Grown Past You. . .

Life is about change. 

Years ago, I left a company that gave me security and started to work for myself again. Again. I forgot I’m aging. I forgot how daring I used to be and the older I get, I like security. Yet my artistic side needs the freedom. I forgot how vulnerable we become when we go balls-to-the-wall and rely on either connections or our drive to simply progress. I used a combination of both and easily landed a handful of clients that would make my newly found marketing company profitable.

This transition also gave me a chance to reflect on my life and my purpose. I lost track of things. Of me. I forgot I enjoyed creating magic. I lost myself and forgot my purpose as I drove to an office every day and worked 60+ hours a week. Again, I forgot my goals and the essence of my existence. I forgot my identity.

When I moved from New York I lost something special–my ability to network with artists who believed in themselves and wanted to create art and collaborate, simply for the sake of creating art and respecting each other’s art while expecting merely recognition and gratitude in the fact that you are with someone of like-minds and created something magical and unique. I was determined to get back in touch with my artistry. Not only that, but I told myself that I wanted to collaborate with other artists.

I considered a few of my dedicated artist friends who are well-versed in their particular industry and decided that there were really two individuals that always inspired me in all of the items they created–Marlon Saunders and O’Neal Wyche.

Both come from different industries than I, yet they equally inspire me with their drive and unique approach. Above all, we have history. Not working together, but rather as Black men, living in NYC, creating our art while understanding and appreciating all artistic genres. I was the writer, the author, the spoken word artist with a marketing background–my talent (I’ve always felt) was being able to pull people together, understand everyone’s talents and create something remarkable while showcasing everyone. That’s the benefit of having a marketing background. You understand everyone’s skillsets and egos and you  learn how to marry them together.

Cage Dress by O'Neal Wyche
Cage Dress sketch by O’Neal Wyche

And as a singer, songwriter and vocal coach, Marlon understands the preciseness of music and its development and the simplicity of words. He also understands what appeals to an audience. O’Neal, on the other hand, a costume designer, understands precision as well yet the ability to manipulate reality in such a way that it becomes something wearable.

My initial idea was to create a storyline filled with race, class, and gender symbolism. But that evolved into something so much greater and something I wasn’t truly expecting. After I wrote the spoken word poem “Grown Past You”, I read it to and passed a written copy to Marlon–this is how we wanted it to work. I would write something, Marlon would become inspired and create music and secure vocals; then we would give the completed track to O’Neal,

Cage Dress final by O'Neal Wyche
Cage Dress final by O’Neal Wyche

who too, would be inspired and create costumes. As such, based on his costumes and the track, I would oversee the creative direction of the video.

It was a chain reaction of inspiration! It was fluid. Art is suppose to be that way. If it’s not fluid, then it comes across as contrived and people can sense that from afar.

I’ve never wanted to work with others on projects until recently. But you have to be strategic with whom you decide to work–a great idea can easily become a distraction. And not everyone should be privileged to go on artistic journeys with you. Life is like that–some people get left behind who don’t share the same idea or passion.

We ended up creating an experimental fashion/music video “Grown Past You” (below) that, in my opinion, shows the vulnerability of a female when attempting to escape an abusive (mental or physical) relationship. The written piece wasn’t necessarily about me. But after its completion, that ounce of vulnerability shined through and reflected the experiences I went through during my work transition. We have to open ourselves up for new opportunities, new chances. We have to escape, what we feel are bad situations; or situations that hold us back from what we truly want to achieve. What was once loved, probably was never loved–simply tolerated. We humans must understand that in order to flourish.

About Stephen Earley Jordan II

Author of "Beyond Bougie", "Cold, Black, and Hungry" and many other books.
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1 Response to Grown Past You. . .

  1. Georgie says:

    Hi, I am new to reading your work but already know you are a talented and stellar writer. Thank you for allowing me to tweet your post. I barely began twitter when I deactivated my twitter account yesterday due to the Elon Musk ownership, but as I did so I looked at your collaboration again and felt the urge to tell you how important I feel it is. I am honored to have encountered your poet voice… your prose… your love of words… your this.

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