Thursday, 13 August 2009

I Just Wanna Be Successful.....

I’m sorry guys, I haven’t blogged since Monday. You’re all aware I despise excuses but I genuinely couldn’t. Yesterday I had a job interview and I spent a lot of Tuesday prepping for it. Anyhow I’m back now! So here it goes.

‘I don’t want the glow, I want the glory’
Dwayne Carter

My favourite Hip-Hop song of twenty oh nine has to be Drake’s ‘Successful’. The moment I heard the first chord of the song, I fell in love with it. The beat’s haunting, the hunger behind the lyrics is enthralling and the song is layered with contradictions. The song is simultaneously ironic, tragic and inspiring. But that’s why I love the song so much, because just like many others who love this song, I get it.

My only major problem with the song is the crux of the chorus. Apparently acquiring ‘money, cars, clothes, hoes’ equates success. Bat shit. Anyone that truly believes the acquirement of money, cars, clothes and hoes, signifies success or fulfilment is an idiot.

I’ve said this on numerous occasions but I truly believe that the measure of success must never be relative to how much wealth a person acquires whilst they’re on earth. Instead success should be measured by how much a person invests in helping those that need it. In my opinion real success means sacrifice and putting others first. Having material things doesn’t mean you’re a success. It just means you’re either….

a) Wealthy
b) Rich
c) Neither of the above, but up to your eyeballs in debt trying to project to the world you’re a or b.

Wealth and success are distinct entities and the possession of one does not necessarily mean you have the other. Society’s greatest successes aren’t the celebrities whose images we’re bombarded with on a daily basis. The real pictures of success are the silent heroes, who labour quietly and are often poorly paid and rarely acknowledged. The grandmothers who step in and raise their grandchildren rather than see them in foster care. That nurse who reassured you before your operation. Schoolteachers who with encouraging words prevent a child’s future from being marred by tragedy to one crowned with achievement.

In light of my redefinition of success if we examine the content of the song carefully, what the Drake song should say is…..

‘Money, cars, clothes hoes….I just wanna be, I just wanna be, accepted’.

Because that’s what the song is really about: the human need for acceptance. It’s the need for acceptance that drives many in their journey towards worldly success.

On some level we have all imbibed the perverse messages about success that the media, society and some of our parents taught us. Our vision is so tainted and blurred, that we celebrate people with ‘success’ without even questioning whether they acquired their money ethically or have any intention of making a difference with their spoils.

In fact in this day and age, it’s not really about concrete success but being perceived as successful. Sub-prime mortgages, wardrobes full of clothes bought on credit/store cards, driveways of McMansion's filled with SUV’s bought on hired purchase all part of doing all we can, so people view us as a success. Despite the lessons that could have been learned from the credit crunch, many of us are still on a futile hustle. Ever striving to make it and buy that status symbol which will prove to the world that we have indeed arrived.

I’m not anti-ambition I know the positive impact that entrepreneurship and wealth creation has on communities. I don’t mind people wanting nice things and being driven, directed and hard working in order to get them. I’m simply anti-materialism and the message that material things validate a person’s existence.

This isn’t a blog entry written from the moral high ground. I’m just as infected. At 21 I vowed to own a Birkin. Yet considering the fact I’m only here because my parents were one of the fortunate children to survive the brutal Biafran Civil war, you’d think I’d pour my energy into genocide prevention. But I don’t. I shop instead.

So when ‘Successful’ popped up on my play list this morning, it sparked a thought process. I began to think about the false messages that people have imbibed and led them down roads that have proven hazardous to their well being.

Ironically the things we’re told give us value bring us misery rather than happiness (didn’t the late great BIG say mo’ money, mo’ problems?) yet since we’re too afraid to question the status quo, things are unlikely to change.

So what’s the point of this entry?

Since my ‘turning 22 existential crisis’, I’m on this journey where I attempt to purge myself of the various falsehoods that I once accepted as gospel. So I’m thinking that maybe it’s time we begin to question and actively challenge what we’ve been told is success, beauty and happiness. And after we’ve cleansed our minds of jacked up ideals, we carve our own paths and make our dreams a reality. Our way.

Peace, Love and Persistence



  1. thought provoking stuff

  2. ^^I agree
    That was a good read.

  3. It's funny: those who exploit the accepted definition of success for their own gain (bankers, retailers etc.) are themselves ensnared in the same mental trap. No one wins...

    All the best with that job!

  4. Aww, Ama, that was a really good one :) x

  5. I totally agree,
    I stop litening to those types of songs years ago, and I would advise others to do the same.
    The sad thing about it is people of this day and age believe that havin does things makes them successful.