The truth is, I've noticed him the moment he stepped into the studio.
Coiffed black hair with a strand of curl on the forehead, a decisively old fashioned look. Soft eyes and youthful plump cheeks that are reminiscent of a young Elvis. Those lips, revealing so much even when no words are uttered, either pursed, licked, bitten down or curled up into a shy but radiant smile.
He's just not like the others. Quiet, unassuming and shy, he willingly fades into a crowd. But when the music starts to play, in whatever form and through whatever medium, he comes alive. A quietly hummed tune, some random sample with an interesting rift, or just fingers tapping rhythmically on a surface, watch as his eyes light up and a smile bloom on his face. The joy is infectious, enveloping everyone around him with a warm glow.
Most musicians have a tough time transitioning when they first join a major record company, he was no different. There were long nights of editing and rewrites, followed by criticism and rejections from the managers. It was disheartening, watching the light in his eyes dims and the bubbly personality become more subdued. Being a sensation in the underground KR&B circle long before recruitment, he's used to the freedom and unrestricted reign of his own creativity.
But he learned, little by little, with every visit to the LA studio, how to morph his style and adjust to expectations. And he made new friends along the way, formed crews that shared the same passion and loved hanging out together.
He's fated to succeed and shine, with a youthful optimism that overcomes the sting of defeat. In an open-top convertible, with Anderson Paak’s Silicon Valley drifting out of the stereo, laughing and joking next to Crush as they coast through the windy highway of Malibu, that's how he's meant to live.
And sometimes, in the backseat of the convertible, I sit quietly and happily cheer him on.
Sometimes I capture random moments in his life that are unassuming, but endearing in their raw state. Eating churros on the street with friends, swinging to the music at cakeshop after another exhausting performance, or just an innocent silly face on a sunny day.
It all seems so obvious to me, all my close-up shots at each performance, all the candid photos carefully documenting his life. A half glance, a listless wave of his hand, the slightest grin right before he turns around. Everything I capture is transmitted digitally, over and over until it seems to reach every corner of the world. My quiet observation of him is exposed for all to see.
But to my relief, nobody thinks about the one behind the camera. Nobody knows how my heart races still, every time he looks into the camera.
And he's never asked.
cairistiona you are it :)