As a story teller, Christopher George Latore Wallace’s control over narrative pacing and structure aptly earned him one of his many self appointed monikers, the ” rap Alfred Hitchcock.” Had Big worked in the medium of motion pictures his debut album Ready to Die could have drawn parallels to the urban artistry of Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep with thematic threads comparable to Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus (see “Everyday Struggle“)…by way of Abel Ferrara’s nihilistic neo noir King of New York.
Simply put, ALL FILMMAKERS SHOULD STUDY BIG’S STORY TELLING.
However, the purpose of this post is not to highlight Big’s narrative craftsmanship, but to shed light upon one of his often overlooked literary contributions, the “Ten Crack Commandments“. As a survivalist manifesto the Ten Crack Commandments should stand next to Machiavelli’s “The Prince” or Sun Tzu for hood niggas’ Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power. Each one of the Ten Crack Commandments can readily be appropriated to the collective filmmaking game, military thinking, legal strategy or any entrepreneurial venture for that matter.
Without glorifying the kamikaze capitalist trade of crack dealing, we will briefly explore the implications of each commandment because let’s face it, business minded talent-less middlemen can appear to be a pack of wolves in suits to the creative fledgling.
As Big has provided such a succinct step by step booklet for you to get your game on track, not your wig pushed back…what follows is a reinterpretation of Big’s methodology for survival for the modern day struggling artist… i.e me.
- Rule nombre uno: Never let no one know how much, dough you hold, cause you know, the cheddar breed jealousy…
- Keep your capitol and budgetary concerns to yourself. Unless discussing a project with potential financial backers or creative collaborators, I’ve found mentioning numbers with those who aren’t involved or invested in its success can shade its perception.
- Number two: never let em know your next move
Don’t you know Bad Boys move in silence or violence…
- Take it from your highness. Speaking too much about my work before its completion often ruins my creative process. Many of my personal favorite filmmakers rarely do press in between projects…probably cause they’re busy working. Let the work speak for itself.
- Number three: never trust no-bo-dy
- See Commandment 1 & 2. Also COPYRIGHT YOUR WORK AND READ YOUR CONTRACTS. I usually have a hard time with this one cause of my egalitarian psuedo socialist sentiments…I usually don’t give a fuck if someone uses/steals my ideas cause I figure 1: It’s all art and art shouldn’t be “owned”. And 2: No one can execute my ideas like I can. BUT just in case they can, I gotta (legally) protect myself.
- Number four: Know you heard this before
Never get high, on your own supply
- Art isn’t meant to be masturbatory. Well at least for me it isn’t. Share it, let it build a dialogue. If your work ever becomes so insular that it can’t communicate with anyone outside of its creator… *slowly cranes neck at post 70’s Jean-Luc Godard*….yea…
- Number five: Never sell no crack where you rest at
I don’t care if they want a ounce, tell em bounce
- This one is a bit tricky. For the past 2 years I’ve learned to work from home out of necessity (I’m a southern boy transplanted into the concrete tundra of Chicago…I don’t go outside if it’s 20 degrees or below). Also I JUST learned, if you operate your own business out of your home its possible to write that off on your taxes. However I believe the implications for this commandment deal with having a clear separation between your business and home life (See Commandment 7 for further details)
- Number six: that god damn credit, dead it
You think a crackhead payin you back, shit forget it
- Make sure you get compensated for your work…in some tangible capacity. If you’re an artist who takes your time and work seriously, then value it as such. Recently I’ve been intrigued with alternative grassroots economies, specifically ones in which artists, craftsmen, etc. exchange their goods for services. My Kinfolk partner and I experimented with this when we filmed a brief spot for a local barber in which he repaid us with a series of free haircuts.
- Seven: This rule is so underrated
Keep your family and business completely separated
- It would first appear hypocritical for a brand titled Kinfolk Collective who sees it audience/collaborators as family and not commodities to keep family and business completely separated. However no one wishes have familial relationships destroyed over poor business practices…and/or vice versa. Even Beyonce fired her father. I came across the quote recently “Your art can’t love you back.” Just something to keep in mind when separating work and family.
- Number eight: Never keep no weight on you
- I have no fucking clue how to reinterpret this for our purposes. If you have any suggestions hit the comment box.
- Number nine shoulda been number one to me
If you ain’t gettin bagged stay the fuck from police
- (See Commandment 8)
- Number ten: a strong word called consignment
Strictly for live men, not for freshmen
If you ain’t got the clientele say hell no
Cause they gon want they money rain sleet hail snow
- Never undertake a project that’s beyond your capacity to complete. Often young artists, particularly filmmakers, begin a work that demands more than they anticipated (myself included). If you can’t treat an idea with the formal severity it deserves (either due to budgetary constraints or time issues) right now then wait until you can.
Of course these are more so guidelines rather than full on commandments. Like Sun Tzu this treatise is less about conquering and more about avoiding conflict through mastery of self. And if you think this is bullshit then take it up with Adrien Brody and the American Academy of Poets.