Friday, December 29th, 2017

2017, what a year you’ve been. It seems like just yesterday we were starting the year, and now here we are winding down. It’s definitely been one for the history books, hasn’t it? From an unpredictable president to a royal wedding announcement to the biggest Super Bowl comeback in history, there were many things that defined the year. We witnessed KD get a ring, Episode 8 finally release, and an Avengers trailer that broke all sorts of records. A new iPhone released, Disney bought Fox, and there was a revolving door at the White House. And on a sadder note, we saw the tragedy in Las Vegas. It’s been an absolutely unreal year.

While I just spent that intro discussing this year’s defining moments, I’d also like to talk about the year that I had. Every year at around this time, I take a moment and reflect back. Whether the rap life or personal life, I’ve always thought it’s important to appreciate where you’ve come. And of course, it’s also good to look back at how much we’ve accomplished together. And from what I can remember, it’s been a lot.

So here it is. My 2017 year in review. In the words of Kanye, “like we always do at this time…”

Year of growth

If I sit back and think about 2017, I’d say it was a year of growth. Instead of always planning or coming up with ideas, I focused on DOING. I was more hands-on than ever, constantly learning. Yup, this year was all about learning. While I was putting out content (more than I can recall in recent years), I was also learning so many things along the way. Like what, Jaxxx?

Video editing – Well firstly, I got really down and dirty with video editing. While I’m no rookie to the editing game (I just did the video for “Broken Dreams“, c’mon), I was taking on projects on a not-so-often basis. This year, I spent mad time working on videos. I was messing with transitions, effects, and perhaps the most wow thing – green screen! I had never done green screen before but it’s something I always wanted to try out, so this year I finally dove in and tried it out. So whether it was reinforcing what I already knew or adding to my repertoire, all this video editing definitely helped me grow.

Mixing down – Additionally, and perhaps the most incredible thing for me, I was mixing down my own music this year. Now, I’ve mixed before…but very seldom and a long time ago too. If you’ve kept up with me or my Opinions Columns in the past, you’ve heard me talk at lengths about this. Whether it’s an unreliable, unresponsive, or just busy engineer, I’ve had my share of issues with mixing engineers. I’ve also had great experiences too, don’t get me wrong…but it can also get costly especially when you’re putting out as much content as I was. Not just that, but I had an aggressive schedule and I needed to make sure that I stayed on track. Because of those challenges, I decided to invest in some studio monitors and try my hand at it. During the beginning of the year, I was making mad mistakes while referencing old files and spending hours and hours and hours learning. I think for my pizza video, I had like 80 something revisions lol. But yeah, as the year went on I got better at it and now I’m halfway-decent at it (if I do say so myself lol). I still have a LONG way to go but I’m super proud of myself that I took this on.

Promotion – The other area where I tried out something new was promotion. I’ve usually relied on myself and my close circle to promote my music. This year, I went outside my comfort zone and did it differently. I worked with a few different people and had them help me. Additionally, I also tried Facebook advertising to see how that worked. It was pretty cool and I may try it out again. If anything, I made some pretty important steps that I’ll continue to leverage in 2018.


YouTube Videos – By far, I’d say the thing that kept me the busiest this year were my YouTube videos. Last year in my 2016 Year in Review, I set out to do a new YouTube series. Now while I did aim to hit 52 videos (one per week), I knew I was aiming way high and achieving that would be extremely difficult. Rather, I knew if I aimed for that and didn’t hit 52, I would’ve still come far and make progress. Well, I did and I’m also proud of this accomplishment. And while I didn’t even come close to the goal, it’s like I said earlier…this was a year of growth and learning. And I learned a lot. If you wanna check some out, I posted a playlist below.

Moving – Oh yea, did I mention that I moved? Yup, I mentioned it on the December 2017 Opinions Column (which I’m sure you’ve read haha). But if you haven’t, I’ll mention it again. This was definitely of the biggest milestones of my life, let alone this year. I got out of the old crib I was in and got myself a new one. Holla! It was a busy time looking for something to call home but the stars eventually aligned. It’s still a process and I’m still in transition-mode, but I’m adjusting. And yeah, it’s gonna be nice once I get the new booth back up and running!

All the traveling – One of the other things that kept me busy throughout the year was all this traveling I did. Earlier in the year, I went to London. While it was a very cold trip, it was also a very fun one too. We went to Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and Kensington Palace, among many other places. Later in the year, we took another trip to San Francisco, followed by Las Vegas. In SF, we visited the Golden Gate Bridge (of course), Pier 39, and Lombard Street. Of course, we also went more places here too. And I’d tell you what we did in Vegas but you know the saying lol. It’s been an absolute adventure doing all this traveling.

Boyz II Men concert – Ok, I know I just said I can’t mention what happened in Vegas but c’mon, we GOTTA talk about THIS. One of the items on my bucket list for the longest was seeing Boyz II Men live. Well, I finally got to…a few years ago in Orlando lol. However, the show was at Disney and left me underwhelmed. They hardly did any songs, the set was really short, and I didn’t have a good seat either. If I recall, I don’t even think I was sitting lol. Well fast forward to this recent Vegas trip and I wanted to see them again. I knew this show was going to be better because it was longer and I would actually have a seat lol. Not just that, but they’ve got a residency in Vegas so you know they’ve gotta put on a good show. Well, after experiencing this show, they delivered. The trio gave us some new songs, old songs, and a great overall SHOW (and not just singing). It lived up to my expectations and became one of the highlights of my year.

Favorite Music

Transitioning into music now, this year had its fair share of great music. One of my favs was Jay-Z’s “4:44”, mainly because he was able to transition into a more “grown” album while still giving us good music. He’s more mature on this album and showing all of us that hip hop can evolve and grow. G-Eazy’s album, while just dropping recently, has also became one of my favs for this year. You can tell he’s got skills on the mic but he keeps it current with his beat selections. Raekwon’s “The Wild” was also a dope ass album and super underrated (I dunno why, maybe cuz the Wu dropped an album?). All I know is, that was a fire album. And I’ve been peepin’ a LOT of Joyner Lucas, who’s also had a great year.

While those projects and artists might be my favs, I still jammed to a lot of other music. Some other solid projects include: Eminem’s “Revival” (although I’m still not sold on this broken-up flow that he’s on now), Kendrick Lamar’s “Damn” (not super classic as others are claiming but still cool), and albums from Big Sean, CyHi, Vic Mensa, and Logic. Honestly, I was reluctant to put Logic on here cuz his album wasn’t what I hoped for (especially after his last one) but there were some good songs so it was hard for me to completely ignore it.

Overall, it was a good year for hip hop.

The wrap-up

So looking back, 2017 has been pretty wow. I started a YouTube series, moved, and traveled all over the place. However, as wonderful as it has been, I still didn’t get to everything I wanted. There’s still a lot left to do so let me talk about that.

Firstly, I didn’t get to 52 videos. In fact, I didn’t even get to half of that. I guess I underestimated how much time it’ll take to write, record, memorize (!), mix down, shoot, and edit a video every week. The hardest part was rushing the creative process, especially when I wasn’t feeling anything. It was a tough task I was asking of myself, which is probably why I didn’t reach the number I set out. At the same time, I didn’t want to compromise on quality so maybe it’s good that I didn’t. Who knows?

The other thing I didn’t do was release any songs. While I was busy focusing on these freestyles and videos, I didn’t release one actual single. So as you might’ve guessed, I didn’t release any new videos either (and I remember when I set out a goal to do 4). And without any new songs, there wasn’t any album either. It’s becoming more clear that I need to manage my time better, especially with all the other stuff going on in life, and that I need to balance everything better too. Maybe I need to ask for more help or temper expectations. Or maybe, I need to get creative and find better ways to make it happen.

So yeah, despite the setbacks, this year as a whole was good. Whereas in years past I’d just put out a handful of songs (if that), this year I used the new booth that I built last year and recorded over like 20 tracks. That’s enough for an album or mixtape! I can appreciate, therefore, how much work I’ve put in. Gotta trust the process.

Next year

Ah yes, and now it’s time to talk about 2018. Whereas 2017 was a year of growth and learning, I can now apply some of those things to new projects. What new projects are you referring to, Jaxxx? Welllllllll……

I’m starting a video blog next year. While I’ve focused on creating content (freestyles, covers, etc.), I’ve learned that these types of projects take a lot of time, especially if I’m trying to keep a certain level of quality. By doing a vlog, I can still put out video content but not have to always “create.” Not just that, but I want to document the process of creating the new album and what better way than doing a vlog? I feel like this will free me up a bit more to make music, while also giving everyone a glimpse behind the curtains too. I’m not sure how this is gonna be, but we’re gonna try this out together. I’ll still continue doing music, but this will be a new outlet too.

Speaking of the album, the other thing I’m going to do more of this year is focus on songs. Again, last year I spent more of my energy on things like remixes that I neglected songs. I miss writing choruses and verses and bridges and all that other fun stuff lol. Not just that, but I have so many new song concepts that I need to put down on paper. And with a few new beats that I’ve already received, I should have material soon. So yeah, new songs and new videos coming for the new year. Believe me on that!

And on the topic of songs, we have to address the album. We have to. I was looking at the tracklist for “Something to Prove”, the album that I’ve been planning for forever. I mean, I put out “The Set-Up” in like 2007 or ’08, and it was supposed to be the “set up” to this lol. So many years later, and here we are. So yeah man, I don’t even have an explanation anymore for why it’s not out. I accept full responsibility for it though. I’m the one that’s been dragging my feet and losing sight of the goal. I understand that times have changed and consumption is different, but I owe it to myself to get this done. So 2018 will be the year that this album comes out. I’m equipped to make it happen. Not just that, but the video blog will hold me accountable. So get ready y’all (and I know I’ve said this before)…my new album WILL drop this year.

In between all that (like that isn’t enough haha), I need to make sure my health is right. So I’m going to get back in the gym. One thing I’ve noticed about myself throughout the last year are my energy levels. While before I was in the gym for appearance, I feel like now it’s more important for my energy and health. I need to get my energy levels back up so I can actually get all these projects done. So back to the gym I go.

On the design front, I’m going to design some new T-shirts and add a store section on the site where you’ll be able to find them. Speaking of the site, I also plan on updating it for current web standards and get it mobile-friendly. And I still need to redesign that logo of mine lol.

So in closing, there’s a lot on my plate. But in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

And with that said, I wish you a happy new year. And if you’ve read this far, THANK YOU! And thank you for rocking with me through this journey. It’s about to get more exciting this upcoming year and I’m glad you’re with me. Here’s to a fantastic 2018. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!