Some people are just really good at what they do. My friend Hollis does like 1,700 things, and yes she’s good at them all. Singing, writing, playing piano, teaching, slam poetry, 1/3 of her band “The Flavr Blue” and mentoring youth are a few of her impressive talents that immediately come to my head. I wanted to write this post, to give some perspective on how she’s lent her skill set to our team on the creative front, and shine some light on the person that is Hollis.
At a certain point in making The Heist I felt creatively blocked. Happens all the time. Some blocks last for a couple hours, some can go as long as a couple months. I felt I was writing the same song over and over, regurgitating mediocre and uninspired thoughts, looking for a sort of breakthrough that didn’t exist. Pressure builds, self-esteem dissipates and the mind starts to eat away at any potential signal the heart might be attempting to communicate with the ink.
I was in desperate need of a refreshed perspective in terms of my process. I’ve learned that a lot of rappers hit this wall, and in turn many of them hire “ghost writers” to help get them through their slump. As tempting as it might sound in the midst of writers block induced depression, having someone write my raps has never truly appealed to me. But sitting with someone, free writing and talking about life has. Hollis was the person that I called.
We met probably 6 times to write in the winter/spring of 2012. I wish it had been more. We’d pick a spot, eat a bagel, drink some coffee, catch up about life and just start writing. Sometimes there would be a prompt, or topic. At other times we’d just go. At one of these eat a bagel/drink coffee/write until your hand hurts sessions Hollis hit me with “you should write a song about your Cadillac.” Immediately my reaction was “Hell no. I wish I could. But I’m the anti-consumption, social aware, don’t let logo’s define us guy. My fans would hate me.” But after a couple minutes of thinking about it I came to the conclusion “fuck it.” As much as I’m aware of the things I listed above, I’m also a complete contradiction to them as well. And I love Cadillac’s. I told Hollis I’d try it, with very little confidence it would ever turn into anything more than an exercise.
Sure enough, I started scribbling thoughts about everything that is Cadillac. Pages on pages filled, and eventually I had a bunch of raps glorifying my favorite automobile. Hollis came to the studio one day, and in like 20 minutes (yes, Hollis is a pro) had a chorus written and was ready to track.
It’s important to work with people that push you. That make you step your game up and help you become a better version of yourself. Hollis is a better writer than me. Many times in these writing sessions, I would leave feeling shitty about myself as a writer. But that’s what I needed. To get out of my own head, have someone else’s skill set tear apart my ego, and start over. It’s a liberating experience.
Up until the White Walls video dropped a couple days ago, you might not have known who Hollis was. But she has played many positions on our team the last couple years. She was the producer of the Thrift Shop video. She wrote the chorus for the song Wing$, helped produce the video and assisted in the Kickstarter. As stated above she acted as my writing partner for a period of time when I needed it most. And of course, she lends her voice to the beautiful hook on White Walls.
Without Hollis our creative output in the last couple years wouldn’t be what it has turned into. She’s the kind of person that when I’m spending time with her, she makes me better at my job. I love her, appreciate her and just wanted to take a second to give you a slight glimpse at one of the people behind the scenes that makes our art what it is.
Connect with Hollis: