When we caught up the homie Max Gibson, co-founder of the Bay Area and Los Angeles-based website wineandbowties.com, he was in the middle of a story about his most recent excursion to New York City. He used his visit to scout the city for potential venues to host one of the many Wine and Bowties events as well as catch up with old friends alongside his business partner Will Bundy. As a blog about music, arts, and culture, W & B is a publication that surveys the “peculiar and extraordinary” in hopes of illuminating its own unique perspective.
As he began to talk about one of his closest childhood friends, a sense of reverence came over him as he smiled and began to remember how grateful he was to be mentored by his friend who was a year ahead of him at Head Royce, a private school in Oakland that he attended from kindergarten through high-school.
Gibson reminisces: “Its just funny, man. I still do in a different degree, but when we were in elementary and middle school, I used to look up to this cat! He was the one who put me up on Jordans, he was the one who put me up on waves, he was the one who put me up on damn near hella shit I perceive to be cool at the time.”
He describes how grateful he was for the presence and example of this particular role model because he was “the only other black bruh (student) that [he] could identify with at the HR (Head Royce) house.”
“I was eager to carve my own path.”
Regardless of the impact of his mentor, the career trajectory of Max and the guy he admired for so many years could not be more divergent. His mentor is heavily embedded in the corporate realm, yet Max has decided to take on a more traditionally creative path. When asked why he hadn’t gone the corporate route as his mentor has done, he explained, “I was eager to carve my own path.”
Indeed, Max isn’t interested in blazing his own trail for egotistical reasons; he is more interested in the power of example: “The own path is important because it allows people to see it and it creates more avenues for others to forge their own paths.”
The most glaring example of that, he says, is the impact Kanye West has made on the cultural aesthetics of Hip-hop simply by being his authentic self. Kanye West’s has been able to come in the insular world of Hip-hop and “open up the flood gates” and rejected all of the limitations that confined Hip-hop artists to an often one-dimensional archetype.
“Kanye comes through and he wears clothes that fit. Then, Lupe Fiasco comes through, and Kid Cudi comes through!” For Max, the power of Kanye’s example is what inspired and allowed for other artists like Lupe and Cudi to portray themselves, as themselves. “He has been able to influence hella change,” he continued. “That’s why it is important to do your own thing.”
“The own path is important because it allows people to see it and it creates more avenues for others to forge their own paths.”
As the conversation continues, he suggests, as an example, that had he perhaps pursued an instrument like the violin and gained some notoriety for itr–even as a mediocre performer. The result of another child witnessing that pursuit is more impactful.
He says, “by doing that and getting love for that, maybe there is some kid out there who is actually dope at the violin, but he thinks Iranian kids don’t play the violin. [Perhaps] he doesn’t pursue it; rather, he’s focuses on the math.”It is at that moment that Max suspects artists are most relevant. The impact on the young person who may otherwise be discouraged from pursuing a talent that they have the potential to be successful with. The impact of a kid seeing others succeeding at their chosen craft, could be the spark that gives another talented young person the confidence necessary to “become the greatest.”
Wine & Bowties promotes “thoughts on the peculiar & extraordinary” in hopes of living by it’s mantra of carving one’s own path and eventually inspiring others to do the same. As a major tenet of its founding is “making the wanders of the world a little bit more accessible” through the facilitation of thought, Wine & Bowties operates on the premise that anything can be dope if viewed through the appropriate lens.
The artists, dancers, athletes, writers, photographers, spectators, etc. that grace the pages of W & B are those that “tap into the boundless potential of human creativity.” And with good reason. The power of example to evoke inspiration. Perhaps, just as he did as a would-be violinist, he hopes to use his platform to encourage others to pursue their goals and get out their dreams. Thank God for your own path. Thank God for Hip-hop.
*This is Hip-hop’s Word::Govern your Life accordingly.