#TheUniversalTax: The Gift of Failure
Things in Atlanta weren’t as easy as K’La anticipated. “In a city like Atlanta, everyone has a hustle and they all claim they can help you. Regular people say they have labels but don’t,” she says. “You have to be very careful.” And K’La learned the hard way just how real it could get.
Within a year, she and her two young daughters were homeless, and that’s when K’La had to make another tough decision: would she abandon her dreams and retreat back to Gary, or figure out how to make it work? “I’ve always had a very close relationship with my daughters. One of the most difficult things for me was [the decision to] send them back.”
With her children safely back in Gary, it was far from party time. While sleeping on friends’ couches and sharing motel rooms with her friend Shayna, K’La became more focused than ever. “I became aggressive business-wise. It was difficult to leave them but, if anything, it gave me more drive. If they were going to grow up without me there everyday, it was going to have to be worth it.”
K’La’s sacrifice paid off one night when she showed up at a party. She was there to network (and eat free food) when she had a chance encounter with Producer/A&R Anthony Tate. “I had never met anyone like her, I knew right there she was going to be a star. But it just made me more protective of her, she was instant little sister.”
With a manager in place, K’La began recording her well-received debut mixtape, featuring the track “All Your Luv,” which contained a Lauryn Hill sample. “When it came time to clear the sample, we sent the song to Ms. Hill, and everyone kept telling us that she doesn’t clear anything,” Anthony says proudly, “But she cleared this, easy.”
Her journey is far from over, but that isn’t my point. K’La could’ve given up two years ago–separated from her daughters, bouncing from couch to couch in a foreign city hundreds of miles from home. She could’ve listened to her naysayers, criticizing her decisions, but then where would she be?
Today we’re sitting in the 7th floor conference room at Def Jam, where K’La is now signed. She’s here promoting her new single “Blame” featuring Nas. “I am a young, single mother. I was never supposed to be here.”
How many of us can say the same thing about ourselves? After becoming homeless with her children, K’La could’ve proclaimed her mission a failure, being “reality checked” by those who didn’t see the vision. How many times have our loved ones said “just come home” or “maybe you should try something else” or even “what makes you think this is going to work?” How many of us have let our dreams become sidelined by failure?
K’La saw her failure just for what it was: a gift. Often when things don’t go as planned, what’s really happening is an opportunity for growth. A door must close in order to force you to figure out how to open a new one. Failure is simply the process of stripping away what doesn’t work. It’s learning who you are, in real time.
“I believed the vision I had for my music. When nobody else believed, I believed.”
There is no greater gift and better fuel than that.–JasFly