Back to Philly Hip-Hop. Junior year of Temple I was taking a lot of classes in music business and marketing. I was managing (or trying to) another Philly Hip-Hop artist: Bey. I met Bey through Brady, who had recently DJ’d a few shows for him. I was running off my summer high, going back and forth between pursuing rapping or supporting my friends who were good at it (this seems like my Ultimate dilemma, right?). Looking to get a grasp on the business side of things, I decided to put my pursuits behind myself and focus on supporting another extremely talented friend. I still attended Freestyle Fridays religiously of course, and eventually joined Ghost Ghang.
So through sophomore and junior year I was kissing ass to help get my homie Bey a few shows here and there. I realized that kissing ass was not my strong suit. But drifting (among cliques) was something I was pretty good at. I always felt like I needed to surround myself with different people often. Maybe because I didn’t fit in one exact social circle growing up. So my role as a manager became much more organic. Or as Bey would call it, “Shakin’ hands + kissin’ babies.” I would take Bey around wherever I drifted; introducing him to my various acquaintances. Instead of forcing his music on others like a pretentious promoter, I would give him to the people. Of course, I’d mention he was a rapper, or he would too. But it was all about making friends, not pushing mixtapes.
My role as a manager came to an unofficial end when I went to study abroad in Japan in January of 2012. Yet there were other things going on as well. Since I was commuting to campus everyday, I found myself hanging out more with The Hungry Ghosts than with Bey. Bey was no longer a college student, and spent most of his time at his job downtown. He couldn’t just come up to Temple on a whim just to freestyle. In addition to this, I realized that even though we have so much in common, Bey just isn’t me. He has his own style and raps from his experiences, which I still love to this day. I was living vicariously through him instead of blazing my own trail. I had to get out of there and let my own voice be heard.
I was preparing for a seven-month Journey to the Far East. It seemed like the perfect time to get my voice out there. Omar was (and always has been) giving me crazy support. He was one of the few emcees in the cypher who would stop everything and say, “Quasar, rap. Now.” He saw something in me, before I thought there was anything there. I took my book of rhymes and a microphone to Tokyo; determined to do my first live show ever and make a name for myself in the Japanese Hip-Hop scene.
It’s amazing what happens when you fully embrace Horace’s idea of carpe diem. It’s amazing what happens when you know exactly what you want to do in Life. Things fall into place, like magic. Random coincidences become meaningful occurrences. Everything makes sense. That was my study abroad life in 2012. There’s something about knowing that it will all end, that I would one day leave Japan and probably never come back, that changed the way I lived my life.
*More of this story next Tuesday!