• jsemugaza

Crunching Numbers

A few days ago while I was putting off cleaning my house, I loaded up an episode of ‘Hot Ones’ on YouTube. For those who don’t know, ‘Hot Ones’ is a show from the media network Complex where their host invites celebrities to eat wings that get progressively hotter in the hopes that these celebrities will say or do something funny, at the expense of their ability to taste food in the future (it’s a great show, I recommend it to everyone).

It’s a good concept since heat and extremes of any means usually make us act differently, so it’s nice seeing these celebrities who are usually painted a certain way act completely out of character, or in character in some instances. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Gordon Ramsay swear so much until I saw him get abused by spicy chicken wings.

In one of their episodes, the rapper Offset was on the show promoting his new solo album. For those who don’t know who that is, Offset is on of the three rappers in the successful rap trio called “The Migos.” And if you don’t know who the Migos are, well you have some catching up to do.

During his episode, the host Sean Evans asked Offset a question relating to his obsession with big data and data analytics, to which Offset stated, “The numbers match up to what you are. So your worth goes by your numbers. The lower your worth the lowers the numbers, that’s just how it is”.

Before I continue let’s get a few things out of the way. Offset in this quote was talking about the rap game and his observation that most young rappers have a history of being careless with their money. Secondly, we need to remember that Offset is a multimillionaire, so his views might slightly differ from a simpleton like myself. But with that being said, there has to be a reason why his comment has stuck with me for this long.

If you take it at face value his point makes sense. If you release a song and it reaches number one (or even the top 10) on the charts for a month, you’ve got a hit. Your streaming numbers go up and your exposure increases as well. But like most things in contemporary media, nothing lasts. If you’re on the board you need to stay on the board, which means you need to make more music, which means you need to read trends and see what people are listening to and deliver.

Now obviously individuality and artistic integrity also play a factor into all of this, but if we’re talking about making hits and securing bags, this is essentially the bare bones recipe. If you’re able to capitalize on a market like the Migos (or Drake for the Canadian readers), everything works out. There’s a reason why kids are still dabbing, or that anyone from Vancouver to Halifax can hum or rap the chorus, or in some instances, an entire Drake album. They found a market, optimized their opportunity and made ducats.

But what about us regular people? You know, the ones who don’t have club hits or chips named after us? Or the ones who don’t own Lamborghini SUVs? (If you didn’t know Lamborghini made SUVs don’t worry; I’ts because you’re too broke to know this information and I was in the same boat, so now we can be broke together). I think that’s where everything else comes into play, for me at least.

Now I think were all exceptional people with exceptional gifts destined to do exceptional things with our short time here but at times, at least for me, it feels like everything we do is based off numbers, and everyone wants to know about those numbers. How many followers do you have? How much do you make a year? What’s your credit score? How many presents did you get for Christmas? You ate how many chicken nuggets in one sitting? Although these are pretty generic examples, the fact of the matter is you’ve been asked these or thought about these questions in the past. And like all things in life, repetition is key. The more you hear it the more you think about it. It’s like the Great Wu-Tang clan stated, “Cash (and sometimes chicken nuggets) rules everything around me”. Which, technically, yes, it kind of does.

But what about the other ‘numbers’ that we throw in to our sometime arbitrary algorithm that identifies our worth. Who wished me happy birthday on my feed? Why isn’t my career where I thought it was going to be? Should I be married by now? Why did I break my new years resolution again? Why didn’t I get that promotion? I could honestly go on forever.

Its easy to compare everything you do with others, were human beings– this kind of irrational stuff happens all the time. But everything in excess is never good. But when your identity, your accomplishments or your self worth starts to take a hit? Over a Lamborghini Truck you know you don’t need? That’s when thinks start to become problematic.

The perception of ourselves is as bright as we want to it to be. Sure, being down happens, but it shouldn’t be the norm in my opinion. There’s a reason why I’m not the CEO of a fortune 500 company. And its because I’m 23 with minimal experience in that field. There’s a reason why that thesis paper is taking longer than your peers, or why you didn’t get that promotion. But more importantly there’s a reason why that shouldn’t be, and isn’t the only thing, that defines you. Numbers are infinite, which means there are infinite possibilities available to make today or tomorrow a better one. So, trying to measure that by one definite number can quickly turn into a fool’s errand.

Let me know your thoughts on this. Have you caught yourself looking at the numbers you put up? Does it bother you, or drive you to achieve more?

Be good, do good and because it a certified banger, here’s the previously mentioned Cash Rules Everything Around Me (C.R.E.A.M) by The Wu-Tang Clan (just click on the cassette below and enjoy).

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