I’ve been the owner of a website to support indie hip-hop for seven years as of January 2017. As many of you know, I created the site as a medium to keep supporting local and indie music after I left my college radio station due to graduation. That means I’ve been employed full time with co-workers for going on seven years now. In that time I think I’ve told a handful of my co-workers about my secret identity as an indie hip-hop writer. Balancing a job with your passion is difficult. The late nights you spend working on your dream can affect your output at the job that funds your dreams. Also it can be annoying when your co-workers find out your hobbies outside of work as that will be the only thing they’ll bring up when talking to you five days a week.
I applaud anyone who has taken the leap to be a full time artist, writer, or entrepreneur because it’s a jump I’m going to make in the near future. I know many of you reading this have thought about it or you’re currently balancing a day job (maybe two or three) with your dream. For Richard Croce, alias MC Bravado, he gets to fulfill two separate dreams at the same time. Bravado is an English teacher in a Baltimore City school by day and a hip-hop artist by night. He was recently featured in the local news for balancing the two dreams at the same time.
I had the chance to chat with Bravado recently about his work ethic and the difficulty of balancing a full time job with chasing a dream.
Joe Hova: Personally I don’t want my co-workers knowing that I have a side hustle in the music industry. Did you ever want your co-workers or students to find out? Did they react the way you expected them to?
MC Bravado: Man, I lived a double life for a really long time, and it was kind of exhausting. I also felt like I was being lukewarm to people because I wasn’t being entirely open with them. Eventually, with some moderate success, people on both sides began to find out, and I was almost forced to embrace it. I’m glad I did because it’s resulted in better relationships with students and co-workers, making for a more pleasant work environment. Feeling like you’re hiding something can really weigh on you creatively, so I’m honestly glad the floodgates opened.
JH: What is a day in the life for you as a teacher and an MC? Do you have to divide your time into blocks to get work done and to create music?
MCB: I’m constantly running on fumes. Most of my colleagues get a little more sleep than I do and aren’t on any weekend flights/extensive road trips only to be back in the classroom on Monday morning, and if they are out of town, it’s usually for pleasure as opposed to “work.” I need to abide by a rigid, OCD-esque type schedule to get anything meaningful done because the plate is always so full. I think it’s difficult for people to empathize with because for most it’s work, gym, dinner, friends/family time, work around the house, errands, rinse/repeat. When you essentially add another full time job to an already hectic equation, you have to be meticulous with scheduling and setting/achieving both short and long term goals.
JH: How difficult is it to balance a professional career while also chasing a dream?
MCB: I think what makes balancing a career with a professional career so difficult, specifically teaching in my case, is that as a teacher, we take so much work home. I teach English, so if I assign an essay, we are talking about hundreds of pages of critiquing with rationale and extensive grading. It’s less black and white than other subjects which is part of the reason why I love it. However, said gray area also presents challenges kind of unique to my subject matter. Ultimately, my work never really “ends”; I don’t clock out at a certain time. There is always substantial planning and grading in general to do. Admittedly, I fall behind sometimes as a result, and people will tell me how tired I look (which I always liken to a more polite/veiled way of saying “you look like s**t”). At least now, they have a better idea of why. I never let it compromise my efficacy with the students, but the music hustle will be the reason why I may have missed a certain faculty meeting or skipped a camaraderie building event (happy hour) with coworkers. I’m also forced to take time off sometimes, for events like SXSW or A3C, which then results in having to work on days I’m actually sick and appearing disheveled and battered and bruised because I legitimately am. Finally, others have forewarned me to filter my content a bit more and watch what I say, but you don’t judge Scorsese for violent and profane films, so don’t judge me for being a different kind of storyteller.
I want to give a big thanks to Bravado for taking the time to shine a light on what it’s really like to be an artist with a dream and a day job. It’s not for the weak or those who give up on things easily. You have to practice patience and celebrate all of the small wins as they lead to major accomplishments. If you’re interested in booking him for a guest verse or his PR services, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Hip-Hop* album is available for stream on all major platforms as well.