In 2012, I was working full-time and going to school full time while feeling anxious about life all at the same time. This drove me to go without sleep for days. In lieu of me losing out on sleep and being stressed, I went into a temporary psychosis where I suffered hallucinations and delusions. I wandered off to NY where I eventually was picked up by law enforcement and admitted to Bellevue Hospital. I can’t explain exactly what was going on with me that night, but I knew something was off. The doctor’s said that I was in a psychosis and that my hallucinations and delusions drove me to NY where I was admitted. Since then, I was given a different scope to look through when assessing my emotions and thoughts. After recovering from this psychosis, I was given medication that induced sleep and stabilized my mood. Eventually, I was diagnosed as having manic depression; a bipolar disorder that has me feeling the polar spectrum of extreme happiness and extreme irritation, anxiety and depression. Between the years of 2012 and 2014, I would have been in and out of psychiatric institutions 3 times. In 2014, I spent the holidays from Halloween to after New Year’s in the hospital. My mother and father both have suffered from mental illness and both have been institutionalized countless times; it was hereditary. The onset for my disorder is about 18-19, so it makes sense why I didn’t realize that something was really wrong until 2012. The manic-depression was a result of all the variables in my life such as poverty, loneliness, and a stressful obsession with being successful. I learned more about mental illness, attended workshops, read books, spoke to counselors and got assistance from a mental health care provider called Bridgeway. Through these different things I was able to educate myself on psychology and mental health practices that ultimately motivated me to pursue a bachelor’s in psychology. Through learning about psychology and mental health, I was able to better understand myself and cope with my disorder.
I try to refrain from allowing my disorder from affecting my day to day responsibilities and my relationships. Some days I feel like I want to be with everyone I love in one space where we all can talk and rejoice and other days I feel completely alone, annoyed and abandoned by the world. This is why I am a mental health advocate, I want people to be aware of themselves and understand themselves so that they can take the necessary precautionary steps in preventing breakdowns and reducing the chance of alcohol or drug abuse.
I realized my power after my 23rd birthday in August 2015. At that moment, I felt that I completely tore down the chains that kept me psychologically entrapped and suffocating my creativity. I was able to quit my job, started working on my dreams full time, and got accepted to New Jersey City University with my associate’s degree as a transfer student from Union County College. When I got accepted to NJCU I declared my major as psychology in aspirations of gaining a better understanding of myself and the human mind as a whole. Even though I was working full-time and going to school full-time my contributions to the household weren’t enough to keep us away from eviction and we became homeless. This literally happened 2 weeks before school started that Fall, but I was resilient and eventually was able to overcome homelessness and provide a home for myself.
Within my own solitude, I was able to meditate on my future and started to formulate what is now JOTF Records. Music has always been my passion since the age of 8 when I started studying rap music. Now I was in a time and place where I was going to dedicate my life to my craft and my company. I was in the perfect position to focus on myself and laser focus on my goals; both short and long term. I started JOTF Records and officially became a registered business with the state of NJ in April 2016. Since then, I learned so much and graduated in May 2017. In my music I try to bring consciousness to a level that can be understood by the masses by sharing unique perspectives on popular issues and also posing philosophical questions about life. Being conscious is about being aware of the self and of others in the essence of mind, body and soul.
Music has always been my creative outlet, rather listening or creating it. I also enjoy drawing, but music outlasted my passion for visual arts. The vibrations from music change my body chemistry and physically affects me and it’s a transfer of energy from the music to my spirit. I use music to charge my spirit by listening to music that has a sonic and lyrical influence on me. I would listen to Jay Z, TuPac, Nas, Drake, Kanye and Lil Wayne when I was going through hard times where each of these artists had something different to offer. Jay Z offered wisdom and a hustler’s mentality that drove me to be resilient and relentless in my efforts to better my life. TuPac kept me grounded, conscious and realistic about the life we live in in the hood and how even in the shadows of poverty we can shine as Black people. Nas elevated my philosophical ways of looking at life in the hood and his music analyzed and broke things down in a way that could build my own unique perspective on life. Drake made me realize how being true to yourself is all that matters and that being open about how you feel doesn’t emasculate you as a man. Kanye inspired my creative genius and I aspired to master all facets of my talents from music to photography, videography, sound engineering and even drawing. Kanye is a multi-talented genius and that inspired me to be the same. Lil Wayne’s energy and enthusiasm was like a shot of monster whenever I was feeling low, and his unswerving attention for self-improvement and a winner’s mentality to be the best, made me admire him and aspire to be as self-confident as he is. Lil Wayne has never stopped himself from being Lil Wayne and he’s always been comfortable with himself, which made me do the same.
People are inspired by my resilience and come to me when they need to be motivated. I never let my circumstances stop me from spreading love and positivity and I think that aspect of who I am is what influences people the most. I literally can’t help but to be an optimist and people admire that. That inspires me to stay strong and continue to lead by example for my peers. I’ve had a number of people tell me that from listening to my music and watching me, they were inspired to better themselves. I wrote a song that I released the week of graduation, called “Graduation”. In this record I talk about all of the struggles of being a student and trying to pursue a dream while dealing with the emotional struggles of my life. I got 26k plays on SoundCloud and it’s one of my most played songs up to date. People came back to me saying that that song is why they stayed in school or decided to get back in school. I live to inspire those with my story and to do so brings beauty out of my pain. I live a life of service and my music is what I choose to use as my tool. I knew that this was what was meant for me and that by sharing my story I could be inspiring the stories of so many more after me. It’s my obligation as an artist to influence and inspire.
My mind and spirit has evolved and I continue the growth every day of my life. I just hope to overcome the lows and truly embrace the highs without pushing anyone out of my life. I measure my personal growth by my level of change that I can observe in my life. I never forget to look back at where I’ve come from and taking a chance to see where I currently am, without disregarding where I am trying to go. I think a balance of attention between the past, the present and the future is extremely crucial in my method of measuring my growth. Personally, I want a wife and kids one day. I grew up as an only child and before depression and poverty entered my world, I literally had the best childhood and house life with my parents. I wish that those days continued into my teenage years where I could’ve used it the most. There’s a lot my parents did for me and I’ll never forget, but there’s so much more that needed to be done in more crucial times of my development and so I wish to recreate that with my own family one day. Of course a wife and kids would only come into play after I accomplish my goals as a professional because without achieving my goals, I truly do not believe I could reach happiness. It’s almost like I’ve been called on by the universe and if I don’t answer that call I’ll always live my life asking myself “what if”. In psychology we call that ontological regret, living life wishing you would’ve done what you wanted to when it was still possible. That can’t and won’t be me. My life is a gamble, and I’ve literally given my life to my music and my record label and I have no regrets thus far. At the end of it all, no one can ever say that I didn’t do everything in my power to make it and I truly believe that if you want it all, you have to give it all.
If I could give any advice to another person of color on how to embrace their power and their individuality I would tell them to take time to be alone. The truths of who we really are reveal themselves when we spend ample time alone meditating on who you are, who you were and who you are building yourself up to be. It is very important to work on what psychologists call interpersonal intelligence which is based on the level of understanding that one has of themselves in relation to thoughts and emotions. We must understand ourselves in order to embrace what we are and through that embrace your individuality surely shines unapologetically. Learn your flaws, learn what makes you great and learn what you are most grateful for in your life. Through gratitude you will find abundance in life’s greatest fruits. I would tell them to love themselves unconditionally and have the utmost confidence in all of their abilities and attributes. Discover, distinguish and embrace.
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