“The Wire” is a masterpiece of pop culture. Creating almost a cult following in its five years of HBO production, the show tackled some extremely important topics in American urban culture. I watched every episode of the show almost glued to the television in anticipation. As I mourn the loss of new episodes, I have pondered over the lessons that I can use for singing.
1) You’re only as good as your product.
Brother Mouzone: “What got you here is your word and your reputation…Without it, you’re done.” In this hustle, your product is your voice. Your product may not be that much different from your competitor’s product. Am I right sopranos? When your business relies on word of mouth and the product – all you have is your reputation.
2) It’s all about who you know.
Omar: “All in the game yo, all in the game.” (You knew that quote was coming right?) In “The Wire” the line from a drug-selling corner kid to the Mayor of Baltimore City is very short. The opera world is just as well-connected as Smalltimore. Remember, we are all connected in wildly different ways. You’re never more than seven degrees away from the person that is dealing the cards. So, stop thinking so much about your dreams and start playing the game.
3) Build your empire.
Clay Davis: “Crawl, walk, and then run.” Take a look at the diagram above. Now, take a hypothetical look around at your colleagues. All three types are running rampant in the field. To be a true hustler you need to do the work and then do the talk. All in true balance. Start with your strengths and then leverage, leverage, leverage.
4) Control your empire – or, “A man must have a code.”
D’Angelo: “If anybody asks you if in you in this game, you tell ’em you in it for life, a’ight?. You play it hard, you play it tight, and you make sure niggas know you gonn’ stand by your people. No loose talk, no second thoughts and no snitching. Play it like that.”
This game isn’t for everyone. Stand by those people who gave you every break along the way. Stay strong in your pursuit. Finally, I know this one is difficult for singers, but think of your mouth as a tool for singing and self-promotion. Your mouth will only work against you when you use if for gossip and rumors.
Teach yourself how to hustle while you wait. State’s Atty. Ilene Nathan: “Mr. Little, how does a man rob drug dealers for eight or nine years and live to tell about it?” Omar: “Day at a time I suppose?”
Take it from the kings on the street – a day at a time.
- On Hustling (psychologytoday.com)
- HBO’s ‘The Wire’ topic of class at Johns Hopkins (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- The Wire prompts Baltimore university course (cbc.ca)
[…] our handy diagram from the “Hustling” essay? A person that does a lot of talking without a lot of work is a charlatan. The person that […]
[…] in this area? Well, I do live a few blocks from David Simon’s home and I believe that the Wire was the best show ever broadcast on television. And, yes, being in Baltimore was part of what […]