Losing my edge

Philip Morgan

This interview with LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy is great. It has two obvious takeaways, the first about fear and failure as a creative. That's worth hearing (especially from someone responsible for a #1-charting record), but the second takeaway is the one I'd like to explore with you today.

Here's the relevant (WhisperAI-transcribed) section from the interview:

So that's where I started a record company, I started building a studio and I started becoming aggressive and started like engaging culture which was fun. I'd never really engaged culture, I'd always been like, if there was a bunch of people in New York City who seemed cool, I would just be sour grapes about it, I'd be very like I don't want to go to that place, it's lame, all those people and they all think they're so cool.

I'd just be really bitter and I decided why don't I just go and see if 10% of those people are fun, just like every other 10% of every group of people are pretty alright, 90% of most groups of people are kind of terrible, but like 10%, so I started going to different types of things and meeting different people and started throwing parties and all of a sudden I was kind of cool, which I'd never been in New York, I'd just always been like a total, not even an outsider, just sort of a nobody, just sort of invisible, sad, kind of shy and all of a sudden I was DJing and I felt cool and I threw parties.

A short series of questions I'd propose:

  1. Is your professional network good enough? (If yes, GOTO END and maybe this will be the day you get to inbox zero, champ!)
  2. What would "engaging culture" look like for your business focus?
  3. Why have you not been engaging culture? Or not engaging it as fully as you might?
  4. Why have you really not been engaging culture? :)

I love Murphy's honesty about why he wasn't engaging culture: a bad excuse based on prejudice. Speaking of prejudice...

Here's a talk from KRS-One that's also very worth a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9GrwKqRCgE. The entire talk is a wild, enjoyable ride; here is the relevant section:

I'm telling you something that y'all not gonna get for another five years. I'm enjoying it now but others are gonna wait five more years until they figure this one out and you know what it has to do, it has to do with your prejudice. That's why it's gonna take so long. Because that's what it's all about.

If you look in the face of a white man or woman and you think they're trying to exploit you, you will lose.

If you look in the face of a black man or black woman and you think they have nothing to offer your corporation but hand skills, you will lose.

If you're afraid of Mexicans coming across your border, you will LOSE!!

The new paradigm is about understanding culture; understanding why these people are so real.

Prejudice will destroy your business life. You already knew that but now you have articulation for it...Being able to look past a person's appearance and have a conversation to find out who that person is is your greatest asset.

Have I missed out on opportunities in business and life because I pre-judged the people I'd have to interact with as somehow beneath me (or “above” me, or terrible people, or too “corporate”, or whatever)? Yes.

Have you?

Has this held us back from good, solid opportunities?


In that interview, James Murphy mentions the song "Losing My Edge". It's a delightful tune -- a sort of humorous dirge for the death of personal hip-ness. It sounds like a late-career lament, and I did not know until recently that it's actually from a very early LCD Soundsystem record.

The song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xG4oFny2Pk

And again a link to the interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYCz06bS380