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Lately, I’ve been waking up around 6:30 AM and getting to my studio by 7 AM, with my phone on airplane mode, to make music with no distractions. I’ve found that after 10 AM, I have to start communicating with people, dealing with the business and admin side of my music. If I create music before the day comes roaring in, I feel fulfilled. Having that early window is what allows me to feel like I’m being the best artist I can be. It’s what allowed me to sit down and write the song “No”.

“No” came about over the summer. I had said yes to one too many things at once, taking on non-music jobs that were unrelated to my skill set and not delivering properly because I was afraid to say no. I’ve ended up letting people down because I said yes to things I shouldn’t have, when I felt like I would be letting them down if I said no. I became aware that I say yes to things that take me away from doing music full-time. I say yes to avoid conflict. I say yes even when it would be better for other people if I said no. I look back on my past and notice that this isn’t just a phase, it’s been my biggest weakness.

It seems like all of us have a hard time saying no, especially artists. Sometimes things seem promising like a show or festival, or a “special promotional package”, but they end up not being what we thought. How could we have had the foresight to see what the outcome would be? Artists are often asked to do things for free or even pay to play.

The decision to say yes or no to something has a lot to do with intuition. It can also have to do with the cost versus reward, which only we can know for ourselves. I look at people who are good at saying no and I realize that most of these people are successful because they aren’t taking on too much at once, or they’re just being more clear about communicating what they want. I always try to trust my gut, and when I don’t, I usually say yes to something that I shouldn’t have. Somehow I keep re-learning this lesson.

I’ve felt like I had to work side-jobs so that I could keep investing in my music. Arguably, I did have to do for some time. After pursuing music for almost 20 years, I’ve made the shift to full-time music. Fully committing to music is a big move. I think it’s crucial for artists to recognize when having a side-job is helping you get to your goal, and when it’s taking you away from where you wanted to be heading. If you work at your music for long enough, there will be a time when it becomes your main job. If you do that too soon though, you might end up saying yes to a side job again. It’s important to know when that time arrives, and to step away from everything that’s in the way of your dream coming true. Making that leap has changed my life, and it involves saying no a lot, even when it doesn’t make sense to others. I try to be at peace with the reality that being a full-time artist isn’t something that most people can relate to. It’s the songs we make that people relate to.

One night, I started joking with some friends and posed the question: what if you just answered people with a simple “no”? Why is that so hard to do? Why is there a social stigma around giving a straight-up “no” for an answer?

Often people will ask, “well, what are you so busy doing that you can’t do this? What’s so important?”

I wish I could respond with, “I’m actually going dumpster diving and then taking a long nap. It’s none of your business. My time is my time.” Usually, I just want time to create music and be the best artist I can be. That’s what’s important to me. This is what I want to tell people when they ask me, “what’s so important?”

I feel like everyone can relate to the “no” dilemma. We all deal with this, probably many times a day. Your boss asks you to stay at work a little longer. A client adds something extra for you to do after hiring you. Your friends want you to have a drink with them when you’re trying not to drink. I should note that I do believe in being generous and showing up for people, especially when someone is suffering or needs help in an emergency. Happiness also comes from doing things that are important to others, but if we are going to feel right within, there has to be a healthy balance. In the case of an artist, we have to have time to create. If we don’t, what makes us artists?

It’s one of those songs that I just know is going to resonate with a lot of people. That’s only happened a couple times in my career. When I’m finished with a song, I usually show a handful of close friends. I can usually tell by their reaction if it’s going to go somewhere or not. “No” was a unanimous yes.

After dropping my single “From the Woods Remix (feat. KRS-One)” back in April, I’m really looking forward to releasing music again. I’ll be releasing singles often and working on multiple projects in the months to come. I even dropped my first NFT for the S.N.A.G. (Sensitive New Age Guy) music video 5 year anniversary. Over the summer I performed in my hometown in Massachusetts. It was my first show in 18 months. It was sold out and it felt so great to hit the stage again. I’m working on an epic live show for 2022 and feeling hopeful about the future of live shows and touring.

I hope this song helps people have confidence about making their own choices, trusting the gut, and following intuition to live the life they deserve.

lyrics

Why is it so hard to say no?

I'm saying no to everything that ain't bringing me anything
Can you just
No
Please just
No
I really think you'd be a great fit for my
No
I'm looking for someone who can temporarily help me with
No
Why not I've got plenty of money as you can see
But I'd really like you to make me a beat for free
No
Please
Are you interested in my promotional package
For one hundred percent real organic traction?
No

I need some space cuz I'm decorating time
I'm saying no to everything that's not letting me rhyme
Put my money where my music is
Look how much it's taking me
Working in restaurants mowing lawns even a bakery
Moving books for a book store the kitchen that I cooked for
Biking through Brooklyn with a bag of buddha to your front door
Engineering sound feels like everybody playing me
Eight hour shifts and no more gas in the tank for me
To be the artist I am and do what's necessary
Cuz I ain't cool watching Netflix and being sedentary
Sitting on the dock of the bay watching opportunities pass
While I saw my friends blowing up fast
And that's when people's wins had me feeling depressed
When they posted on the gram all I saw was success
Playing huge shows and getting mad press
But I've got to confess it's hard not to say yes to that

I'm saying no to everything that ain't bringing me anything
Can you just
No
Please just
No
I know your really busy but I just need you to
No
It's not really paid but you'll get some exposure
No
Just do it
I was thinking instead of money we could do an energy exchange
Um no
Come on
You're really talented but it's going to be really hard for you
And I think you should stop
No

I've messed up my whole life just from saying yes
Never though that being nice would cause so much stress
I want to be working on my dream instead of petty things
Sacrificing my passion I'm clashing with what your pressure brings
I'm taking side jobs that don't even make sense for me
It's like you're trying to chase me from the destiny that's meant for me
I'll quit eventually and rap til they remember me
Let the world know that I'm the illest of the century cuz
I know you know no one knows how to say no
And a lot of people texting me to see what they can get from me
I'll walk away and let it be hone these rhymes incredibly
Fakers trying to show respect retrospectively essentially
Now I'm saying no impeccably don't be testing me
And if you're trying to be hard I'll pull your SD card
Wiping out your memory
Cuz I think you forgot I'm in the studio writing rhymes incessantly

I'm saying no to everything that ain't bringing me anything
No

credits

released September 10, 2021
Produced by Jackson Whalan
Keyboard and synths: Ian Evans
Vocals: Jackson Whalan

Mixed by Jackson Whalan
Mastered by Robert Macchiochi / Subvert Central Mastering

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Jackson Whalan

I rap and make beats to uplift.

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