DJ Stephens: Thoughts About Life

The mind is a beautiful thing but it can be really tricky too. As a black man, it’s not too common to be open and express your emotions, or to just open up and talk about things you may be going through or struggling with. I think many shy away from it because of what they were taught growing up or maybe simply because they feel they may be judged by others or called soft or weak. I mean I can only speak from personal experience and things I observe. Personally, I like keeping things personal and deal with them on my own. Probably partially cause of the way I am and partially because of the reasons I mentioned above. With everything that black men face everyday, and not just black men but black people period, it’s not healthy to battle some of the things that we do, and never speak to anyone about it. I’m just going to be honest, I’m a professional athlete, yes I make more money than the average person, and yes people probably think my life is glamorous and in some ways it is, but life can be hard, and really stressful at times. I don’t think anybody goes into situations looking for stress but it seems to always find you, no matter where you are. Life is life, and it comes with the potential for anything to happen, whether it’s good or it’s bad, but at the end of the day you can only control what you can control. I’ve dealt with enough in my 26 years of life to last a lifetime, and at times I thought I was just unhappy with my situation or life at the time, but looking back now, some of the symptoms that go with what I was dealing with, were symptoms of depression. Was I depressed? I don’t think so, I’ve been through a lot in life and I’ve always tried to find the positives in the situation to help me get through it. People deal with and battle all kind of mental struggles everyday but are too afraid to talk to someone and get help. Now that I’m getting older and I view things differently, if I was to go through something that took me to a place of unhappiness or just a place that I didn’t want to be mentally, I would speak to somebody and get the help I may need. And I would encourage anybody else to do the same. It doesn’t make sense to be able to get help with something but choose not to because you’re afraid to or you feel that you may be judged because of it. Many peoples lives could’ve been saved if they might have just got the help they needed, or maybe just talked to somebody about the things they were going through.
Things seem to become more and more peaceful in certain areas of my life, but others not so much. It’s crazy and somewhat interesting how when you’re young, the decisions you make usually don’t hold much weight but as you get older, every decision you make counts and can impact you for the rest of your life. Sometimes I sit back and just think about my life. Not just my career, but personal life and things I’ve been through. No matter how small the situation or the decisions might’ve seemed at the time, they all matter. Life is pretty much a game of trial and error because many times I felt I was making the best or right decision, but it turned out being a bad one. I know there’s purpose in everything you go through in life, things help you build character, and help mold you into the person you’re supposed to become. But even at the age of 26, some things are still really puzzling to me. I know I’m not supposed to have everything figured out by now, and I’m still learning and trying to grow and mature in some areas of life but there isn’t always clarity in the purpose of the things I have to go through. They say “there’s beauty in the struggle”, but things aren’t always pretty. I just take everything in stride, try to remember the things that matter to me most and try to continue to work towards my life goals and take care of my family.
-DJ Stephens

Trav Trippin: Everybody Not a Boss

“I never seen a worker with so many jewels” – Hov


Being a Boss ain’t for everybody…

I’m a hip-hop baby! Born in the 80’s. I learned just as much from my favorite rappers, if not more, as I did from my teachers. That’s why I’m fully aware of how powerful their influence is. I know we kill the new era of rappers and this generation as a whole for being less cerebral, less concerned with substance, and less thorough… but honestly, it’s my era’s biggest stars who are to blame for it.



“What’s up Jay-z? You know you owe the truth to all the youth that fell in love with Jay-z”


Jay-z is one of my favorite rappers, but he might be the most responsible for the trend of EVERYBODY thinking they have to be a boss. Well, Him & Dame. Don’t get me wrong, ownership is a very important thing, but it became the popular thing in the world to “be a boss”, so much so that nobody wants a job anymore. Jay-z brought his hustle mentality full force into the rap game. He “out-hustled” every rapper before him. His long for music wouldn’t let him compromise the integrity of the art, but that’s not what he preached in every song. Every interview. Every freestyle. He talked that money shit. Now niggas who can’t tell you what’s 10% of 100 think they can/ should be a Boss! Not in the sense that they need to do the leg work to educate themselves, work the long hours, or take years to perfect their product… they think that by some happenstance they just shouldn’t “work for somebody else” or “get nobody else rich”. Jay-z’s (rap) children took his ambition and recycled it for themselves but they didn’t have his barriers to break down. They didn’t have to work AS hard. The music continuously became less about the art and originality and became more about getting money, or at least looking like it and talking like it. The internet only worsened this. It killed the barriers of entry. The gatekeepers. Then Hip-Hop became so dominant and so absolved of the original elements and spirit of it as it began to completely dominate culture. And so did the “Boss” mentality.


If Everybody’s a boss, who’s really working

On social media daily all you can see everybody talking about being a boss. You can talk to people who are unemployed and barely surviving that’ll tell you “I just can’t work for nobody”. It’s the craziest shit ever. But this is the Boss Culture. We’ve conditioned people to believe they ain’t shit if they not a boss. That they ain’t shit if they not rich. And I’m sick of it!!! I ran my own business for 5 years. It wasn’t the glitz and glamour that people seem to think it is. At the end of my first year, I was 30k in the red. I put 100k miles on my car in that year traveling state to state to work accounts. I might’ve had 20 home cooked meals that entire year. I missed my son’s first steps. I was driving at 12 am until 6 am to get to work at 8 am and get off at 5pm to drive more until about 8 pm. Then doing invoices to 10pm. This was a regular thing. Only to still be in the red. You don’t start a business and go straight into posting ya Wraith on the ‘gram. And businesses don’t run off dreams. If you don’t have an investor you gotta “work for somebody” and “get somebody else” rich for a while until you save up capital. It ain’t sexy. But the problem is, as Ace said at the end of Paid In Full, “I guess you don’t have to be somebody no more, you can just front like you somebody you ain’t”. I say that to say, if everybody knew what all it took to be a boss, and was doing everything it took to be a boss, I would be more ok with it. But they’re not, they won’t, and frankly… everybody can’t. Everybody not built for that type of leadership. Or that type of sacrifice. But you don’t have to be. Just make some dope tweets and some dope captions and never get a job, despite your circumstances.


Imaginary Players.

DJ Stephens: Just A Man

You live a very interesting life being an athlete, and that’s an understatement. You face many different tasks, new endeavors, and all types of adversity. Yes I’m an athlete, yes my life is different from the average person’s but at the end of the day I’m just a person no different from the rest. I face the same issues any other person faces. I’m 26 years old but I’m still learning, I’m still growing and I’m still evolving into the person I want to be, and the person I’m meant to be. I have my off days, I have my bad days, and there’s been times where I haven’t seen purpose in the things I was doing on the basketball court and in life in general. I’ve lied, I’ve made mistakes, I’ve made money and went broke that same year. I’ve hurt people, I’ve failed to fulfill promises, I’m nowhere close to perfect, I’m just a man. 
With me being just a man first, and an athlete second, I don’t understand a lot of the views from people “in positions of power” in our country. Never should a man have to pacify or keep quiet in regards to things that directly affect them if they have the platform to bring light to the situation in a peaceful manner. Too many times, people turn the other cheek or look the other way when things don’t affect them directly. There’s too many things going wrong in our country to just look the other way now, and being an athlete just gives these individuals a greater reach to millions of people. We may be athletes but we still face injustices, we still work to beat a system that wasn’t designed to benefit us, and when I say us, I mean anyone that’s a minority in this country. We have family and friends in these communities, and it seems like in 2017, we see the same news stories and headlines on tv every single day. It has to change, and it won’t change unless people are honest with themselves about what’s taking place in our country, and really try to fix the wrongs and change it for the better. It’s weird that in the year 2017, a time when you would think we would move further and further away from racism, it becomes a bigger issue day by day. We have “a leader” who isn’t really a leader, and someone who allows hatred to flow into the streets of our country, but condemns people that are actually trying to be a positive difference and create change for the better. I just don’t understand it. I just don’t understand how people can feel that all the things “our leader” does are acceptable and ok. He doesn’t fit the mold of somebody who should be responsible for a country, not the United States of America. I’m the son of a military veteran, the nephew of a military veteran, and the nephew of a great soldier that never made it home from Operation Desert Storm to see his family again. So you can’t tell me the peaceful methods that some athletes are using to bring light to this situation, and the initial stance of Colin Kaepernick are unpatriotic and disrespectful to veterans. The reason veterans do what they do for our country is so we as citizens can have the rights that we do. I just feel that people should stop trying to make the problem out to be something else, and focus in on the real issues in our country.