Having a Healthy Obsession for Ownership, Avoiding Racial-Gatekeeping, Implementing “R&D”, and Protecting My Brand Identity

Your self-image is so powerful it unwittingly becomes your destiny. — Oscar Micheaux

I wasn’t raised in a family that prioritized climbing up the corporate ladder as both of my parents were business owners who encouraged self-education and building yourself up to the point of having a strong abundance mentality. I’ve never once had a desire to work for someone else so that I can claim that I have a “real job” and when I freelance, my terms of service are either followed per a proposal that’s been given to accept by the other party or I decline the client’s contract. If I need to supplement my income with a part-time position, I do, however, I don’t allow another company to become a plantation when their best interest is to keep me working in the field and not preparing me to own the house. Just because I can get three square meals, a bed, and free access to a gym in prison does not mean that I want to live there longer than I have to. I once asked a close friend whether he was comfortable with working at his demanding job well into his late thirties and I was disheartened when he answered “yes”. The most successful people that I know would say “no” in less than a millisecond of having the same question posed and it was his response that terrified me into a healthy fear of failure. Which is different than an unhealthy fear that’s brought upon by crippling anxiety. A healthy fear will let me learn from my mistakes if I were to have a setback and form a solution based on what I’ve learned from a process of trial-and-error.

I benefit from the privilege that my father worked hard for me to have, and while this knowledge provides an incentive to show sympathy toward those who had to start from a smaller mountain top by assisting them in whatever way I can, I’ve recently been withdrawn from doing so outside of my small circle because of the constant negativity that’s projected. I liken it to Neo in ‘The Matrix’ and this aforementioned protagonist pulling those out of the simulation when they display the yearning for more. You can’t discuss another world with someone who has no interest in what’s outside of their safe haven. It can be soul-crushing to have to cut off friends or family who you’ve known for a decade or two, but absolutely necessary when they transform into energy vampires when you speak something of another language around them and possibly become killers of ambition that’s responsible for “making a dent in the universe”. In the words of Jim Rohn: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

As I reach the age of twenty-eight in roughly two more days of writing this article, one of my biggest revelations is that adults are all adolescents with more responsibilities, increasingly outrageous bills to pay that unknowingly support parasitic societies, and social pressure from hypocritical tribes surrounding them that are bent on enforcing their idealized methods of self-preservation onto our species. So many of my peers and colleagues have had their dreams shredded by machines built to squeeze every last bit of individuality that doesn’t serve the system they hold up like pillars. The survivors who thrived are considered unorthodox, eccentric, or shamed using any thread of controversy, whether small or long. Especially by their own people, and in Black culture, we call these “crabs in a bucket”. Some of them are more obvious than others but are equally dangerous if paid attention to. Even the notion of “owning what you labor” or anti-capitalistic rhetoric has less to do with your happiness and more to do with “sharing the wealth” instead of strategically using it to eradicate the root cause of struggling. Contrary to the popular belief, individuals of non-Black races that have amassed a large amount of money do not lift up their own. Based on my observations, they help those who did not stand in their way or are determined to be a better version of themselves.

I’m not concerned about what’s in the next man’s pockets and what he’s doing with his spare change or what ethnicity owns that majority percentage of what in America. I’ve met various humans from different walks of life and I refuse to be close-minded. When I say that I am Pro-Black, that simply means I’m for the advancement of my culture, highlight our talented creators, employing the finest of us, and would like to act as a mentor for those rising within it. It does not mean that I will consciously choose to limit who I form interpersonal relationships or associate with based on ethnic background. The enlightenment that a stranger can bring is not dependent on their skin color and I’ve grown past blind hatred for beneficiaries of deceased oppressors. As the traditional saying goes: “Anyone can get it”. If we are “brothers from another mother”, then I’ll have no problem with that person. If they pose a threat, I will deal with it accordingly, regardless of the generation that the critic was born.

Throughout my teen years, I produced a lot of music that I have removed because as an artist, I did not own the instrumentals that my lyrics molded into songs. They were leased and holding exclusive rights did not account for other artists who paid for the latter, so I decided to hire music producers for tracks under the condition that all parties could do as they pleased with the musical compositions, similar to the agreement Melvin Van Peebles made with then-unknown American band ‘Earth, Wind, and Fire’ during the filming ‘Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song’. Fred Williamson paid James Brown a modest amount for a score to 1973’s ‘Black Caesar and received no royalties himself. Along with retaining rights to what I serve as an executive producer, I would also obtain the project file(s) and stems. After seeing the plethora of artists in the Hip-Hop & Rap industry be taken to court by estates over the smallest of samples, I understood that I needed to shape my hobby as a source of income into a legitimate business and treat it as such. It became important to me as a creator to own everything that I released. I couldn’t care less about the bits and pieces that were legally provided to me being recycled by those who shared the same rights as long as my projects were covered. GameCargo represents the enigma that is my brain and I want to monetize what it imaginatively conjures up.

To make ends meet, as I’ve stated previously, I did freelance, and one thing that I kept in mind at all times to do is to take my clients off of the platforms that I used to cut out the middle man and decrease the duration that I would need to wait for payments to clear. Which could be as long as two weeks. While some clients were uneasy about lacking the protection of a platform, others preferred it because they had fewer fees to pay. Websites such as Freelancer, Fiverr, and Upwork disincentivize this, of course, as what I did/do removes their opportunity to charge for connecting us. It has nothing to do with safety, as they will typically claim. I strongly believe that it’s foolish to solely rely on an external platform for revenue, given how they can modify their website, behave toward you as if you’re an employee, and affect your traffic as a freelancer. On these websites, you can go from making five thousand a month to a few hundred dollars depending on how they are laid out and updated. With a biased rating system that you have zero say over its functionality and little-to-no protection, there isn’t a single reason why you should be loyal to corporations that wouldn’t survive without your unwavering cooperation.

Moving forward, I will have a strict dress code that will shy away from being a model of other brands and replacing what I wear with my own merchandise, if not basic attire that’s fitting for the occasion at hand. We market what’s worn on our body and the more respected that we are, the more value is added to these designers’ products. I don’t own any shares of Nike, Converse, Gucci, or, Armani, so why would I advertise them when I’m not getting paid to? The same approach to representation goes for my opinions and the tendency of millions to freely state their own on the internet. I used to post many paragraphs in comment sections on forums and social media like Facebook until I realized that the habit is a waste of time. Those same opinions could be articles, podcasts, or books. We do so because of the dopamine rush that receiving a thumbs-up or heart emoji may bring. Seeking the validation that it brings is a distraction and proves to aid in procrastination. The busiest say what they want to when there’s a goal that furthers their mission, and now, after I do, I “post and ghost” to better disregard immature reactions. Outside of a film review or two, I’ve found myself posting or tweeting a lot less because there’s always a task that needs to be completed.

Not too long ago, I left a colleague’s podcast as his co-host due to the lack of respect that I received, among several other reasons that I will not disclose at moment, and I learned that I needed to be more meticulous about how I allow myself to be portrayed or treated as a personal brand in media. I’ve never had an issue with calculating my value to determine my worth as a contributor to someone else’s platform and what confirmed my suspicions of absent gratitude was being told as a backhanded compliment that an episode that was recorded behind my back, did not have the same amount of energy that it would if I was involved.

It was indeed time to part ways and grow from the experience. There isn’t any deep-seated ill-will on my end and I wished everybody who participated in the show as regulars with us my best of luck. To quote Michael Corleone in ‘The Godfather Part III’: “Friendship and Money: Oil and Water”. I had decided to give my energy as a host toward ‘Black Grindhouse’ and preserve my thoughts for appearances that benefited the progression of GameCargo. I love organic back-and-forth between myself in a group, but I do also understand why some people prefer controlled interviews or environments that they can prepare for. I’m frustrated when logic is momentarily thrown out of the window for the sake of clickbait as a man who loves engaging in intelligent debate and I will not volunteer in a circus to be annoyed by clowns that respond to anything that I say that they don’t understand with “So what you’re really saying is…”

I continually set to distance GameCargo from other companies and implement R&D, an abbreviation that is commonly known as “research and development”, but will stand for “Rip-Off and Duplicate” in instances where you take a concept to improve upon it. We’ve all heard the phrase “Everything is a Remix” by Kirby Ferguson and hopefully you have read the book ‘Steal Like an Artist’ by Austin Kleon if you’re an entrepreneur. I’ve borrowed concepts from others and they have from me. You will get farther by studying your competition and jotting down what works for them, or implementing what you gravitate toward, in your own work. Geniuses don’t reinvent the wheel, they give it a new purpose. The best ending that I had written for a story as a screenwriter was actually inspired by an ending to one of my favorite martial arts movies starring Donnie Yen. The average viewer would not recognize this because I switched the fates of the protagonist and antagonist, among other small events of the chain. Not only did my altered conclusion speak volumes about these characters it also provoked the discussion of morality, civilian casualties, and the problem with normalizing vigilantism.

Digital products that are easily accessible by the public due to the distribution of impressively clever internet pirates costing our company revenue isn’t a concern as I appreciate the illegal avenue of acquiring copies of anything because it increases word-of-mouth marketing and I would be a hypocrite to condemn what allowed me to be exposed to various forms of art or mind-blowing entertainment. However, it would be foolish of me to ignore the concept of supply and demand. Despite a project’s quality, its value is lessened by the fact that very little effort or investment was put into experiencing it and that’s why I protect what GameCargo releases. For the benefit of my creative mind and others alongside me. If someone really wants to judge a leak, bootleg, or project without supporting the creators behind it, while there are security measures in place to make it difficult, I don’t sweat over the possibility.

As we see the powerhouse that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe become a multibillion-dollar franchise, several creators and artists of these characters have surfaced with complaints that all stem from their lack of ownership. From Ed Brubaker to Declan Shalvey, there has been no short of debates engaged by both sides of the coin that is capitalism and communism. I agree that what’s created for a company should belong to them if the contract discloses that clause and you signed it. Yes, a lot of contracts are predatory. That’s why it’s important to know your value as a creator and make sure that you are compensated in various circumstances. Even Quentin Tarantino was recently sued by the film studio Miramax for selling his screenplay of ‘Pulp Fiction’ as an NFT (Non-fungible token).

Ciro Nieli, the creator and executive producer of ‘Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!’, jokingly said that he might change the names of the show’s characters and designs to get away with developing a graphic novel that would serve as a finale to the animated series’ cliffhanger...because Disney fully owns the rights to this specific work of his.

Then you have Dan O’Neill’s 1930’s underground comic called ‘Air Pirates Funnies’. A series that challenged copyright law through parody and was met with a lawsuit by Walt Disney Productions, a company that is hypocritically known for mostly adapting intellectual properties in the public domain. I highly recommend reading Bob Levin’s ‘The Pirates and the Mouse’. Although Disney had successfully won its case, O’Neill defied the court’s judgment, and the media conglomerate settled the matter as they were unable to recoup their $190,000 in damages and $2,000,000 in legal fees. This famous legal battle is regarded as an unprecedented win against the corporate giant, however, while I understand the stance that Dan O’Neill took, it was a quite risky one, to say the least. He insisted upon not changing the names of the characters that were being parodied because it would “dilute” the point, but it helped show that perhaps using another’s property as a basis in conception is a safer route to go. After all, ‘Robocop’ and ‘Darkman’ would not exist if their creators were given the rights to ‘Judge Dredd’ and ‘Batman’, as they had originally optioned for.

In the future, GameCargo will be expanding immensely and we will keep preserving our integrity by making sure that our brilliantly artistic creators own the rights to their original work and have the option of becoming completely independent if requested. Our house will never be a place of confinement. We are an abandoned mansion filled with beautifully deranged brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles in a reality show with a live studio audience.

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