show off her new material. She performed her newest single with gusto and ease. But Candy Hype’s new music was not well received. She wasn’t booed, but the crowd wasn’t thrilled either.
The next few performers got the crowd pumping. Later that evening, as she mingled in the crowd and met some new artists, she got some feedback on her new single. ”It just doesn’t vibe” was one of the nicer comments. Candy Hype was surprised to find herself refreshed by authentic feedback. Though negative, it inspired her in a new direction, she couldn’t wait to get back home and bang out the next version. In the meantime, Candy’s enthusiasm throughout the evening was infectious. And she made a new friend, Wanda, who invited Candy to a songwriting workshop. Candy Hype brought her latest rewrite to the workshop. She was thrilled to learn some new skills. Candy was able to perfect her newest single with new skills and new friends.
Candy Hype never did return to old poetry jam. It happened naturally, she knew it wasn’t the right environment for her new direction. As she planned for the release of her new single, doubt crept back up in her mind. Instead of reaching out to her manager to plan the release, she hesitated. Even with all this progress, what if her new music still wasn’t good enough? Candy Hype recognized old thought processes and behaviors, but now she was aware of her hesitation and she realized it was natural to feel this way when releasing something so radically new. Awareness led to acceptance, and Candy told herself that it was OK to feel this way. She contacted her manager, and got the release plans going for her next drop.
Meanwhile, she added more affirmations to her nighttime routine. Candy Hype repeated positive statements, consciously focused on her music and her future. This rewired her thought patterns, previously self-limiting beliefs faded away as she continued to empower herself. Candy’s manager was thrilled with her new single. He was working hard to plan the release, and finalize various details like album art and Candy’s promotional interview schedule. But Candy couldn’t stop writing, her prolificacy exploded. Her next album was almost done!
And her new single, “Rise Above”, was scheduled to drop. In an interview promoting “Rise Above”, Candy Hype was asked where she got all the inspiration? How does she continue to come up with new song ideas?
“It’s not easy, but it’s not as hard as I thought either.”
Candy explained that for her it was about attitude, a way of life. She was surprised to hear herself opening up, become vulnerable even, talking about how she used to be ultra self critical. How her friends, although trying to help, often made things worse by reinforcing negative thought patterns. She told the story of her transformation, by separating herself from old ways of thinking, and even some of her closest friends, she elevated herself to the next level.
“Rise Above” dropped the following day, on all major platforms, and immediately went viral. Candy Hype couldn’t believe it. She got more twitter mentions and InstaGram likes in 24 hours than she had in the past 3 months! Of course Candy Hype also got her fair share of negative reviews, especially on Twitter where a few tweets were especially hurtful. And even for this “new” Candy Hype, it still stung a bit. She didn’t want to let it slide, she worked hard on her new single, but this random Twitter person has never even released one song in their lives. As she was in the middle of banging out a witty retort, she took a breath, suddenly aware of her emotions. It’s OK to feel upset, even hurt feelings; this is natural she told herself. But it won’t help anyone, least of all Candy Hype, to sink down into negative conversations. She put her phone down for a few minutes, and appreciated herself, the level of awareness she had achieved.
The next morning, Candy Hype awoke before her alarm went off. Infused with boundless energy, she began to write a few verses at her desk as the sun rose. After a while she decided to enjoy some morning tea, and she took some time to paint her nails in a new color. Colors seemed deeper to her today, maybe it was that she had simply been unaware in the past. She realized that her new friend, Wanda, always had intricate patterns on her nails. The back of her neck tingled, none of this could have happened without her new friends she thought.
At the next songwriting workshop, she was asked to present the lyrics for “Rise Above” and walk the class through her writing process as a case study. Her eyes beamed, and hair seemed to flow almost as if in a breeze while sharing her story with her new friends in class.
The next day, Candy Hype went back to her songwriting, and continued on writing new verses for her next album over the next few weeks. She was no longer surprised by her creative prowess, as it became normal for her now. She felt stuck a few times along the way, but her heightened awareness helped her to accept that this was a totally normal part of the songwriting process. When the next open mic rolled around, Candy couldn’t wait to jump on stage and perform her newest work. She cherished the opportunity to experiment with new styles, pushing the bounds of traditional HipHop. Her heart felt like it was pumping out extra sweat, but her voice powered through the crowd with a raw new sound. The crowd loved it! Everybody was dancing, bathed in sounds like never heard before. After her performance, Candy Hype melded into the crowd herself. The next rapper was a lyrical genius, pumping up the party. Candy danced with the crowd long into the night.
Candy Hype slept in a bit the next morning. Her mind was a bit foggy as she brewed her morning tea, was this “new” Candy Hype really real? Laughing softly to herself, “no I’m not dreaming” she thought. But it took hard work to get here. And she knew that she could never have done it on her own. More importantly, to elevate herself to this new level she needed to separate herself from old friends and old habits.
Candy Hype embarked on a virtual interview tour, guesting on several podcasts over the next few weeks.
“Love how ‘Rise Above’ is so fresh, and yet still 100% Candy Hype!!” adored one fan.
“Blown away that you didn’t take the bait” said another caller, talking about Candy’s blatant avoidance of any flame-wars on Twitter, “You inspired me to rise above it all and focus on my art!”
Candy was humbled by the number of fans dialing in with appreciation, she was surprised to find herself as an inspiration to so many. Candy Hype’s next album was further transformational in the music world. But it was Candy Hype herself who was truly elevated to the next level. And she never stopped taking her fans along for the ride.