Back in 2018, we launched Best Advice, a video series where some of the most well renowned artists in the world relayed one piece of advice they’d received, a piece of advice that they’ve always taken with them that helped inform how they moved through the world, in terms of their career and otherwise.
Over the years we’ve interviewed everyone from Rick Ross, to Christina Aguilera, to Phoebe Bridgers, to The Killers, Elton John, Quincy Jones, and Karol G, and so many more. Each of them had a story attached to the advice they’d received, an anecdotal moment from their own life where these guiding words came in useful.
As a producer on Spotify for Artists, I spent a lot of time interviewing these incredible artists to extract one snappy tidbit for the video series, but I found there were so many useful takeaways, so much rich experience and perspective that was left on the cutting room floor. So we decided to create the Best Advice podcast: frank, intimate conversations with some of the most fascinating names in music. Each episode offers in-depth insights into what it's like to navigate the world of music, commerce, and creativity. Each artist shares their own advice gleaned from their successes and missteps, as well as advice they've received from mentors, collaborators, family, and confidants.
Dropping every Thursday at 10 a.m. EST, our 10-episode season will include conversations with Joey Bada$$, Hayley Kiyoko, Ashnikko, Conor Oberst, Russ, Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins, Princess Nokia, and more.
Today we’re launching with a double drop: one installment with ATL hip-hop legend Jeezy, and the other with future-pop visionary Charli XCX. Poles apart —not only in terms of the music they make, but also their journey to now — both artists offer an extremely candid look into their world as a working artist today.
Listen to the first two episodes and check out just a few of the many takeaways from Charli XCX and Jeezy below.
Highlights from Jeezy's Best Advice episode
Forgiveness is key.
I had to write down a long list of people that did me wrong and I had to go down that list and give a reason for why I will forgive each one of those people, just to give forgiveness to myself so I can move on. Having a grudge is toxic. And when you’re toxic, you give toxic energy to the people around you. You give toxic energy to your kids, your loved ones, your employees, you know your peers. I was there.
When people do you wrong and you get in your head, if somebody tell you’ll never be nothing… somebody tell you you’ll never be that rapper, that superstar, you'll never do this and that, and then you spend your whole life trying to prove that person wrong to get what they said you couldn't have. Then you get it and you’re not happy, you still lost.
Your morals and values are everything.
No matter where you get to, no matter how it goes, no matter how it comes at you — the money, fame, temptations — just don't lose your values, your morals, and your integrity because when it's all said and done, you could have a billion dollars, 10 billion, if you don't have those three things, you have nothing.
Being savvy with money is about being open minded in a space where you’re not the smarter person in the room.
You are the brand, you are the business, and when you get in a business meeting … they’re looking at ways to crunch numbers … and ways to monetize. When I started understanding what it was to know how to invest, to buy real estate, to use my likeness as leverage to be a part of a brand for equity… those conversations came by being in other rooms and talking to people that were outside of my comfort level. We as artists, we're the leaders of our pack, so it's hard for us to go look up to somebody else. For me it changed when I put my ego to the side… and just started walking in those rooms like “OK let's talk about it.” You gotta be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Highlights from Charli XCX’s Best Advice episode
Commercial success does not equate to personal success and won’t always fit into your vision as an artist.
When I stopped worrying about what people thought of who I was, I was able to find myself and I was able to find the music that I loved to make. It kind of stripped away a lot of boundaries for me. I always did have a distinct vision, but I also think I grappled with wanting commercial success and not understanding how my vision and the commercial success fit together. I grappled with that a lot and now I just don't. But it took me a second to work that out and I think that was sort of it held me back for a while. I know this is the most standard advice, but I think it's actually advice that we don't follow enough: You have to go with your gut.
Keep an open mind when working with new collaborators: you never know what could come from it.
It's important when you're young and starting off to explore different types of people. Even I have to tell myself that now, because I can definitely be a bit of a snob when it comes to who I'm going to work with for my own work. Less so if I'm writing for other people, but when it comes to my own stuff, I am very quick to judge and I'm very quick to be like, no that person isn't right for me, without even having given them a chance or met them. There's been so many situations like that where I've almost decided to pull the session, but then I've gone and that person has become one of my most long term collaborators.
Read your contracts and ask questions.
I signed when I was 16 and I didn't know what A&R stood for years and I was too afraid to ask. There's still so many things that people just assume you know. Labels have a responsibility to really make contracts clear for the people they're signing. And lawyers have a responsibility — if they’re going to take on a young client — they need to put the time in with that client and answer their questions. That's the advice: ask all the questions.