"Why should artists even seek major label deals ? they are completely outdated & obsolete . artists are sold the dream that talent can secure superstardom , but it becomes evident that labels only sign bands nowdays because of the band’s existing fanbase & record sales , or because they dig the artist’s look & want to cash in . they don’t want to develop the art . they don’t want the artist to express his/herself entirely . they just want the artist to comply with what will get the company a big monetary return . they sign you for millions , pimp you for pennies , then drop you a year later when the music they made you record & release is no longer relevant . you’re left on the streets unsigned & irrelevant & ready to infect the world with the music you’ve always wanted to make , but no one will take a chance on you due to your previous material . meanwhile , the label has already put white out over your signature on the slave deal & replaced it with a younger version of you . cold game , ain’t it ?"
Above is one of my favorite parts of it. And in case the letter gets lost, here it is for your reading pleasure.. from 2008! Go support J*Davey
this is intended for all of you lowly puppets who sit in your big offices in big buildings that will soon be out of business & thus, forced to hold vacant memories of an industry that once was . this is for all of the big wigs in suits & ties who sit at the head of the conference room table with creative opinions as empty as the “music” they force down the throats of the now bored & uninspired creative consumers . this is for all the idle assistants who only work hard enough to get their names on the grammy party lists, or whose only existence remains obsolete if he/she can’t get into the hot new band’s hollywood show debut . this is for the borderline retarded a&r guy who should in fact abandon his dreams of changing the failing record industry to become a highly paid talent scout at a modeling agency . this is definitely for all the marketing low lives who fail to avidly push great talent because the world’s fave reality slut randomly decided one day while botoxing her armpits that she wants to be a rockstar .
this open letter is for all of you .
come feast your eyes upon the truth behind your insolence for 5 minutes , if you even have your job for that much longer.
your blatant lack of respect & worship for the oldest & dearest artform has brought a once thriving & artistic industry to a grinding halt . your willingness to believe that the world wide web has killed the consumers’ thirst for new & exciting talent is wildly ignorant & safe . you would like to feed into this stupidity because you are too lazy to stand behind substance ; you’d rather take the low & easy road than take the time to nurture true talent . you’d rather tirelessly feed us the same carbon copied , lip synching , sex dripping , faux punk “i got my entire outfit from hot topic” rocker , buffoonishly ghetto “are they even speaking english?” hip hop , “same old same” sound from song to song type image & force us to believe that this is all the world’s artists have to offer . you’d rather watch your company stocks & yearly record sales severely plummet than take strong initiative to fix the current problem . you’d rather see hundreds of employees laid off & out of work during the holidays because you’re too afraid to stand up for something new & different . you’re content with creating a 1-hit wonder society , where any idiot with anything shockingly catchy can enjoy a sorry 15 minutes of fame & a future segment on vh1’s “biggest 1-hit wonders of 08” extravaganza .
where is the new generation of legends ?
beyonce & alicia keys are old shoe ins . r kelly , sure , but his personal dramas easily overshadow his genius . radiohead & outkast comes to mind , & then i draw a big blank .
the latest thrill in music has been an over abundance of great dancers with mediocre voices , albums , singles , concert ticket sales , etc . thank god the internet allows every joe blow in the universe a free forum to overexpose every little thing , especially mediocre celebrities . thank god for online music forums , such as myspace . artists are able to directly connect with the people & expose themselves & their art to everyone everywhere at the click of a button . myspace proves that music can no longer fit into a box . long gone are the days of urban vs pop vs alternative radio . gwen stefani had hit songs for years on the pop & alt charts , but she records a song written by pharrell & she’s instantly on top of the urban charts as well . this new r&b dance pop music crosses over to white kids & that kelly clarkson “since you’ve been gone” song was smeared across the lips of many a young black girl last year . m i a is all over the indie alternative stations , & lets not even get started on gnarls barkeley .
all signs point to the obvious : true music consumers right now are a ) young , & b) smart . young kids are able to point & click their way to every new trend . they arguably have short attention spans & they want to be in on what’s cool & personable to them . when madonna emerged in the ’80s you had tons of girls around the world imitating her every move & style down to the mole . kurt cobain turned grunge commercial when he was exposed to millions of kids who felt like society’s outsiders looking in . hip-hop has been a huge influence on mainstream culture since the early ’80s because of it’s relativity . kids have not changed . young people are not mindless robots who like what you tell them to like with no opinions . the youth are always looking to be enthralled .
they want to be entertained . they want to feel as though they are a part of something that will be written about , studied , & revered 20 years later . they , like all of us old & young alike , want to be inspired . when i was a kid i saw prince prance around on stage & dazzle people with his art & i felt inspired to do the same thing . why are you music industry idiots attempting to tell us that we don’t want to be touched ? why are you trying to rob us of new musical experiences ? will there ever be another motown 25 / michael jackson moonwalk experience ? will we never again hear a single like queen’s “bohemian rhapsody” on the radio because the hook isn’t catchy enough ? will we never see another band like the talking heads & joy division or parliament ? will there never be another artist to rival frank zappa ? will we be forced to hear different versions of the same dumb song on every single radio station every 5 minutes simply because the record label had enough money to pay off the station manager ? are we still supposed to care about mtv when there are hardly any videos in rotation ? do i even need to mention b e t or v h 1 ? are any of the classic record industry outlets working these days ? as of late it seems that artists are independently breaking ground with their own efforts . songs are being licensed for national commercials from artists’ myspace pages & personal websites . ellen degeneres has been known to book musical guests from videos seen on youtube , & as i aforementioned , gnarls barkeley not only created a new genre , but they also won grammy awards for an album that was recorded in home studios & released through an indie label .
why should artists even seek major label deals ? they are completely outdated & obsolete . artists are sold the dream that talent can secure superstardom , but it becomes evident that labels only sign bands nowdays because of the band’s existing fanbase & record sales , or because they dig the artist’s look & want to cash in . they don’t want to develop the art . they don’t want the artist to express his/herself entirely . they just want the artist to comply with what will get the company a big monetary return . they sign you for millions , pimp you for pennies , then drop you a year later when the music they made you record & release is no longer relevant . you’re left on the streets unsigned & irrelevant & ready to infect the world with the music you’ve always wanted to make , but no one will take a chance on you due to your previous material . meanwhile , the label has already put white out over your signature on the slave deal & replaced it with a younger version of you . cold game , ain’t it ?
the age old model is failing . as an industry based on faithful consumers you have lost your connection with the people who matter most : the PEOPLE . you have yet to show them that you are with the changing times & able to adapt to something new . you are proving that you are too afraid to promote good music . you would rather let the monotonous drone of what is today’s music remain unbalanced by substance . you would rather watch more legendary artists abandon you for direct deals with itunes & touring companies . you would rather allow the internet to defeat what should be your life’s work . maybe you should excuse yourself from the next a&r meeting to go take a look in the bathroom mirror . stand there & ask yourself why you took this job , & when you realize it’s simply because you wanted to be cool & “in the mix” then return to the conference room , take that gun out of your pocket , & shoot yourself in the head in front of your coworkers so that you are made an example of . if you can in fact leave that conference room & look in the bathroom mirror with pride & hunger to break the monotony then head back into that conference room , jump on top of the table & read this manifesto .
this is a challenge .
we’re calling your bluff .
record labels are nothing but banks that give artists hi price loans in exchange for artistic control . put your money where your cocks are . go out on a limb & support real music for a change . find the line where the internet & the real world meet & infect more people with something magical . start building more legends . it’s almost too late . interscope is dead . def jam is next . motown who ? mca what ? warner , you’re not too far behind . the war sirens are ringing & you’re content with playing deaf & dumb .
we’re calling your bluff !
we’re here to reprogram how you & the rest of the world listen to music .
we can do this together , or you can stick to your own devices & peril in the process .
we are the people . we are the future . we are the present .
who are you ?
copy this , paste this , & repost it wherever you see fit . email it to those who you believe can benefit from somethin like this . this is from the heart in jerry maguire “who’s comin with me?” fashion . lets open our eyes , our ears , & our hearts . lets stop standin for the bullshit & start demandin these idiots to take charge & make change . substance has the right to be heard . support real shit & start takin it to the streets !
c’mon people .
it’s 2008 . diddy killed music in 94 . it’s time for some better shit .
pass it on . . .
The first lady of Beatrock! Rocky Rivera is one of the illest MCs from the San Francisco Bay Area. Check out her latest! These are a few favorites like Bulletproof, Slick talk, and Swagger Jackin.
Dig this? Check out this piece I did of Rocky for AAPI heritage month. LINK
These are some photos of from the mural creating process me and Miguel Bounce Perez painted these past couple of weeks in the Sunnydale projects in San Francisco. We painted this as a collaboration with Hope SF, Housing Authority, and many other organizations such as Mercy Housing. You can see more photos from this mural project on the Instagram or Facebook accounts of Trust Your Struggle Collective.
final book cover with translation
Josh from Nomadic Press
Janine Macbeth of Blood Orange Press
Maya Gonzalez of Reflection Press
Cinthya Muñoz (translator for the book) and Melissa Reyes (author of I am Sausal Creek)
The book release of "I am Sausal Creek" was a great success. Hella people from all over the bay came through to support. We had lots of stars and up and coming stars of the independent Bay Area children's book movement. If you are interested in getting the book these folks were here to represent or support you ca cop it here. Please tell your local book store or library to hit up Josh at Nomadic Press!!
This Sunday! EVENT link: Come Through
Yo! This amazing book is DONE! We wrapped illustration on this a few months ago, the cover is done as you can see. And the book has been printed! Wow, this is my second published children's book to come into the world. If you are a supporter of the "We Need Diverse Books" campaign you need to come through to this event and meet the team. We are:
Melissa Reyes-author/teacher/activist . Melissa has been the driving spear for this project and she embodies the heart of the story. As a former school teacher she saw the need for this type of story and researched her butt off to make it happen. When she approached me last year with the project I knew I wanted to be down as soon as I read it. I cannot wait for more people to fully understand the impact that a book like this has and will have.
Cinthya Muñoz Ramos-activist, momma, and amazing translator who gave this book and mine the royal treatment by offering translation that is a doorway to spanish speakers whether they're from DR or Mexico. If you need your book translated into spanish, you need to holler a this fierce mujer!
And then there's me. Robert Trujillo -author, illustrator, dad, I am honored to be a part of an "Bay Area Independent Children's Book" creating family that includes folks like Janine Macbeth, Innosanto Nagarra, and more. My first children's book "A Taco & Cheese Taco Birthday" will be out on Arte Publico Press this fall. I am Sausal Creek is now available and my first self published children's book "Furqan's First Flat Top" will be out later this year.
Nomadic Press- A Brooklyn and Oakland based publisher who have been supporting us through the design, layout, and printing of Sausal. They are an amazing publisher who are pursig new direction in children's book publishing here in the Bay.
So, if you're in the town, come through! If you want to see some finished spreads from the book, go to my website!
Hey now, I have an updated portfolio site up with some help from my love Joy Liu over at Swash Design. Check it out and let me know what you think! If there s anyone you know who'd be interested in pre-ordering my first self published children's book Furqan's First Flat Top tell them they can get it there. And, well..check out some of the stuff I've been working on. A lot more to come that I can't show yet. Blessings and more fruitful beginnings for the year.
The entrance where you need a badge
Ok, I’ve been meaning to write about the ALA (American Library Association) since I went recently. I’ll try to keep this short. On a sunny but brisk weekend in Frisco I went to the ALA and visited my TYS Crew and friends painting a mural near by at the Ybca.
My crew mates and friends painting murals
Getting IN: This is a barrier. Not as big of a wall as the SCBWI, but its still a wall that some people cannot get through. I’m lucky that I am doing well enough as a freelancer that I could afford to go. But more importantly I understand the type of investment going is. So I paid. But, not before trying to find a hook up. I mean, come on. Wouldn’t you try to get in free if you could? No dice. But while asking about getting in from the women selling tickets at the front kiosk, a brother from Georgia basically broke it down to me. Pay for the minimum price. There are two types of attendance fees that I knew of, probably more. 1- Get into the area where they sell shit-tons of shit, mostly books, but a bunch of other shit. I’ll get to that. 2-Attend the panels and discussions. This was important because some of the people you want to meet are specifically at those.
Networking: This is important. I know, I know. Its not easy to just go up to someone you don’t know and talk to them. But, if you want to learn everything there is to know about any chosen field, or just know all the tools in the box networking helps.
-And I honestly try to talk only to people who I actually have a connection to. As it relates to children’s books, that could be an author or illustrator who’s work I actually like. Not just a name, but someone who I actively read, follow, or know something about. That way if I do talk to them, I have something to actually talk about.
-Another important thing about networking. You never know who you’ll meet, what you’ll learn, or who you’ll stumble upon. Case in point, I was walking through what ALA calls “artist alley” a place where indie and established illustrators/authors sell their book and talk to people face to face. In the alley that day I met several people who I’d been following like Gene Luen Yang, Nathan Hale, John Hendrix, Erika Alexander and her husband TonyPuryear, and many more.
-Homework. Because I am learning about the field still (3 books in) I am constantly studying artists and writers who are doing stuff that I like visually or creatively with the writing. I can’t stress how important it is to do the work, look for the work, and ultimately improve your work.
-Connection, homework, and stumble! Now combine all three of those. I just happen to see John Hendrix. Didn’t know he’d be there at all. Love his illustrations for “John Brown” and immediately walked up to him ask him about his work. Guess what? He wasn’t a jerk, he was quite nice and because I was familiar with his work it made the conversation free of creepy or awkwardness. We talked about technique, I showed him my work (not because I expected anything, just because I dig his work) and Howard Reeves comes up to talk to me about my work. I talk to him just like I was talking to John (natural). Turns out this guy is an editor at a press I’m familiar with. Why? Because a fellow classmate from college Duncan Tonatiuh is published his company. I ask him if he knows him. Of course! He’s his editor. Wow, connection however small made.
It was a always a rush of people
The enormity of the big 5 companies
Knowledge/Learning: Although I am now 3 books into the children’s book game, it is a lifelong journey and I will forever be a student. On the one hand I’m quick to say #$%& the industry! Do it yourself! Some days I’m like I need to begetting that Scholastic money, I’m trying to own a house, lol. But to be real with you as an artist, as an entrepreneur, and as a human I am learning and pulling from many sources. I believe the big companies have some things to teach. I believe that to really learn how to be a children’s book creator I must investigate whoever is out there creating dope shit. By that I mean beautiful artwork, good quality printing, and stories that are from the heart that represent some of the cultures I come from. I believe that there is no waiting for larger companies to “find you” or for a company or person to validate you. It’s really about doing it.
panel on diversity
Don Tomas Moniz reading from a zine
Nia King reading from a zine
Future: In conclusion, if you are an illustrator or writer interested in children’s books and the ALA is in your city. I’d say go. Check it out, see what they’re talking about at least. The ALA did a way better job at promoting diversity and bringing not only a wide array of speakers/companies in-they had a much more diverse in attendance than I expected. I could have dealt with out all the corporate companies selling sinks, book shelves, filing systems, etc but hey I went and found what I was looking for.
Zines: They had an awesome zine pavilion where I got to see artists like Breena Nuñez, Avy Jetter, Liz Mayorga, and of course my Rad Dadfamilia. Lots of lefties there and anarchy in the corner which is just what they need in my opinion.
The zine pavillion
Friends: Aww man, 10 years ago, shit maybe even 5 years ago I probably would not have known anyone there. But I was happy to see Amy Sonnie(Oakland librarian/Co-author of HillBilly NationalistsUrban Race Rebels, and Black Power ), Innosanto Nagarra (author/illustrator of A is for Activist), Duncan Tonatiuh ( Diego Rivera, Separate is never equal ). I met some people from Chronicle who recognized me after doing a talk with one of their illustrators on Latin@s for Kid Lit, I saw John Jennings (Black Comix, Black Kirby), Nia King (Queer artists of color), and I met Cory Silverberg. I’m sure I’m forgetting some body else but it was nice to see familiar faces.
ALA: Please include an intentional artists alley for more independent publishers of color who are from the cities you are being hosted in. You missed Reflection Press, Blood Orange Press and Marcus Books! But good job on including folks from #WeNeedDiverseBooks , i caught the tail end of the talk, but was glad they were there.