What does staying true to yourself mean though? I mean, what does it mean in a pragmatic way? How can I practice "staying true to myself"?
Well, say you’re listening to a song that just hits you! This song was so dope that it made you wanna do something similar on your own. So you sit down with your producer, you ask him to make a beat kind of like that song that you heard. The beat turns out dope, so you sit down again start writing. You finish your lyrics, record the song, done! It’s almost as dope as the one you were listening to.
But guess what, that is not staying true to yourself! At least, not how I understand it. To me that is trying to be someone else. To me that is trying to rap like XYZ.
If I wanna make a song like “XYZ” because I just love it so much, means I’m not acting out of inspiration but rather out of admiration for that song, wishing to make something “just as great as this song” is copying. We all do it, and there’s nothing entirely bad about it. But it is not “staying true to yourself” or better said: “staying true to your own ideas”.
Whether or not your staying true to yourself and thus being on the path to developing your own artistic expression depends on whether or not your executing the ideas that come to you from within! Ideas that you came up with yourself!
Sometimes, I listen to music and if I really dig it, it sort of opens me up internally and makes my mind wander through infinity. And then, suddenly an idea appears! Just out of the blue, so to say.
Mostly, those kind of ideas don’t have anything to do with what I heard. I could be listening to a Marvin Gaye song and suddenly I get an idea for a rap song with a totally different topic. Or an idea for a video. Acting upon these ideas is what I call “staying true to myself”. Taking those ideas more seriously than my wish to make music like “artists XYZ” means staying true to myself. Showing just as much love and respect to the ideas that arise from my own internal world means “staying true to myself”.