Russ ON: Toxic Masculinity, Music & Mental Health: “My Songs Were Cries For Help” | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Russ ON: Toxic Masculinity, Music & Mental Health: “My Songs Were Cries For Help”".


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Intro (00:00)

When you get everything you thought you wanted and you still feel empty, you realized, wow, that was not what I was supposed to be chasing. This is one of the most remarkable amazing stories in hip-hop. Russ! I do whatever I want, whenever I want, I'm like... I thought I'm never gonna get depressed. What does that even mean? I don't need any, oh look. And it's like deep down you wanted everyone though. How strong of a man are you if you're scared to face yourself? Straight up. Before we jump into this episode, I'd like to invite you to join this community to hear more interviews that will help you become happier, healthier and more healed. All I want you to do is click on the subscribe button. I love your support, it's incredible to see all your comments and we're just getting started. I can't wait to go on this journey with you. Thank you so much for subscribing, it means the world to me. The best-selling author and post. The number one health and wellness podcast. On purpose with Jay Shetty. How do you even go about thinking about what being enough means, especially in a culture that's comparing and always putting you up against other people?

Discussion On Men'S Mental Health And Vulnerability

Being Your Own Worst Critic (00:59)

Yeah, it's so hard for me because I think it does start in childhood and I think it started with wanting to meet the standard that my dad said. My dad who I love him, and disclaimer before this interview goes more, it's like I love my parents and they have done I think a great job and I don't blame them for anything. There's just realities that have happened that there's experiences that I have that I now have to deal with and learn from etc. But my dad's standard was perfection a lot of times and he was very critical. So for me, his metric, it was impossible to meet, I ended up adopting it as my own. The inner voice for a long time, it was my dad's inner voice of that's not good enough. You got a 92 on the test, if you would have studied, you got a 100, but it's still an A, but little things like that are showing him music early on and career stuff and just in general. But that inner voice that used to be his became my own inner voice. So now it becomes this inner critic that when I go platinum, it's like it doesn't do it. Maybe double platinum will. Maybe triple, oh, how much money did you make? 10, oh, maybe 11 million will make you feel good. So you keep chasing the next thing thinking that's what's going to make you feel good about yourself. I think to reference the Rick Rubin interview, I think he mentioned something where it's like, you get the number one album, you get all this stuff and it doesn't do what you wanted it to do and you feel emptier than ever. I think that's kind of the place I got to was I got the money, the house, the this and whatever. And that's how you know there's really something missing because how did you get all that and you still don't feel good. And it's a really empty feeling because most people in the world think that the reason why they're not happy and not feeling enough is all these things that they'll probably never get. And it's kind of this beautiful blissfully ignorant place to live because you just get to like, always have this idea that, nah, I know like I'm going to keep going towards this and I know this is what's going to give me happiness even though you'll probably never get it, right? Most people won't ever see a million dollars or whatever. But for the people who get in, and I want no sympathy for like, oh, we don't feel bad for your millionaire, get over it. But it's like, when you get everything you thought you wanted and you still feel empty, you realize that, wow, that was not what I was supposed to be chasing. And there's a bigger hole here. And now I need to grow down, you know, and I need to look internal because external didn't do it.

Russ On His Song 'Oasis' (03:50)

And that's what Oasis is all about in the album, right? Yeah. So Oasis is the closest track to that feeling or? So Oasis was sort of this fool's paradise is what the idea behind that song was. It was like, I got the house, the life, everything on surface look like, okay, you did it. And internally though, I was still a mess. I was joking with you, you know, off camera like last time we talked, you know, I was 30 pounds overweight. It was just proportioned nicely. So it didn't, it wasn't like too big in anyone's place. But I was 30 pounds overweight. I was drinking too much. I was eating too much. I had no discipline over my thoughts, my eating habits. I had no discipline over my sexual energy, things like that. So it was really like I was a glutton, you know, but the way that is dressed up sometimes, you're a rock star. You're a king, you know. And so Oasis is about on surface. Yeah, you're eating good. You're, you know, you're gaining weight, but that's because you're getting money and you're eating good and you're sleeping with random women and drinking, but it's all good because, look, another practice came in and more money came in another sold out show. And it was sort of poking like that whole song is sort of like poking fun at me, because I'm in my little Oasis. I'm distracted by like, look at my house, look at my life. What like, I love what you just said. You're like, you're distracted by the gold. Yeah.

Facing Your Issues (05:11)

And you're distracted by the shining lights and the bright things and the plaques. When you're that distracted, how do you open up your eyes? Like, how do you even get to a point now where you're able to look back and go, I was distracted. Now I'm a bit more awake and I'm working on this stuff, because I can imagine that it gets so loud. You're a rock star, you're a king, you're all these things. And then all of a sudden, you've got to kind of like quiet that down and go, but I'm still not happy. How do you get that breakthrough? Because I feel like we're all the best at setting ourselves up for failure. And we're all the best at avoiding advice when it's good. Like, I know when I'm wrong, because when my wife says something and I know she's right, and I don't want to admit it, because I know she's right. And that's what, but it's that awareness piece is so hard. How did you, what was the moment for you, because you are killing it, you're still killing it. You looked well then to me, you looked well to me today, like you look great. And I really enjoyed your company last time and I'm enjoying your company this time. So externally, you could argue, well, what's going on? As men, we get good at masking it. That's part of like, I have a long answer for this, but Go on, go for it. First of all, therapy is kind of what like, not woke me up, but it helped. But something I learned in therapy is this idea that society measures a man based off of how much they can carry, how far they can carry it, and how alone they can carry it. And I think for a lot of men, we have become professional hiders of our pain. And so while I was quote unquote distracted, what woke me up to what was going on was that there was psychological warfare and internal chaos constantly anyway. You know, I like, I just kept pushing it down, pushing it down, but I knew it was there because I was pushing it down. And it just got to a point where I just had a breakdown. When it just, you push it down enough. And at some point, you can't push it anymore. And it, you know, overflows in it. And what I learned is when you're burying it, burying it, burying it, when it does finally just explode, it's always going to be at the worst time. And that time came right before a European tour that I had scheduled. And I had to cancel it because I was like, my body and spirit in mind just shut down. I just couldn't even do it. I couldn't even like go through the motions of acting like I could perform. And, you know, through therapy and talking every week, you know, and really, really being vulnerable and being honest with my therapist, which I couldn't wait for like getting a therapist has been at the top of my to-do list for like four years. And I just never did. I never got around to it because I just always once again was like, do I really need one? Look how good my life is. Like, no, I think I'm tripping. But it just got to this point, man, where I was like, I need to talk to someone because I feel like I'm going insane. It's just been so helpful because I'm like, I want to figure out what's going on internally. So it's like, well, I don't know how to fix this. So let's act like it doesn't exist, you know? I'm so glad you raised this because I've been looking for the person I'm about to introduce a conversation that I've been trying to find the right person to have it with.

Why Do Men Struggle With Emotions? (08:19)

Yeah. And it just clicked me in this moment that you're that person. Come on. Like literally. And I think it's such an important conversation that I've been trying to navigate. I have it offline a lot, but I haven't really had it online. So this was the first time that I talk about it here. But it's like, you just raised that as a man, especially, we're good at masking it. Yeah. And I think men in today's society, being a man in today's society is such an interesting time. And you come across to me is, you know, like you're, and you can describe in your own sense, but you're a confident man, you know, you're a man's man, I'd say as well, like, I don't know how you see yourself. That's why I don't know how you see yourself. I was going to ask you. Yeah. Because you so confidently are like, hey, man, I need to find help. I went to therapy. Yeah. But at the same time, you're a rapper on stage. He's like dropping like the best bars. And so I'm like, when you look at that paradox, I love that, because I'm thinking about what is it that you think men are struggling with most? And maybe it's even for your own friends, the people you hang out with, like, what do you think men are struggling with in today's society? Because I don't feel we talk about that enough with like what the struggle is. Yeah. I think, I mean, so much, but I think, I think men are struggling with being in tune with their own emotions and feeling safe and feeling like they have permission from themselves to feel what they're feeling because society has told them, get over it effectively, you know? And I think for me, that's what I did for the, you know, for the most part. And I think my generation, let alone like generations before me, like, we all saw our dads probably just like, get over it and figure it out and, you know, brush the dirt off and keep going. And that's what I did. And I would just put little trickles of what I was feeling in the music. Like it's so funny, you know, when I had that breakdown, when I finally just was honest with myself and got a therapist, I would go back and listen to old songs, like songs like Nobody Knows or songs like All To You. And it's like, these were like such cries for help that I think made me feel more insane because I would put them out and they just became songs, you know? And it's sort of downplayed what was really going on because it's like I take a very vulnerable real emotion of sadness and pain and confusion and feeling lost and don't know what to do and turn it into two and a half minutes of music. And now it just becomes numbers on a screen and streams and how loud is it at the shows. And I forget, fans forget, people forget, but most importantly, I forget that. Oh, no, like this was like really what I was going to. This isn't just like a lullaby. Yeah, I think you're right. I feel like when I talk to people, I feel like men are feeling a lot of pressure to be a lot of things, like to be successful, to have it together, to have some emotional maturity, figure out their mental health. And again, you know, every gender has their own pressures that come with it. But I think I know a lot of men who feel scared to share that pressure because they feel like you said that they shouldn't have it. They're not allowed to have that pressure. I think you're one of the few music artists that has found a way of intertwining mental health and music in a way that it's not cheesy and it's not like corny and it's not like it comes across like when I listen to you, I'm just like, God, that's a bar.

Using Music To Address Mental Health (11:42)

That's like, you know, you can appreciate it just because it's good music. And then knowing that you have this conscious side to yourself, was that like always at the forefront of when you got into music? Or was it something that evolved with time because of your journey? Because I think it's quite, it's quite a hard balance to talk about meaningful stuff. Yeah. In a way that doesn't come across as cheesy and corny. So how do you, how have you found a way of being able to do that? Yeah, I think I always was looking for answers, you know, and I think I always, as a consumer of music, I always like substance and lyrics and things that I could, you know, things that meant something, you know, things that maybe could help me. And as an artist, when I wanted to make my own, I was trying to find answers like my creative side was trying to piece together these other sides of me like what was going on with my family, with my friends, with my relationship with my career. Like the creative side of me would come in and be like, maybe this means that. Maybe what your feeling means this. Maybe, you know, and like I said, there's like all these little like Easter eggs, I guess, throughout my catalog of me trying to figure it out. And so I think I was just naturally and am naturally a curious person and an ambitious person. And so like, ambitious in the sense that I really want to figure out what is going on with me. Like I want to know why I think the way I think where that came from. And I think in the past, it's funny when you're like, you're a confident man, etc, etc. I was omnipotent. And I've learned that that's not confidence, you know, that's insecurity. And, you know, I, because I mean, this is so, so multi-layered, but it's funny your shirt says imperfections because it really stems from me being a perfectionist. Right. So like me being a perfectionist, there's no room for me to not be right. There's no room for me to not know what like not act like I know everything and what's going on. And I got being a perfectionist from like the standard that my dad said, which ended up becoming my own standard. So early on in my career, I had this omnipotence where like I knew everything, everything I was doing was right. And I felt like I had to act like that because if you're a perfectionist, there is no room for criticism. Perfectionists are trying to run from criticism and help is coded as criticism to a perfectionist. So I didn't want any help. And if you tried to help, I took it as a critique and it threatened my idea of being a perfectionist. Wow. You know, so like I'm trying to figure out the answers. So like, dude, I one thing you said to me last time, I've quoted this so many times in interviews when I get asked questions about like, Oh, what was one of your favorite takeaways? And it's from our interview. And it's you said that when you sometimes get in the studio at that time, you were like, I get rid of all my friends. Yeah. So I can be in there alone and make weird sounds that I wouldn't make when people are in the room because I might be scared of what they think. And I've said that to so many people and everyone's always like quite blown away or taken aback because I guess it's not a common thing that artists do. And it stayed with me for so long. But I was interested by what you just said, like, how did your immediate, I guess your immediate circle, I'm assuming you're around people that you love. But how do you think then the wider circle responds to you saying things like, I need help, therapy is good for you.

Society's Stigma Around Men's Mental Health (15:02)

And like, you know, like, do you feel like the wider circle goes automatically? Like, do you think the world's got to a place now where we're like, yes, Russ, that makes sense. You're right. Or do you still have people around you going, no, you don't need therapy, man. You just need to go smoke or blow some cash or like, what because you come from the rap music world. I wonder what do you hear? I think my friends, like my immediate circle, my friends were all very supportive. My family was supportive as well. But they're obviously like, what's going on. Because my identity has been attached when it comes to my family, my identity has been attached to helping them. You know, that's how I felt safe. That was the role I played. And I've never asked for help. I've never received help. I've never come off like I needed help. And so when they saw that I needed therapy, I'm canceling Tor, it's like 911 in my house, you know, as far as like my family. And so they were just like really concerned. But I think as far as the world's concern, I do think the world is more open and receptive to the idea of men needing help. And that's okay. And even if they're not open to it, that is naturally where this is going. Like, I just feel like the pendulum has to swing at some point. And this whole idea that men have to just be like, you know, military men who show nothing, no emotions and like figure it out. And don't ask for help. And we do it ourselves. It's like, that is not sustainable. You know, it's just not men need to communicate and collaborate with each other and, you know, not feel so alone. How have you found the reaction to that from like straight women? Do straight women find men more or less attractive or good partners based on that kind of approach and vulnerability?

Why Are Men Afraid To Show Vulnerability, Especially Around Women? (16:51)

Like, I think it depends on the woman. And I think a lot of times there's great women out there who will respond well to that. And there's women who won't. And I think a lot of times with men, you know, they are scared to show that vulnerability because of what a lot of women have displayed, which is like, now I'm not attracted to you. And it's like, you know, I said on, I said on enough on Santiago, some women looking at you lesser if there's tears on your cheek. But if there's tears tattooed, that same girl is a freak. So they're attracted to the pain unless they hear the pain speak. So it's like, it's really interesting. Because when you, when you talk to, when you talk to women, when you thank you, it's like, when you talk to women and you like kind of see where their heads at, you see that they kind of like a lot of women want this sort of rough and rugged guy who's like, he's tough and all these things. But like, you don't want him to talk about it. Because now he's soft, but it's like, so you want him to have some pain. Because that's what makes him the rough and rugged, you know, but you just don't want to hear about it. And so where does he go then? And so you just want him to be quiet. But then you're wondering why he can't open up to you. Oh, well, he just doesn't open up to me. Which one is it? This isn't Build-A-Bear. You know what I mean? Like, and I feel women too, who it's like, dudes want the girl who does it. That's why it's like, find someone that's compatible with you and gets you and rock out and forget about the rest. Yeah, but I love the way you do it. I mean, the lyric speaks for itself, but that is summed up so well. And by the way, everyone who's listening, I'm not trying to take sides or you get where I'm coming from. Like, I'm just trying to come from a place of like, where are we? It's exactly what Russia said. Like, we want something to be tough, but without the pain, without talking about the pain. And it's like, that's just not real. It doesn't exist. The idea that someone is tough and hasn't been through pain is non-existent. Yeah. And at some point, that person is going to need to express or connect or collaborate, as you said, either with you or other people about their pain. This also applies to women. It applies to every gender that people who've been through pain are going to have stories to tell. And if you want someone tough, chances are that they've got grit and resilience, because they've had massive loss in their life. So I think you just summed up, that is exactly what I was trying to get to. It's like, pain is a prerequisite for being a tough, hardened man. Hardened from what? You know, hardened by what? It's pain. Experience. So it's like, I just, I do think it's really interesting for the group of women who want vulnerability and openness emotionally from men, who they also almost shame into thinking that keep your pain to yourself, though. Yeah. And then there's the other side that find I have a lot of friends who are like, my man doesn't open up, right?

How To Get Men To Open Up (19:49)

Like, I have a lot of friends who are like, look, I want to be there for him. Like, I'm ready to listen to him. Like, I want him to be more open about his feelings. Well, because men are scared that if they do, oh, wow, never mind. This is unattractive. Yeah. Yeah. Because it goes against what we as men have been taught, makes a strong man. It's not personal to you. It's how society has set us up. We've been brainwashed. Yeah. You know, what you say yours is just you're so seeking the answers. Like, what gave you the courage to break that as someone who's a stage performer, crushing it, who has, who has actually everything that 99% of men won. Yeah. What gave you the, was it courage or was it just like, I just need this? Like, you know, yeah, it was at a desperation, to be honest. And also, I think like being isolated from society plays like a part in it. Like, I'm not out and about. I'm not trying to be on the scene and make friends. Like, there's a part of like, being in my bubble that sort of gives me that safety net of like, okay, if I'm vulnerable, it's like, who does that really? I'm not worried if that girl or this person is going to feel away. Like, it's kind of just me, you know, that has to do with that distance. I feel like people struggle with that even if they're not an in entertainment. Yeah. People get glued to social media. They get addicted. How are you keeping distance when you're so interconnected to the industry in one sense? I think it's also just a testament though to my fans. I think I've had, like, I'm really fortunate to have the kind of fans that I do that are actually supporters of me. And from the beginning, I've tried to be as authentic as I was in that moment. And I've tried to be vulnerable and introspective. And I think all of that played a part. And when I did have to cancel tour and when I have let fans in on like the journey of mental health and therapy, then being open to it because this isn't coming out of complete left field as far as the introspection and the vulnerability. I'm a vulnerable artist. I never was like that worried, like, if my male fans would be like, Oh, we're out because it's like, y'all are singing losing control. Yeah. You know what I mean? Like, y'all are singing love songs and heartbreak songs. So you know what I'm saying? Straight up. And it's like, everyone's at a different place in their journey. And like, however, like, wherever you're at is fine. Yeah, I remember that when I was when I was a teenager, when I thought I was when that's when I thought I was cool. Right. It was like, I was that kind of person that didn't understand how someone could get depressed because I didn't get it. I was like, that four years ago. Yeah, it's like you have that mindset like, what does that mean? Right? And then you go through your own stuff and you're like, Oh, I get it now. And I found that for me, I found that life has this really strange way of making you go through things that you thought shouldn't affect anyone. Right. So if you and your head have an idea of like, I don't understand that. I don't know how that affects someone. Like, just wait, literally. And that's happened to me so many times. And so whenever now I have that thought, I literally catch it and I go, let's get rid of that thought because let me actually try and be curious about it, rather than look at it in a condescending way. Yeah, because chances are if I see it in a derogatory way or a negligent way, I'm going to have to experience it just for life to teach me that it's real. Yeah. Yeah. I got humbled for sure by that kind of thing where it's like, I realized back to me being omnipotent, I got humbled by realizing, Oh, I don't know everything. You know, because I thought I'm never going to get depressed. What does that even mean? Like, what's that? You know, and then all of a sudden you're like, Okay, so this can happen to me. Yeah, describe that for me. What was that for you? Like, I think you hear, and I think I can ask you this because I feel like you articulate your thoughts so well and you really get in there with what's going on. Like, so many people have said this, right? This idea of like, you get the triple platinum, you get the money, and it doesn't work like what actually, and I'm asking you because I feel like you'll get in there, what is actually not working about that?

Why Does Success Not Bring Happiness? (23:38)

Like, what is it about that? That doesn't help you feel better or solve the void. What is it? Why does it not work? Because I think so many people say that, but then everyone goes, Oh, yeah, but you're a millionaire, you can say that. Yeah. But let's try help people out there because I still, like, if I prefer being financially safe and successful in doing what I love, I do prefer that to when I was close to being broke and not successful in what I did. Right. I much prefer my life right now. Right. But I also know that the thing that gives me deep meaning and keeps me going is my purpose. That's connected to my work. Like, as long as I feel I'm positively impacting people, yeah, I'm serving people, and I'm using my voice to make a difference in people's lives. That is what actually makes me happy. Yeah. And then what happens around it is like the best bonus of all time. Yeah. See, that's a good value to have though, is like in good perspective for me, the plaques or whatever, it not working is really just because you're clearly or I was clearly seeking validation subconsciously. And I thought that becoming a big artist and plaques and all that was going to make me feel validated and make me feel like I belong and make me feel approved and make me feel good enough. And when I got all that and I still had all of those issues, that's what I mean by not working. And I agree too, like, I prefer my life now, then then the alternative, but the hole is still there. And I think at 17, when I started like really going after this, I don't know if I had the depth in the awareness to know what I was going after, like I'm chasing approval and validation. But when I look back, I can pinpoint certain behaviors and certain times in the studio, whatever where I was like, where I can tell I wanted people to validate me. And I want and I thought that rap in the industry was going to pat me on the back, you know, and that's kind of what I talk about. And I love you, boy, which is like, you know, I just I replaced my dad with the industry, which is really like wild, right? Because I felt like as a kid wanting just approval of your dad as a son, you know, when you don't get it, you can feel like ostracized kind of and just like you don't belong, you're not good enough and all these things. And it's so strange that as a white guy, what I chose to pick to replace my dad to give me approval was a craft that I'm ostracized in off of that. You know what I mean? It's like, it's like, I picked the hardest thing to get approval from. Like I replaced my dad with an industry and started to rap. I want to praise and acknowledgement and pick the profession that people who look like me don't get. You know what I mean? So it's like, it was almost like, I guess if I could like analyze where my head was at when I was 17, maybe because it's like, if I could get approval from this thing that I love, this genre, this lifestyle, this whole culture, then I'm officially approved, you know, because I know how hard it is to get approval from that. And I don't know, it just but it really stemmed from once again, not having the self approval and the self validation and thinking that someone else is going to give it to you. And I remember talking with my therapist and he was like, oh, I think I said like, yeah, but you know, if I do get a number one album or a number one, go number one on the Billboard Hot 100. And this person says, I'm great. I'm sure like, I'll feel really good. He's like, you probably will for about 20 minutes. And then I think you'll have your lowest moment of your life. You know, and I agree. You know, because when I have gotten crazy accomplishments, it lasts for not that long. And I'm right back to like, I'm lower, because that's another thing on the list that didn't do it. That's another thing that didn't fill the hole, you know, Forbes list, Nope, Platinum, Nope, Buy Mom House, no, like none of it, you know. I see what you're saying. And I want to be I want that to register with people because what Russ is doing, which I appreciate is clarifying the difference. It's great in and of itself. Yeah, it just doesn't fill the hole inside. Like it doesn't solve the fact that I don't feel better about who I am and myself. It's beautiful to buy your mom a house. That's awesome. Like, it's good for her. It's great. Like that's not the point. The point is it doesn't change how I feel about my level of self work and self esteem. Yeah, the point is like, if I thought that buy my mom a house and make him the Forbes list and going platinum was going to make me feel validated, approved, and like I'm good enough, then that's the mistake. That's where you're going to feel emptier than ever because you're going to do that. And that's not what's going to do it. Yeah, what's really interesting for me listening to you is so I'm kind of like where you're out with your parents where I love both my parents and independently and in the same way I have a good relationship with both of them today. But it wasn't always it wasn't that way externally. And with my dad especially, so my dad didn't validate me or even support me when I was growing up. Like he would if he turned up to a swim competition because I used to swim a lot, when I'd look up at the stands, he'd be reading his newspaper. So or if I was I played rugby for my school and it was one of my favorite things that I made it onto my school's rugby team. I used to be a lot bigger growing up and he would never turn up to support me. And so my dad wasn't there. That was really interesting because at the time it made me just want to get approval of my friends and like be cool and whatever and that leads you to do all sorts of dumb stuff. But what it ultimately led me to was I got to make my own rules of what success were. So not getting his he never had a version of success for me. Like he almost didn't have like this is what you have to be to be successful. And so I've always seen it as I just got freedom to define what kind of man I wanted to be. Because my dad didn't really define what kind of man he cared I would be. Right. And it's really interesting now because when I look at my relationship with him today, he's more like a friend than he is my dad because he wasn't really fathering me. And I think where I got really lucky like this really was was like one of those moments when you feel fortunate is I projected that lack of fatherhood, fortunately onto the monks. So I like because that wasn't what I was meant to be and I wasn't spiritual and I really look at that as like I didn't have any positive role models in my life. I didn't have any positive male role models in my life. And the monks were positive male role models and I met them at when I was 18 years old. So important. So important. And the craziest thing about them is they don't validate you. Wow. So it was like even more challenging but it's like you see an amazing role model who's showing you the right way but is not trying to falsely validate or approve you. So you still have to figure it out. You still have to do it yourself. They're teaching you what you just said how to do it yourself. Like that it's still you on your own. You've got to live in your own mind. And when you realize that it's like, yeah, I live in my own mind. Yeah. These are my thoughts. What you just said earlier, I either have to I either am translating my dad's voice into becoming my voice or I'm actually going to choose what I want my thoughts to be. Right. And that's what they were training us in. So through so much fortune, I got to that point. Yeah. And even till this day, I'm constantly just practicing that because again, I haven't perfected it. I still get into the place where you start hearing the noise. It's so funny because that's why I ended the album with just me singing it was you all along.

Why Self-Validation Is Important (31:37)

Because all these things I'm chasing validation, love, approval, patience, all of it is things that I have to give myself. And I just I thought that everything and everyone else was going to give it to me. Tell me some of the ways you've been giving it to yourself because you are getting like you said, like a lot of people get to the point you've got to when they're unsuccessful. So like they wait till the records now not getting the downloads and the streams and like they're not really winning the stuff and things aren't going well. And then you go, oh, this wasn't it. You're realizing it while things are hot, right? Like things are good. You got a new album dropping. The music sounds great by the way. I wanted to say like I was thankful that your team sent me the album before and it's like I can't wait to play it more and more. And I can't wait for everyone to hear it. Music's awesome. And I just go, you're winning and you realized it. Like, what are some of the things you're doing to validate yourself? What are you doing? Like, that's what I'm still working on. Yeah. What are some of the practices that happen? I think, you know, it's having good values is one of them values that like I can control, you know, I think honoring the gift is important celebrating myself. And I think a way that I've celebrated myself, which makes me feel good about myself, is to honor my gift. And so for example, like going to the gym for me to lose 30 pounds of fat, not muscle, right? 30 pounds of fat was crazy. I did it through shame. You need to lose weight, you know, and just talking crazy to myself. And it still worked. But I lost the weight and I still didn't feel good about myself. I still had a breakdown, you know. And so now I'm looking at going to the gym as I'm celebrating my health and my body. I'm honoring the gift of being alive and being mobile, you know, and celebrating the gift of my creativity by going to the studio instead of looking at going to the studio like, I need to catch a hit. Otherwise I'm a loser. It's like, nah, I'm celebrating myself. Every time I go to the studio, it's a celebration. That's that's already a great mindset. Yeah, it's better than where I was. No, well, I think what we don't realize is even if critical judgmental negative motivation works, yeah, the problem is now that's all you have in your toolkit to motivate yourself. Right.

Creating A Healthy Internal Monologue (33:47)

So when you've lost the weight you wanted to lose, you're now motivating yourself still through that criticism judgment and right, like talking down to yourself. And even with the music, I love what you just said, you feel so much more abundant. Yeah. When you walk into something and you go, I'm just here because I'm grateful to be alive. I'm happy to be here as opposed to, God, if I don't write the next hit and I know so many musicians that say that to me and the music is the hardest place. Yeah. And I feel like I have so many people in my life that are friends that feel that pressure because again, like you said, it's the pressure they're hearing from their management, right, their team, their fans, potentially, if they're not connected to them, you're going to become irrelevant. Yeah. You'll never be as big as so and so. Right. Didn't you see what they just did? Like, and so if you don't have that healthy dialogue internally, and I do think it is that for me as well, it's like, I spend, I spend so much time alone just to monitor my internal dialogue. Scary. Because it's the only way. It's terrifying. Because when I'm alone, I can truly choose and program the thoughts in my mind. Yeah. Whereas if I'm constantly surrounded by people in noise, it's natural that it's going to seep in. Well, sometimes the noise distracts us from looking in because looking in is scary. That's what I was doing. I think that's the biggest reason why people don't want to spend time alone. Of course. Especially men because like, we once again know that, or we have like believed that our emotions are relevant and ignore them. Be like, just completely avoid feeling anything. And that's what makes you a man. And so I think spending time alone in meditation and doing like, personal work is a very like, it feels feminine to men. It feels soft. And something interesting that I stumbled on is like, how strong of a man are you and how brave of a man are you if you're scared to face yourself? And wow. Yeah. Yeah, that's the real bravery. Yeah. Sitting in a room with yourself. That's like, that's courageous.

Yeah. I think it goes back to what you were saying earlier that it's the perfection and positivity issue that we keep thinking that everything has to be like positive and sunny. And when I look inside of myself, I see tons of a dark side and stuff that I don't want to see. But I also know that that's not me because of how we were trained. The idea that you know, the concept in all of the monk teachings is that the sun is always shining. It's just often covered by clouds. And so when you look up at the sky, all you see is the clouds. You don't see the sun and you think, I am the clouds. So when you look at your thoughts, you see the cloudy thoughts and you think, I'm darkness. Yeah. But actually, the sun's always there. It's just you can't see it. And so the light that me and you are, the light that everyone is listening and watching is is always there. It's just we're just seeing all the dirt and the clouds and the rain and the, you know, and we then judge it and see as negative rather than the fact that, hey, wait a minute, I'm just, I'm just going to find the light. And I understand that sometimes it's going to be a cloudy day, just like it is outdoors. Yeah. And that's what led me to feeling like a fraud. That's, that's songs amazing. That's what that is. It's because looking at the cloud thinking you are the cloud. And so then when people give you a compliment, you're like, they're giving you a compliment on you being the sun. And for me, I'm like, if only you knew I was a cloud, I would look at my shadow self and the parts of me that I'm ashamed of, it would make it impossible for me to receive love and compliments or anything positive. Also tied in with feeling like a fraud was me having to analyze, well, why did my parents getting a divorce actually affect me? Why did the hate coming in actually affect me? Because on surface, it felt so vapid like, your parents broke up and people don't like you. Big deal, right? But when I through therapy and through really growing down, that's when I learned like, okay, hold on, since I was a kid, my role and my identity came from being the savior of my family emotionally, you know? And I talk about it on, I love you, boy, where my dad was very reactive and my mom was like fatalistic. And I was just the one running around knocking on everyone's door to make sure like everyone was good after a big fight or whatever, you know, because I was worried, genuinely worried, so the stakes were super high. They felt like life or death, you know, like maybe there was going to be self harm or something. And so my identity was tied to saving my family and helping them. So when my parents got divorced, it was the ultimate blow to my identity of being the savior. It wasn't just like your parents broke up, bro, you're 23, you get over. It was like, who am I? If my parents break up, who am I? If I can't save us, right? And then with the hate coming in, I got my self worth from being approved and liked by everyone. And so when I got hate and a lot of it, it wasn't just you have haters get over it was who am I if people don't like me. So it just that's what threw me for a spin. It was, I feel like a fraud. That is so deep. Your identity is based on the roles you played. Right. And if you can no longer play that role, who am I? Then who is, what is your identity? Right. And that's where it's hard because that means going back to what you said earlier, which was really powerful, is that your values is the best place to start because your values is something you can control. If you only value yourself for a role you play for other people, which you don't control, now that's not your value. And when they break up, well, it goes astray, you don't know who you are anymore. That is devastating blow. Yeah. Yeah. Especially when I didn't know why I was so upset by it. I was like, this shouldn't be effective. I'm 24, 24, like, what's the big deal? But it just didn't go away. And then it was funny that like the hate and them divorcing came at the same time. And now when I look back, I'm like, this was all by design. This was all to help me grow down. But yeah, it's like, when you've gotten your identity from a role that you've been playing for so long and that role is taken away from you or threatened, it's like, yeah, who are you? You said that phrase twice, just now growing down and not growing up. Yeah. What does that mean?

Addressing Self-Doubt And Negative Mindset

What Does 'Growing Down' Mean? (40:20)

Because I like that. I think a lot of times in my career, I was just focused on external growth. And like, am I getting more followers? Am I getting more money? Am I getting more plaques? Am I growing up? And I wasn't focused on growing down into like the core of who I am and getting to the root of it and to the truth of myself. And that's what I've been trying to do. That's what this album is, is like me growing down, trying to get deeper and deeper into who I actually am. Because I'm just trying to operate from a place of authenticity and truth. And it's hard to feel authentic and be authentic when you're operating from a place of shame. Like, I'm ashamed of who I am and I'm insecure about who I am. So how can I be authentic? Because authentic, being authentic with me and being insecure and being, and it's like, I can't be that, especially in rap. You know what I mean? So it's like, got to mask it, got to be omnipotent, you know? What was the darkest and scariest thing you saw when you started growing down?

Feeling Insecure and Facing Dark Thoughts (41:29)

I think the biggest thing I, the like darkest thing and thought I had was like, I don't like myself. That was like the heaviest. And what was it that you didn't like? I was ashamed about how I've handled my career. I was very mad about at like 23 year old me. I would beat him up daily. I was mad about, you know, me being reactive towards people. I just didn't like anything about, you know, myself. And that was a real low point of like, once again, fraud, if only the world knew, you know, and I've self-help book, right? And I mentioned that on fraud as well. It's like, who am I? Like to try to give people a book. Like, and for me, the book so successful and it's helped a lot of people, but I look back at that book. I'm like, it's like vapid to me now, you know, and I'm glad it's helping people, but, and I shouldn't, I shouldn't denounce any version of me. That's like, I'm watching it in real time. What I do, and yeah, that's the, that's the heaviest, darkest thing that I've come to terms with, not that it's a reality of mine that I want to come to terms with, but getting to a place of like, I don't, I don't like myself. That was a low point. I love what you just said that it's like, being authentic means being able to accept that I feel insecure. Right. And that, that last version of me just got me through that. And that doesn't make it good or bad, but it was a reality. But we think being authentic means being like smooth and like, right. Organized. What I've learned in therapy is the admission of insecurity and feeling nervous is step one, because what happened to me, and I think what happens to a lot of people is rejecting your insecurities leads to self destruction. So for example, like I used to do interviews super drunk, right? Why? Because I was nervous and insecure about just being my authentic self. I didn't know how to be that version. So I would drink to knock the edge off. So like, the rejecting of my insecurity led to self destructive habits and overall a result that I don't like, you know. So yeah, I think just sitting in your insecurities and, and, and saying that it's okay to be insecure and feel nervous. Yeah. And I think for me, it's like, no, like, especially as men, like, no, I'm not allowed to like, we got to be the man, you know. Yeah. Yeah. I often like, even when I, if I ever end up, I don't go to many parties or events and things like that. But if I ever have to, or I do go for a specific purpose, and it was, it was what it was on the Trevor Noah interview, when Trevor came on the show, he said to me, he goes, Jay, you always seem really comfortable whenever I see you somewhere. And I was like, that's because I only really go to places I have a purpose. Like I was like, I don't have a purpose there. I was like, if you ever see me uncomfortable, it's because I don't have a purpose, then I don't know what I'm doing there. Yeah. And I had a couple of those last year, which we talked about as funny enough. My, my team was like, Oh, you should definitely go to this event. It's really important and stuff. And so I went along, and I just felt really insecure there and useless because I didn't have a role. I didn't have a purpose. Yeah. I wasn't representing what I believe I got to, obviously I was representing myself, but I mean, I wasn't there to represent anything bigger than me showing up. And I found that when I do feel like that, I just go up to one other person that I feel I could connect with and just be like, Hey, I'm, are you feeling insecure too? Because I am. And it's, that's, and it's amazing because everyone's feeling insecure. Like, especially at like these big events. Yeah. That like, no one, there's no one, no matter how cool you think anyone is, there is no one who's at an award sure an event or a part, you're anything that is feeling anything but insecure. Right. I've not met them at least. Right. It doesn't that break the wall down. Literally, like as soon as you do that, it's like, it goes away. It's the resisting the insecurity that has everyone on edge. And they're looking at you and you seem to have it all the way together. Meanwhile, you're panicking inside. Yeah. And now they feel like, well, I got to have it all the way together. And we're all tense and just like acting. Yeah. And if we could just be like, Hey, is everyone nervous? Like, it's almost like, let's all stay in here naked. Like, that's what that does emotionally. You know what I mean? It's like, all right, cool. Now let's like, now let's continue. Yeah. And that happens in all, like, you know, it happens in family events, it happens at weddings, it happens at holiday events. Like, it happens in normal life. You don't, this isn't just about the entertainment industry. Like it happens everywhere. Yeah. And I fully agree with you that it's cause we're just resisting in your, in your words, like resisting that insecurity. Yeah. What's an insecurity that you are resisting for the longest time?

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome (46:22)

Like, what would you say was an insecurity that you've just been holding on to for not feeling like I don't belong. That's probably like one of the biggest ones being a white guy in rap in hip hop. With no cosign within the culture to sort of make me feel like I do belong. It was, it was a massive insecurity of mine. And I just came in guns blazing. Like, I don't need any of all look, and it's like deep down, you wanted everyone though. You wanted help deep down, you know, but you masked it by, well, if I'm not going to get it, I'll do it myself. And that became like a really big like brand and motto for me. And I don't think people understand that my song do it myself and that energy, it was survival. It wasn't like, if you have people willing to help, you should tell them no. It was, I didn't have help. I wish I did, but I didn't. So I had to do it myself. Has there anyone who's ever reached out in the industry that you feel has not cosigned, obviously, but like given you a bit of that kind of nurturing, or has it still always been kind of like, I'm making my own. I think I've met a lot of great people in the industry who have given me validation and like, you're great, you're dope. But like, yeah, I mean, I've never been like taking under someone's wing. Yeah, you know, it was always just kind of like me and my manager just like going at this thing, you know. And I'm trying to be more proud of my younger self as much as I want to beat him up for how he like was omnipotent in the maniac. But it's like, for what you were going through, that you crushed, you know, like, I don't know how you did all that. And that's what I love you, boy, that song is about, especially on that third verse where it's like, you know, saying you deserve a pat on the back, you know, it's just like, I've never given myself a pat on the back. And I wanted to take that song to like, as an opportunity to give myself the much needed, you know, pat on the back in compassion. Inspired by that song, if you saw like, if you were, if instead of me, your younger self was sitting in front of you, this is a therapy exercise. Instead of me, if your younger self was sitting in front of you right now, like sitting in this seat, what does he need to hear?

If You Could Talk To Your Younger Self Now, What Do You Need To Hear? (48:28)

No advice, but what does he need to hear? What does he need to hear? He needs to hear that you're okay, you're safe. And I got you. That's what he needs to hear. And what do you think he'd say back? Probably I don't need your help. Yeah. It's really interesting how like what I think all of us need from ourselves is just more compassion and more grace. And the younger version of me needs that so bad, needed that so bad, I didn't get it. And he didn't know how to receive that help and receive that compassion. And I don't know if you know, if I was talking to him and he rejected the help and compassion, I would just keep trying. Because I know that's what he really needs. He just wants to feel safe, like he belongs, like it's going to be okay. Like he's allowed to make mistakes. You know, that's the other thing. Once again, being a perfectionist, it's like, it really is like hindering when it comes to everything, like accepting help. Because once again, help is coded as criticism as a perfectionist, feeling good about anything you've done because you could have always done better. So you didn't quite nail your standard of perfection. And I just think like that's what I'm trying to get to now is like giving myself more grace. And I talk about it on tunnel vision, where I say, I want to stop thinking that I got to go through hell to get the credit I desperately need to give to myself. You know, you can just do this an easier way. It's also hard being a high performer who gives grace to themselves. Because that's the hard part, right? It's like, I want to perform at the best, but I know I need to be nice to myself, but I can't be too nice because I'm too nice to myself, then I can't perform at the best. And it's like this fight inside of you. Yeah, I think it comes down to kind of what you were saying earlier, where it's like, if your toolkit is only shame and like dark motivation, then you're just going to use that and it's not sustainable. I think for me, the light motivation is like, you know, I love what I'm doing. You know, when I'm on stage, I love the fans. I love performing. And as long as I did my best, I have to be okay with that. Yeah, you know, I can say, okay, you know, I know I can do better than that. But tonight, I did my best. And it's easier said than done. Like I'm working on that, but I think that's the place to start is just knowing like, did you do your best with the resources that you had and to think that you were supposed to just be this all knowing entity? Yeah, it's like that's arrogance, you know, but that's why I would beat myself up a lot is like, how did you not know? You know, but it's like, you're allowed to not know everything. That's powerful. Yeah, that's powerful actually to look back and think, I wouldn't have done anything better. I'm glad that. Yeah, I had to just go through that. And that's who I was back that's what I was about. Those were like, I based my decisions in the past off of what I knew back then. And what felt true to me back then, what felt authentic. And with the reservoir of knowledge I had back then, that's what I based my decisions off of. Obviously now, seven years later, 10 whatever it is, I would make different decisions. But it's like, I can't be mad at 23 or me that he didn't know what 30 year old me is. Yeah, it's so hard for me to not want to beat him up. Like, you're such an idiot. All you had to do was like, read this one book and you would have even been better off. You know, sometimes it feels like the answer was right there. But that's what it is, right?

We Don't See People As A Story, We See Them As A Page (52:07)

Like, we have this habit as humans where we judge ourselves off of one conversation, one event, one performance, one song, one meeting. And what's really interesting thing is about that is that we then project that onto other people where we judge them on one song, one moment, one interaction, rather than looking at someone as this, right, story of a human. And it's, it's fascinating to me that you would never ever pick up a book and read one page and judge the whole book. No one really does that. Right. You would read some of the book at least, but it's like, with ourselves and without this, we don't see them as a story. We see them as a page. Yeah, that's so true. It's so brutal though. It's so brutal. It's so brutal. I do it to myself. And I think I think in the world of social media too, you're not allowed to make mistakes. Your one mistake is the book. That just tells me everything I need to know about you and how you treat yourself. Because I know like I tend to be, and this is like not a great thing, a very judgmental person. And I justify it by saying, relax, I judge myself too. It's like, that's not good though. Yeah. You know, and it's, but I do what you said. I look at one event and be like, you don't deserve anything because of that one combo or that one tweet or that one. Yeah, not realizing that at that point that was where that person was. Right. Right. And actually, we open people up to change, including ourselves when we recognize that our capacity for change can increase. Right. If you look back at an event, like you're saying, and you're like, I actually appreciate that's what I knew then. I didn't do something I was proud of, but that's all I knew then. Yeah. Now that I think there's a famous Maya Angelou quote where she says that, now that I know better, I do better. Right. And the idea of if you don't accept that, that's possible for you and others, that's what actually keeps you in prison because you keep saying, no, no, no, that's who you are. Right. That event 10 years ago is who you are. And that's who you will ever be. So tough. That's so true. It's tough. But I mean, in social media, you're not allowed to change your mind. That also keeps people, especially celebrities and people in the public eye, like into this prison where it's like, no, no, no, what you said you believed, what you said 10 days ago, 10 years ago, you better still believe that or you're fake. And it's crazy because you're allowed to change your mind and not only are you allowed to change your mind, you're supposed to change your mind, you're supposed to now have a new belief system. It's not like Rick Rubin talked about it with you. And I thought it was so spot on. It's like, if you still have the same beliefs you did 20 years ago upon learning new things and you're not growing, but I think that's why you got to remove yourself from social media and what the world in the mob of the internet, stop trying to reconcile with them, reconcile with yourself and give yourself the permission to change your mind. Yeah. Yeah. I've what something you think that you have changed your mind on from, let's say, like, maybe 10 years ago, or maybe if you need to go back longer, 20 years ago, like, I'll share one of mine. Mine was when I was young, I didn't, because I grew up in this mindset, I believed that people who had money had to do something dodgy to get money. Because that's the language that I was raised in. Like, we always heard that like, oh yeah, but he doesn't pay his taxes. If I saw a nice car and I'd be like, my family would be like, oh yeah, yeah, but they always do that dodgy business on the side. And so in my head, anyone who had money must be doing something wrong to have money. And that not only did that limit me from appreciating others or admiring or learning from those people, it blocked me from thinking that was good for me and possible for me. Because you would have had to do dodgy stuff and I thought it was a good person. So I don't, I'm not going to do anything. I would never do anything bad. So you'll never get money. So you know, you're money. Yeah, exactly. And then you all of a sudden start realizing where like, you need to meet. And this is why I think, this is why I love the podcast, because I want to show people or show sides of people or let people show sides of themselves where people can go, oh, that is possible. I can be a rapper and go to therapy. Like, I can be, you know, I can be someone who makes songs about this, this, this and work on myself.

The Toxic "I'm Always Right" Mindset (56:31)

Like that is, there is an and as opposed to like this, you know, fine. Yeah, exactly. So for me, that was a big one for me of recognizing that you can make money with integrity. You could use it in service. You could, it could be used proactively for purpose. And that was a massive limiting belief and negative belief. I had what was something for you that you that you changed your mind on. I think the big thing for me was thinking that I was always right. Oh, that's a good one. That's the biggest one for me. Because I was operating in this place once again of omnipotence, just that I knew everything. Everything I did was right. Every decision I've ever made was right. Because look at my life, clearly everything I've ever done was right. And everything I say is right. Everything I know. So I got to a place now where I'm so much more curious and I'm so much more humble in the sense of like, I'm open to being wrong. Because it's like, and I believe what I believe, but I'm open to changing my mind. I'm open to someone else telling me their beliefs and me being open-minded and curious about it. I'm open to not always being right. And I think that is a much better starting place. And that's it's really interesting because everything we're saying is basically that paradox of like, we were saying, you want to be ambitious, but you got to have grace for yourself. You want to be, you want to know your values, but you want to be open to learning more and changing them. And it's almost like everything is this. And I think that's where we struggled the most because whether it was parenting, whether it was school, whether it was our background, we were always told that there was one right answer. Right. Right. Like you have to get it in the back of the book. And it's in the back. Yeah. And it's like there's one right answer that everyone has to get to. And if you're one mark off the answer, then it's the wrong answer. And the truth is that life is so variegated. It is so great. It is, as you just said, even when you were talking earlier, you were like, there are so many layers to this. Yeah. So it's like one answer is, material stuff doesn't make you happy. Right. But it's like when you broke down the layers of like, actually, why did my parents divorce make me unhappy? It's because this, and so like, everything is so layered. But I feel like we haven't, I don't know if our brain, our brain almost needs not an app, but our brain needs the ability to be able to understand how everything is so multi-layered.

Evolving As An Artist And Handling Ego

How To Be More Flexible & Open (58:55)

Yeah. But we're so it's so much easier to just put someone in a box and go, that's what I'm judging. And just be more flexible. Yeah. And I think atomic habits talks about like keeping your identity small. And I thought it was so genius talks about, you know, there's athletes who, their identity is I'm an athlete, I'm a point guard. And what happens when you're not playing basketball anymore though. And they have this identity crisis and sometimes it gets really, you know, severe. And he talks about how like instead of saying I'm an athlete, how about saying, I'm a hard worker who, you know, works well with teams and did it. And so that you can still get, you can still apply what your strengths are from being an athlete into other aspects of your life after being an athlete is done. And I thought that was so powerful because it's so easy to get tied up into I'm a rapper or I'm a this or I'm a that and you start trying to like, do things based off of the perception of yourself. And I just think being more flexible, you know, and not being so rigid on who you are and just, you know, be open. What's something that you were very, I guess, inflexible about, unflexible about and now that you've become more flexible about in your identity. I think being a man and being what I thought that means like being start not showing any emotion, not showing like anything is affecting me. Not receiving help doing it myself. All these things like that to me is the most valuable thing that I'm now flexible on is because I've learned that there's strength and vulnerability and there's strength in being honest and there's strength in collaboration, you know, learning from a positive male role model who's older than you and just can give you, you know, new wisdom, new knowledge. It's like there's strength in collaboration. I think we've talked about it in therapy was this documentary that my therapist was talking about like, and he was talking about how like alpha males who lead by dominance via like fear are often like exiled or killed and the ones who lead through collaboration and cohesion like exhibit peace and like people love them. And it's so funny because I think growing up like we would idolize those male figures who were the like just dominant, you know, just invoke fear and all these things. And I'm just trying to help myself. And I'm also trying to help my fans. And then on a real, real specific level, I'm trying to be a lighthouse for young men that can look at me and say, you know what, I don't have to have it all figured out because he doesn't. And if he's allowed to make mistakes, I'm allowed to make mistakes. I'm trying to get men and people to just be nicer to themselves, have more compassion, have more grace. I love what you were saying about leaders because I feel like there is that perception that leaders have to be stoic and strong and cold. Yeah. And it was really interesting to me because I'm still close with my monk teachers and like, they're the kind of people that like would come and sit in the back on the floor of a class and listen to a young monk give a talk. Yeah. And that was considered humility and the strength of a leader was like they weren't enforcing their authority. Right. Like they would always say like, a real leader doesn't, I would always hear them say this like a real leader doesn't demand respect, they command it. Right. It's just, it's natural for them. They don't have to walk into the room and all eyes are on me. They don't have to do something big to gain attention. They actually would come on and put the spotlight on you. Right. But it's interesting because that isn't our general belief around leaders. We almost want to be pushed around and moved around to think someone's powerful. Right. It's almost like if someone's kind and gracious, you kind of think of them as like a soft, soft and a pushover. Yeah. And so I think there's so much rewiring that almost needs to go on into what is healthy leadership or? I know and I'm not like the epitome of, you know, where neither of mine. Neither of mine. But it's like, I agree. I think there's a rewiring that has to happen on what it means to be a man. And I think men need to also stop looking for what it means to be a man from women. And women need to stop even caring what men say when it comes to what does it mean to be a woman? We don't know each other's experiences, you know, men need more male collaboration, positive male collaboration, positive role models. And I think it's what you said earlier, like knowing that we're wrong, if we are sitting with someone to learn about them, that you go into it going, I probably don't know what you're going through right now. Right. And I'm probably wrong, right, as opposed to like, yeah, I already know I've got you figured out like all men are like this, all women are like this or whatever it may be, which is kind of how we live in the world. What does anything do you sleep well? What keeps you up at night?

On Turning 30 Years Old (01:04:04)

I sleep well now I got an aura ring. Oh, nice. Yeah. I like the aura. Yeah. I'm a, I don't know, I'm 30 now. I'm trying to like being fed by, you know, midnight. Dude, you're getting, I'm 36 this year and I've been, I sleep at like 9 30 p.m. 10 p.m. Yeah, that's beautiful. Yeah, it's so good. I'm going to sleep at like 9 50, getting like eight hours of sleep. I feel like waking up going on walks. I'm like, who am I? This is crazy. How does it feel to have hit 30 and 31 soon? If like even Santiago, this feels like my debut album, because it just feels like this is a version of myself that has not been shown to the world. And I still feel as young as I ever felt, but I just feel like I know myself more. I'm more comfortable with myself. I'm living in more of my truth and authenticity. And I'm excited. Like I just feel, I feel blessed to make it out of my 20s alive, you know, without any like drug problems or anything. Because looking back, I'm like, I can see, you know, reasons for numbing the pain, you know, but yeah, I'm excited. I also love the, you know, I was watching you. I'm always following everything you're up to. And I love the way you talk to the fans when you're on stage and when you post from it.

Collaborating With Up-and-coming Artists (01:05:16)

But also, how you've been encouraging so many young artists to like jump on tracks and like be a part of the music through TikTok and everything else. And like, I think that's so dope man. Because I just, I think there was, I think there was one when you do it Caitlyn, right? Like, yeah. And it was just like, I just found that whole approach to be so true to how you came up. And what you do and like, being able to post on how does that feel to be able to now like, it's incredible. I feel like, I've said it before to like my friends and people like, you don't really feel the power of your platform or the power of your money until you give it away and see how it affects someone who maybe doesn't have that. It sort of like snaps you out of it for a second and snaps you into really what you've built. But yeah, I mean, for me, like the, you know, the approach on TikTok and putting Caitlyn on the song, it's like, it's a no brainer. Like, and that's where like, I'm glad I don't have an ego in that sense. And that field, it's like, if I'm putting up a song and someone is affected by it enough to want to do their own version and people love it. And I think it sounds good. Why would I not just like make that a thing? Just like, this is the entertainment business. And it's like, meaning we're in the business of people enjoying what you're doing. This is a cheat code. They've already said that they enjoy it. Just give it to them. It's like, yeah, I thought it was dope. I love that. Thank you. Yeah, she's great. Very incredible. Yeah, very talented. Where you just mentioned the ego, where does the ego still block you sometimes?

Where Does Your Ego Block You? (01:06:49)

Like you were like, that's somewhere where I don't have an ego. Where is somewhere? How would you describe the ego? It's a great question. Because then I could answer. Yeah, yeah, it's a great, it's a great question. That's why I want to give you a very thoughtful answer. I would say that the ego is any moment in which you create a false sense of security. So you're creating a false sense of being safe, as opposed to just with an arrogant blah, blah, blah, that's because those are all ultimately, it's a false self-defense mechanism. Yeah. So like, for example, with my wife, it's like, if my wife tells me something that I know is blatantly true, my ego will even construct something where I'm like, oh, yeah, but this happened before and this thing. And it's like, I'm constructing a true, what I'm saying is true, it's factual, but I'm still using it just to defend my ego. Yeah, I'm scared of just saying like, you know, that you're wrong. Yeah. Oh, I do that all the time. Yeah. Yeah. So the wrong parts to it, but like, yeah, where do you create a false sense of safety in your life or a false sense of security? I think trying to constantly save my mom emotionally and take on my family's emotions as my responsibility, because without me doing that, they're not safe, is like a really big crux of like my stress, you know, and it's not on them. It's on me. And it's really me not like I'm not allowing my mom to pull herself out of the hole unless I go down there with her. But that's really the opposite of empowering. It's like, I need to, I need to let go, but letting go so scary because if I feel like she's drowning, or if I feel like my brother's drowning, or my sister, or whoever I love is drowning. And I'm watching them drown, how am I supposed to not go in and save them? But the reality is sometimes they're just flapping their arms and their feet are on the ground. And it just looked like they were drowning, you know, but dude, that is a great onset. Was it? That is a great onset. No, because you just, there was another definition is as, when you asked me that question that gave to my mind, it's, and whatever anyone's belief in God is, when I say the word God is like God universe, whatever you personally choose, but like, the ego is when you choose to play God instead of play your part for God. Wow. Okay. So that was a good answer. And that's why it's a great answer. Yeah. Because that is exactly what's happening. It's like, you're, you're saying it's all on me. Right. And you're trying to be the universe. The Almighty, the omnipotent, you use the word at the beginning. Like that's a God-like word, right? Like, well, you're like, everything rests and depends on me, which means if I do it, I'm going to save it. And if I'm not there, it's going to fall apart. Right. And that's ego, because like you just rightly said, like, not only you can love someone and let them still grow by themselves and still be there for them, but you can't grow for them. Right. But when you want to grow for someone instead of grow with them or help them grow. Yeah. And I think that that level of like omnipotence and that level of control also influences like lack of confidence, because by me being like, let me handle it really says, oh, so you think that if I handle it, you know, me being my mom, like, oh, you think if I handle it, and don't let you help me, Russ, that like, I can't do it, you know, and I'm just like, yeah, kind of, you know, but I need to, it's just really, it's coming back to that place of my role and my identity. I always played the role of helping and being responsible emotionally for people and saving them and fixing things. And so, it's just second nature. I get very hypervigilant when I when someone around me is upset, because if you're upset, it's my fault is what is what it gets like coded as. And I'm trying to unlearn that, but that's tough, because like I said, I feel, or when I was a kid, the stakes seemed so high. It felt like it was life or death if I don't help, what if someone's self-harm, etc. But now, when someone's upset, I still can't let go and still be there for them, but not feel like I have to go down into the hole with them, because I'm still operating from that child like role, and I'm just working on understanding that like, they're okay, they're going to be okay, like, you know, no one's saying like, cut them off and don't talk to anyone. But it's like, you don't need to go down into the hole with them. Yeah, that's beautiful. And man, the album Santiago is inspired by Paulo Coeler's Alchemist, which is a legend.

The Inspiration Behind The Album SANTIAGO (01:11:39)

If you haven't heard of, I mean, you have to have heard of this book, everyone's listening. If you haven't, it's a legendary book by a legendary author. When did you first come across the book and why did you feel like you wanted to bring music into the book? So, Boogie is my best friend, put that book in my hand when I was probably 1718. I met him last time. Did you? Yeah. Growing with you. That's a great dude. It's incredible. So, he put like that book in my hand, for sure, yeah. Napoleon Hill in my hand, you know, and crazy books to read at that age. And I was instantly like, it became like a Bible for me, you know? And there was just so many parallels that I found. And I just, I've like opened it back up, or, you know, a few times over the years. But for whatever reason, two years ago, summer of 2021, I decided to reread it. And you know how you can like read a book that you've already read, but you read it at a different time in your life and all of a sudden, different things stick out and it resonates deeper. And so, it just felt, it just spoke to me so deeply, than even before. And I was like, man, I want to make a whole album that gives like, that parallels the book with my story. But what ended up happening was, it was hard for me to just tell my story and not make an album about the alchemist. And so, that's why I ended up saying it was loosely inspired by the alchemist, because at the inception, it was truly like, it felt like I couldn't write about my life. I had to write about Santiago's. But then, Paolo Coelho says something in, and I think the foreword, where he says, Santiago is my journey, but it's your journey, because one man's journey is everyone's journey. And that was the unlock for me and the permission for me to like, tell my story. And there is like parallels within the alchemist and my natural story, but it's not a complete side by side thing. It's just, it was a lighthouse for me, you know, the wind and oasis. It was things that I related to, but I still had my own input on. But yeah, complete framework and lighthouse. And he's a genius. Yeah, it's a beautiful album. And what did he say? Yeah, he likes it. So it's like, that to me was like, this is insane. That's beautiful. What a beautiful homage to like, you know, one of the great, right? I was nervous, because I'm like, it was so, so insane. I start making this album summer, 2021. He doesn't follow me on Twitter randomly. Like right when I start to make it, he follows me on Twitter. You know, he follows like 160 people. And I was like, what are the odds that like while I'm making this, but you know, if you read the alchemist, the signs and all these things, I'm like, all right, clearly, I'm supposed to be reading this or unless he's got the room bug, like, I don't know what's going on. But I, so I told right when he followed me, I told him, I was like, yo, I'm actually making an album about like loosely inspired by the alchemist. And he was like, that's so great. Keep me posted. And he would like check in periodically, like, yo, how's it coming? And I wasn't following me anymore. I don't think it's personal. I love it. You just, you took Santiago down a different part. Yeah. Yeah. No, that's beautiful, man. I love that. I love that. If there's one song, Russ, you've been amazing. This has been such a, it's always great having you here. I've got two questions for you. One is, is there anything I haven't asked you that you want to talk about? Because you're a friend and I have to honor you with that question. Is there anything we haven't dove into that? You're like, yeah, I want to talk about this. Or even if it's quieter and you're like, it's on my heart right now, I need to say it. The floor is yours. No, I think, honestly, I think we touched on everything. Yeah. And I'm really, really happy without this one. I appreciate you having me for a, of course, man. I appreciate you. I was looking, you can come back on whenever you want. Like this is like, it's, it's, I love conversations where they really are just like a back and forth. And like, that's how I feel with you. I'm just like, we can just talk about stuff and figure stuff out and not know the answer. And yeah, you know, but if there's one, I'm going to say my one.

Promotion Of Latest Album, Santiago

What SANTIAGO Track Should You Go Stream Now? (01:15:30)

You can say yours. What is the one track you want everyone to go stream after listening to this episode? Which one would you recommend? I love you, boy. I was going to say the same one. Yeah. I think it's so aligned with today's conversation. But the other ones that I recommend too, that we discussed today, fraud, really powerful, oasis, highly recommend to as well. And then of course, go listen to the whole album Russ, you've been amazing to have back on. Thank you. I appreciate you so much as a, as a human, as a artist, I, I don't know anyone who's made mental health and music seem that cool as you have, which I love because it's, it's my life's work, but seeing you do it in your way is so empowering. And I think there are a whole group of listeners that are going to come up and just have different viewpoints because of you. So I hope so, man. Yeah. No, it's happened already. It's happening. It's happening. Yeah. But thank you, man. I appreciate you being on all my. Thank you. And listen, it's a testament to like the reason why I always want to come back here is because the energy you have in like the barriers down vibe you have where there's no judgment and the depth you have, it was just such a no brainer for me to like, I always got to go back and sit with him because it's just such a like, even the energy in this room, it's just so curious and like safe, you know, so you've a testament to you. Thank you for saying that, man. I appreciate it. Anytime. Yeah. Anytime. And everyone who's been listening and watching, wherever you are, whether you're walking your dog, whether you're cooking, whether you're driving to and from work or whether you're at the gym, make sure you tag me and Russ in all your posts on TikTok on Instagram. Let us know what resonated with you, what stuck out to you on Twitter on threads. I love seeing the little clips. I love seeing how you're enjoying the podcast. It means the world to me. I know mean a lot to Russ and tag us when you're streaming as well. Santiago, it's out right now. Thank you so much, everyone. If you love this episode, you'll love my interview with Will Smith on owning your truth and unlocking the power of manifestation. Anybody who hasn't spoken to their parents or their brother, call them right now. Don't think you're going to have a chance to call them tomorrow or next week. That opportunity with my father changed every relationship in my life.

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