The Beginners Guide To Optimism

by Ken Masters

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This EP is a collection of material that I've recorded over the past few years that, for one reason or another, have been put on the back burner. I say for one reason or another, but really the main cause for my lack of visible productivity over the past year or so is my own mental health.
I have spent the past year coming to terms with the fact that I am not well, and have been struggling for time with anxiety and depression. The nut crushing irony is that I'm an optimist by nature. When on form, I am able to spot the positives and recognise their superiority over all that negative bullshit. But I'm not always on form. In fact my form is increasingly vacant in times of need.
Here's a story I want to share of some significance. This may seem like a tangent (it is) but bare with me and it'll come back round to the theme eventually...
Seven years ago a good friend of mine and a well loved member of the Hip Hop community in Newcastle was senselessly robbed of his life. Baz was a friend to many, the type of bloke who knew the names of everyone on the scene. Loyal to his closest friends, but equally able to parlay with people from opposing sides of a rivalry. When his light went out, the scene went dark for a long while. There was a huge gulf left by the lack of his positive spirit. There still is.
A few weeks after he passed I was over at a friends house who was holding some of Bas'z belongings for safe keeping. He showed me a pile of books and said "These are Baz's. You want any of them?"
The collection was eclectic, ranging from Iceberg Slim to I Ching. I took a few home and started to sift through them to decide what to read. One book jumped out at me. It was a book about Buddhism and science called "Destructive Emotions". There was a bookmark in it. Was this the last thing he was reading? I opened it up and was gripped by the discourse about the theory that negative emotions are quantifiable and have detrimental physical effects on us all. These were ideas that correlated with my own beliefs, and something I could whole heartedly relate to, and it felt like a connection to a sorely missed friend. I was so gripped that I wrote a song called "Destructive Emotions" (available on "This Is Not A Mixtape").
Probably before, but certainly since then I have also been fascinated with the counter to destructive emotions; hope, love and optimism, among others. Obviously when you also have a love for spitting bragadocious bars with no apology, love isn't always easy to shoehorn in (it's always present though), but I like to inject a measure of meaning, however subtle, into everything I create.
This collection of songs all mean something from start to finish, but beyond that they are a coping strategy for someone who is currently waging war against his own destructive emotions and seizing every possible chance to be the optimist I aspire to be.
Maybe you'll relate to some of what I'm saying, or maybe you'll be reaching for the sick bag. Who knows? But I will insert the obligatory "Beats are banging and rhymes are tight" disclaimer here just to address the balance and keep up the pretense.
I hope you enjoy listening to this, I do, but I didn't make this with your listening pleasure as a priority. I made it coz talking about the things that matter to me has a positive effect on my wellbeing, as well as reminding me just how dope an Emcee I am.


released April 25, 2017

Words: Ken Masters
Beats: CraftmatiK



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Ken Masters Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

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