Picture it. March 22, 1993. A fun ditty from 95 South drops and quickly soars to #11 on the Billboard charts. “Whoot, There It Is” is playing regularly on the radio and video channels/shows like The Box, Yo! MTV Raps and BET’s Video Soul. Suddenly, on May 7, 1993, less than two months after the release of “Whoot,” something stupefying happens. A group named Tag Team drops “Whoomp! (There it is)”.
What? But, but… How? Who does that? This is hip hop USA in the 90s. Biting is a highly condemned practice, subject to all sorts of ridicule and painful clowning. And yet, miraculously, this “Whoot, There It Is” knock-off starts to climb to the top of the charts, pounding the ever-loving shit out of the original, to the point that many only remember the Denise the Pig of Southern bass bangers.
The fact that this was an actual reality was what my dear friend reminded me of as I spoke to him about the things that prove to be impediments to me pulling the trigger on my stream of regularly flowing ideas. The second something is introduced that is even remotely close to the arena of the corners of the slivers of the idea of which I had already conceived, my response is something to the effect of, “Welp, someone’s already created a youth organization.” 🤷🏽♀️ . This friend reminded me of the degree of “fuck it” that was necessary for Tag Team to drop “Whoomp! (There it is)”. And they won.
Note that I am not advocating for the straight jacking of others’ ideas, projects, work, etc. I'm in an industry where that is an ABSOLUTE no no. Proper attribution is critical. But what we add to existing concepts may be the difference between the handheld roller gins of the 6th century in India and Eli Whitney’s 1793 cotton gin that revolutionized the cotton industry and subsequently chattel slavery and the continued savage exploitation of my ancestors. Now imagine if Whitney (assuming he was the actual inventor) had been discouraged by those existing roller gins! Wait. 😒
The point is, there is space in this world for our unique contributions, in all the forms they may take. So now when I feel ever so inclined to use a vaguely similar idea (often more like a broad ass field) as a justification for my failure to launch, I catch myself. Valle, you need to channel the sheer gall of Tag Team. Your shit is actually more John Blaze than that and isn't even really the same thing.
Let this be an instructive tale for us all. When that light bulb goes off, when you are struck with an idea for something that is original on some level, be resolute. Press on. Look at yourself in the mirror, and say, “Whoomp, there it is. I thought you knew.”