As I write: Dizzee Rascal speaks to me from the little documented past–before the album, the mercury and the notoriety–through the tinny speakers of our living room stereo. I say little documented because for a great many people, raskit’s ascendancy happened ‘almost over night’ and was ignited by the critical faculties of the mercury prize panel. I take issue with this sort of thinking. Whilst the notion of overnight celebrity is publicly lauded and discredited the fact remains that we buy into these overnight, get-rich-quick stories. The reason for this is that this makes such fame, or better still recognition, accessible but the actuality is that such recognition eludes many who graft beneath the radar for years. Imagining Dizzee in those days of garage raves and late night pirate radio sessions I’m reminded of the importance of graft and vision.
Whilst there was a certain degree of luck and maybe even tokenism in Dizzee’s eventual success there can be no doubt that he did work hard on his music. How much the luck outweighs the graft is a discussion for another day. Given that the luck presented him only with opportunities there was a need for Dylan Mills to capitalise on the choices open to him. For some time I have been trying to do this myself; attempting to follow Michael Donaghy’s entreaty ‘always carry a spoon in case it rains soup’. I’ve been thinking a lot about those words since I first came across them trawling the net for interviews with writers. Inherent in them there seems to be an acute awareness of timeliness and luck in the achievement of goals wished for and stumbled upon. However I don’t think these words encourage opportunism but instead preparation. There is a lot to be said for it.
Having just returned from Sheffield and the 2nd birthday of an event series I co-founded, my thoughts on ambition have been brought into sharp focus by the work being done by Opus. This arts collective is in its 3rd year and specializes in the provision of quality community driven arts events and publications. The Opus brand has expanded by some margin since I first came across an open mic night they hosted on Sunday evenings back in 2006. In the time I have worked with them I have come to learn a lot about the importance of building a community. In my haste to achieve the next goal to bring me closer to recognition my notion of community has become increasingly blurred. As the youthful desire to prove myself falls away I hope I am prepared for the graft that comes with striving for something broader than my own personal goals.