Be Sure As F*ck

"If you aren't willing to dedicate yourself to sacrificing sh*t , how bad do you really want it? "

 

You gotta be able to let go of being scared and let go of needing confirmation so you can take a chance. 

 

I look at it like this, say I'm 25. If I have been doing something all of my 7 years of adult life and it fails. So what..

7 years out of 80+ aint the end, if I start something else right now, i might be able to find better success in it because of what I learned in the business side of being an artist so if photography was to fail, that's only because I stopped trying. You have to fail in order to learn, so a loss is a lesson. Take the L and do it a lil different next time over and over until it works and that's called success lol.

Note when I say "trying", I mean 7 years of real effort. Not "I do this enough to say I do it but I go out every weekend and buy all the J's" trying, I mean messy hair, secondhand shoes, same shirt type trying. Strict discipline, respect yourself enough to take yourself extremely serious and run your business like the business you wish you ran.

Be sure of what you want and Go for it with everything you have and you can get it if you ask me.

 

 

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Xavier Thomas - Xavier@ArtLike.Us

#TBT - That one time when I shot Gucci Mane.

BURR(GH)

When Levels Agency has an event, you start to hear about it from everyone. It starts popping up in conversations at work, your whole timeline is obsessed with it, and you hear people talking about it in passing when you’re walking down the street, or strolling the aisles in the grocery store. The rumors fly & the buzz gets heavy, it becomes an event you don’t want to miss, and you know niggas will talk about it for years afterwards… Word on the street was Gucci Mane was coming to Pittsburgh. Fresh out, and from the looks of social media, a very changed “Mane”, he was blessing us with the first show he was allowed to travel for. Nobody was checking for new Gucci Mane 2.0 though, we wanted Shawty Got an Ass on her (ON HERRR) make you grab the closest person to you and get it poppin at your friends Fire Hall birthday party Gucci Mane, and that’s the Guwop we got.

I was invited to shoot by Levels Agency, which was super dope in itself. Levels is an event, management, & marketing agency founded by 3 young black men, who have brought some serious talent to the area since their launch and were responsible for turning our city into PittsBURRgh for the first night of Woptober.  

The show was at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and for those of you unfamiliar, the convention center is a massive 1.5 million square foot facility that sits on 8 acres, overlooking the southern shoreline of the Allegheny river. I watched in complete amazement as LUXE creative turned this huge venue, used for things from cheerleading competition to anthrocon conventions, into a space specifically created for Gucci himself. If you could imagine a space that was made for Gucci to perform in your head, it would be exactly what LUXE created.  If I could describe the all-around vibe, the word of the night would’ve been HUSTLE, it was thick in the air. Everyone had a job to do and everyone was doing it, and doing it well (LL pun intended.)

Some of the city’s biggest artist opened the stage, Latia, Hardo, & Jimmy Wopo got the crowd hype for Gucci’s entrance, and when he finally came out…. HE SHUT IT DOWN. It was almost surreal to see him on stage, I grew up on Gucci and it was an entirely different experience to hear that same music live, to be able to vibe to the music with hella people who feel the exact same way about it that you do. The photographers pit became a claustrophobic's worst nightmare, as the crowd began to push the rail forward, it felt less like we were in our own space and more like we were shooting right from the middle of the front row. But what’s work with no challenge? It made the energy that much crazier. Needless to say, it was all worth it. Gucci killed his set and gave us the show we all expected, I got my shots. (Lost a lens cap though lol)

A lot of artist create a lot of buzz, or spend some time away and come home to disappointed crowds who expect an artist they didn’t get. This was in no way the case, Gucci came back like he never left. In the midst of all this, making an already unforgettable night even better, Gucci brought Cameron Kirkland a.k.a @TheCamKirk on IG. He's one of my favorite photographers and an artist I have a lot of respect for so it only added to the night.

The show exceeded my best expectations, from the crowd, to the production, the opening artist, the venue itself and of course the main event.  Gucci truly put on a show for the Burrgh.

 

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A Night of Symphonic Hip Hop Featuring Common at Heinz Hall

What do you do when you get the chance to shoot a concert for one of Raps most prolific artists in a venue that houses almost 3,000 people and is home to one of the most respected symphonies in the country? You do that shit… And you kill it.

When I walked into Heinz Hall, I was blown away by its size. With 24 carat gold details throughout the building, two 15 ft. chandeliers 2,000lbs a piece hung from the ceilings & a very "grand" auditorium in every sense of the word. So when I say it was LIT, I mean it with all puns intended.

The Pittsburgh Symphony along with Activist, Actor and all around artist Common would almost seem like a dream.  It’s such a humbling experience to be able to go to these amazing venues, to shoot artist I respect and grew up listening to is something I’ll never get over. When Kiki from Wamo and Nice2Media hit me up about this opportunity I knew I had to take it, and it was worth every minute.

Common killed the stage, the first thing I noticed was my man’s shoes, I don’t know what he was wearing or who makes them but they were clean. Being a rap artist in a venue that normally caters to a “different” audience, I didn’t know how it would work, but it did and they meshed perfectly. You could hear every instrument perfectly and they didn’t miss a beat. It was an experience like nothing else. 

Common's ability to be an unapologetically black man in a setting that is outside of what one might consider a “comfort zone” spoke for itself, his interaction with the crowd made it so much more personal than a lot of shows I’ve seen. Common, is someone we can all admire, seeing him do his thing reminded me of a lyric he spit. “I was born by a lake, chicken shack, and a church/ That mean the flow got wings and it come from the dirt.”   

This mans charm, poetry, and pure lyrical genius, took him to a position that allows him to perform for thousands of people at a time, each one of them rapping his lyrics word for word, with a full symphony behind him. Shit was crazy, you don’t know where life is going to take you. But there I was, shooting all of it with a 6d & a 24-70, hoping what I shot would be able to capture a fraction of what the experience was like. 

Check out the shots and let me know what you think, I think it was pretty cool.

Written by

 

Tye Thomas

 

Poet/Writer

Diploma in Nursing

"Wanna smoke before?"

 

Burgh Boyz Ep 8 with Nick Colletti

Nick Colletti stopped by the Burgh Boyz to give an interview and drop an exclusive freestyle Live On-Air! Q came by and joined him on the couch and it got super lit.

Lots of bud in the air, hella jokes, and some really cool people. The conversation was great and it was a holiday so they put some food on the grill and banged out.

Check out the photos below and watch the official recap video shot by me and edited by Daniel Kelly