I recently read a book I didn’t know existed—Jay-Z: Made in America by Michael Eric Dyson. Even though I was in my twenties and loved rap music, I didn’t listen to it in the 90s. So I had little background on Jay-Z and the coming up of his success. I knew little about Tupac, Biggie, Wu-Tang Clan, or other heavyweights during that era. So when the argument about who is the greatest rapper of all time, my only frame of reference is the rappers from the 80s: Rakim, KRS-1, LL Cool J, etc. That’s all I knew.
But after reading this book, I got a new perspective on how Jay-Z became the first and only billionaire rapper in history. This book broke down his poetic lyrics and mapped out his gradual success in music and in many other entities he established as he diversified his business ventures. He was smart enough to know that just making records was not enough. And some ventures are not just for making money but also to ignite a culture through socially conscious endeavors. The book also covered how Jay-Z penetrated political systems with his influence, trying to make a difference in the lives of many.
On August 30th, I released an EP titled Invisible, which is the soundtrack for my novel, My Invisible Father. The EP contains six songs. Each song has a theme coordinated with characters or scenes from the book. When I first thought to include this music with the book, I was thinking about how I could use it to complement speaking engagements with middle and high school students. Talk about a main or minor character and then play the song highlighting that character’s role in the story. And talk about the plot and then play a song that emphasizes that part of the book.
To me, this would be an effective tool to hook the attention of young people by employing music with hard-hitting beats and life-changing lyrics. And once hooked by the music, they may be more inclined to want to read the book and explore the stories within the plot.
This is my version of trying to diversify my business. Not on the scale of a billion-dollar enterprise, but still using culturally conscious words, songs, and music to touch the lives and hearts of young people. To feed book lovers something different and help those who don’t like reading feel excited about reading.
Side note: The picture used for this blog is the album cover for the music EP Invisible. It is a tape cassette with the word Invisible transposed underneath the clear cassette. The purpose behind this is that tape cassettes have become all but extinct in our world today, invisible to the eyes of today’s generation. And this coordinates with the book title and premise of invisible fathers.