SoulsticeDC-based MC Soulstice, by way of Chicago, recently celebrated the big 3-0, and as he reflect on his career, he penned his piece about how his music has progressed.

Last week, I turned 30. Part of me feels like I shouldn’t be ratting myself out on this one. Ah well, I’ve built my music career on the principle of full disclosure (or at least in the spirit of full disclosure — I don’t tell y’all everything), so here we are.

I’ve been making music for a while now. I’ve been writing lyrics since I was 14, recording songs since I was 18, and releasing albums since I was 24. In fact, I’m feeling a little nostalgic … let’s take a peek at young SoulStice circa 1998. This is a link to a snippet of “Rapid Fire,” the first solo song I ever recorded. I’ve never released this song, so until now only my friends have heard it:

(Listen and/or download the MP3 for “Rapid Fire” here)

OK, the production quality is pretty poor — my long-time friend BJ and I actually drove from Chicago to Indianapolis for that particular recording session. Other than that though, your boy had lyrics! Delivery was still a little shaky though, and what was up with that chorus? “Chi Worldwide” (circa 2009) from “Beyond Borders” makes an interesting point of comparison:

(Listen and/or download the MP3 for “Chi Worldwide” here)

Thinking about the songs I’ve written since “Rapid Fire,” it’s clear to me that the two major creative impulses driving my songwriting have been reflection (on myself, the world, life) and self-affirmation. The degree to which each of these impulses has driven my creative process has changed over the years. “Rapid Fire” was all about self-affirmation. I was still relatively early in my transition from the nerdy, high school Valedictorian to the slightly less nerdy engineer and musician whose albums you listen to, whose shows you attend and whose emails you read. My latest work, “Beyond Borders,” is mostly motivated by the reflection impulse. If you listen through the songs, I do very little of the bravado thing. That’s an accomplishment in my book, as it’s always tempting to use the blank canvas of an instrumental to let the world know that you’re not to be f***ed with. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not done writing those kind of lyrics — let’s face it, they’re fun to write and fun to listen to. But this collection of songs is mostly reflective (note that “reflective” doesn’t necessarily mean “soft”).

The path between and including “Rapid Fire” and “Beyond Borders” is full of stories, many of which you’ve heard if you’ve been on this list for long enough, some of which you haven’t. At 20, I figured I’d have hung it up by 30. At 30, my insight is this:

Being a 30-year old rapper isn’t so bad as long as your music isn’t indistinguishable from that of a 20-year old.

Peace & Longevity,