The Click: Makaya McCraven
In his own words, Chicago drummer Makaya McCraven looks back on the moment he decided to take a chance on himself.
When I released In the Moment, the process of creating it shaped the next few years for me. Scottie McNiece, head of the label International Anthem, and I started a music series in a small lounge space. During the same period, I was doing a lot of production, making beats of my own, but that was never part of my career – it was more of a hobby or experiment. It’s something I have been doing for years, since high school even.
One day I looked at the music I was making in my spare time and said, ‘You know what, I’m gonna sample myself’. That was a life-changing moment for me. It was a real epiphany when I realised I should be releasing the music I worked passionately on in my own time and on my own terms, not pressured by what I thought I should be doing.
Of course, those feelings of self-doubt and imposter syndrome are still a huge thing. I constantly doubt myself and question my choices. But I try to find strength in order to bear my work to the world, warts and all. It’s a challenge, but that’s OK. All artists – and anybody who is striving for excellence and mastery of their craft – are going to have to deal with those feelings. What matters is how you respond to them.
Are you going to let those feelings cripple you, or motivate you? You have to learn to have a healthy relationship with yourself as you try to grow.
“One day I looked at the music I was making in my spare time and said, ‘You know what, I’m gonna sample myself’”
I realised it was cool for me to follow my creative desires, that I shouldn’t hold myself back or be afraid of doing something, even if nobody else is doing it. I had to block out some of the outer noise and work on the music I wanted to work on, and that was inspiring to me. To expose the thing that I was doing on my own as part of my professional output, that was a powerful choice.
In the Moment was released about five years ago now, and I’ve worked as a musician since I was 19 years old. Stepping out and doing something different in search of my own voice really had the strongest benefit, both personally and professionally, and all I did was do something that I was passionate about.