Work In Progress
A Work In Progress is something that is being improved. It's not a finished product but it is in the process of becoming better, refining.
We as people are all a Work In Progress. We will never be perfect. We will never arrive. There is more work to do.
This project is the exploration of that work.
I'm a work in progress
Going through this thing called life, it's a process
Who I am is not who I was
And who I am is not who I will become
All that matters is what happens after it's all said and done
That God would wrap His ever-loving arms around me and call me His son
Smoking mirrors hide behind the title of success
Everyone is concerned with who gets what; we all want more not less
Chasing after this, chasing after that, what's next?
I don't know for sure
I'm just a work in progress
For 5 years I’ve been the guy that constantly says “I’m working on an album.” Oh. Ok. Cool, guy. We all know who I’m talking about right? “Hey I make music. Yeah I rap. Check out my mixtape. Album is on the waaaaaay!” …crickets…
Now I’m no stranger to putting out music online. I’ve been doing that for about 7 years. I got custom artwork, copied my own CDs (complete with cases, labels and covers), and put on some shows. I even had a song featured on my local radio station! My weapon of choice was SoundCloud and there are about 75 tracks you can still go listen to right now. Plus the new album that is coming! No seriously. It is. I promise. This month.
But this project? This was going to be different. This was a legit album. With a full blown concept. A story to tell. All original lyrics. All original beats. All original songs. Not remixes of popular songs. Not free beats I downloaded from who knows where. A real album. The iTunes and Spotify kind. The plastic wrapped, hold in your hand, rip it open as fast as you can after a concert kind of album.
I’m sure it got to the point where it was just super annoying and people thought I was always crying wolf. I even annoyed myself. Part of it was excuses. Some legitimate like my producer moving away, having a full time job with a growing part-time DJ business, and my life completely changing by becoming a husband and then a father. Some of my own doing like how it took a while to write to every beat and even longer to record and e-mail to my producer.
But a lot of it was just plain laziness and fear. Laziness on the count that I spent many nights doing nothing to accomplish this goal. For. Years. Fear because those voices in your head win a lot more of the time than I care to admit. Everyone has their own voices. Mine sound something like this: “What are you doing? You’re embarrassing yourself. You’re too old for this. No one cares about a white rapper from Iowa. It’s a waste of time and money.” You know, fun things like that. And as much as I hate to admit it, those voices controlled the majority of this project for a long time. You know what’s worse? Not all of those voices were solely in my head either. Lots of people in my life think and feel that same way. So that doubles the fear!
This project, aptly titled “Work In Progress” became a kind of pie in the sky. I’d set it on the shelf, let it get dusty, and get it down to work on every once in a while. Slowly but surely, I’d make some progress (pun intended). Then I’d hit another road block. I couldn’t get this lyric right or my producer wouldn’t get back to me for a month or a coworker would crack a joke about it. Back on the shelf it went. I’d even started to feel like maybe it really was time to give it up.
Everyone has dreams that they just need to let go of, right? Isn’t that part of becoming an adult? Dreams are for kids and it was time to focus on my family and forget mine. This was a constant back and forth of dreaming, chasing, becoming frustrated or scared, and letting myself down. Couple that with the fact that I’m a Christian and firmly believe God puts us on Earth with unique desires and passions He wants us to use for His glory and to bring others to Him. So I also had this constant friction of “is this something God wants me to do? Or am I just chasing fame, attention, or whatever for myself?”
I’ve always believed in the project and the message behind it. I felt like this idea definitely came from someone other than myself. Like I said in the previous paragraph, the title “Work In Progress” kind of became this cute phrase that I could use when I had enough courage to actually verbalize this dream. “The album is coming. It’s a ‘Work In Progress’ lol.” But I honestly believe in the concept.
We, as human beings, are ALWAYS a Work In Progress. We never arrive. We never get to perfection (on Earth, anyway). There is always some way we can improve our lives. I don’t even mean that in solely a professional, hobby, or skill related way. Personally there is always more to learn. More ways to grow. We can always be better friends, parents, husbands, wives, etc. If you feel like you have arrived in life, you’re close to a downfall. I’ve always had this heartbeat behind the album and the songs on it. For me, they’re an exploration of that idea.
Before 2017, the last big push I had to finish this project was a few months before my son was born in 2015. I thought, man, this will be great. I can kind of use his brith as a deadline and really work to get this thing done because once he’s here, it’s game over. My dream life will be through so I have to do it now! But just like before: excuses, fear, laziness, complacency. Wash, rinse, repeat. I even had an idea to write a song just FOR him before he was born and I couldn’t even get that done! Woof.
However after my son was born the strangest thing happened. My dream didn’t end. In fact it kind of did the opposite. It only solidified and became more concrete in my brain. Not even just in my brain but in my heart and soul as well. Over the next year and a half it seemed like everywhere I turned, this feeling to finish what I started only intensified. In conversations, scenes in movies, different podcasts and books, everywhere.
There was one moment this last summer that really stood as a defining moment in this journey. It was the last week in June and I was in Chicago for a work conference put on by the Luis Palau Association in conjunction another conference called Amplify. For those who don’t know, Luis Palau is basically the Billy Graham of South America and is world renowned evangelist. The association is a collection of different ministries that come together to encourage each other, learn, and share resources.
At one point during this conference an evangelist took the stage to lead everyone in a time of prayer for different topics. One of which was something to the effect of praying for God to reveal His will for this season of life. I’ll never forget what happened. I felt this wave of peace that was unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Along with that the word “finish” formed in my mind in such a way that I could almost see it. I had this overwhelming sense that I was supposed to complete this album and get it out for the world. What happens after that? I don’t really know. I just know that for whatever reason, I’m supposed to finish. So that’s what I did.
For the rest of the year the seed of this project that was planted so many years ago started to really grow. But it still wasn’t without it’s share of difficulties. I knew I wanted to finish this project. I just didn’t know how. I had the idea. I had the music. I had the lyrics. But I no longer had my producer, who had moved and now had a life of their own with bigger responsibilities and interests. And I didn’t have the skill to finish it myself at the level I would like. However I still toyed with the idea of taking the time to learn and do it on my own. It was a conversation I had with my wife that actually pointed me in the next direction.
We were sitting in our kitchen and I was telling her about my frustrations and my lack of direction with the whole thing. She said to me two things that I’m not sure I’ll ever forget. The first being, “If you feel so strongly about this, just do it.” The second was, “If you put in amateur effort, expect amateur results.” It was then and there that I decided to have everything from that point forward professionally done. That meant more time. More effort. More money. More work. It was all worth it.
I worked with a studio in Sioux Falls that a friend of mine had used. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life! For three sessions spread from September to November and a total of about 9 hours I re-recorded 80% of the album in a legitimate studio. I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out! And now it’s roughly 10 days from being available for the entire world to hear. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the story behind Work In Progress. And I hope you enjoy the actual project even more. This is the last photo and now you can see the official album art in all it’s awesomeness. I think it looks great! Thanks for reading. I’ll keep you posted as soon as W.I.P. is available.