Generation Y's New Age Hustle, Part 2
Millennials often get a bad rap for being spoiled and self-indulgent. But today's 20-somethings are far from lazy. Meet five young artists, entertainers and entrepreneurs who are redefining what it means to work toward a dream.
''When an opportunity knocks,'' Malachi says, '' I hire Smart Chicks to answer.''
Multi-task and make it work
Malachi's friend and colleague, Christon ''Christylez'' Bacon likes to use an old-school expression to describe his approach to work: ''There's more than one way to skin a cat.''
Over the years, this self-proclaimed ''progressive hip-hop artist and D.C. native,'' has found creative ways to move past the struggles of his childhood. Navigating the city's arts scene like a modern-day bard, the 24-year-old multi-instrumentalist has become something of a fixture in the Chocolate City. His Web site calendar boasts a continuous circuit of appearances, concerts, musical workshops and library tours in and around D.C. For these, he uses beatboxing, the guitar, a West African djembe drum, ukulele and spoons to weave in storytelling and hip-hop with sounds from traditionally disparate genres.
But, growing up, Bacon says he had a limited perspective of his hometown. Life in his neighborhood was often violent; his family was once evicted and shuffled around from shelter to shelter. His mother, a single parent with a disability, had to depend on public assistance to support the family. From her, Bacon learned ingenuity: Once, he says, she turned a milk crate into a basketball hoop so that he could play ball.
There was a time he barely knew the city beyond the Southeast quadrant where he grew up, but Bacon's rapidly expanding career has taken him beyond the borders of the capital city. With a solo album, Advanced Artistry already under his belt, he received a 2009 Grammy nod for his work on the children's album Banjos to Beatboxdone in collaboration with musicians Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer. This year, he also completed his debut theatrical performance, In Pursuit of Me, at the Atlast Theater in D.C.
Somehow, while juggling a thinly spread schedule, Bacon has managed to master everything from bookkeeping to Web site graphics to press and promo designs. He's a classic case of what Murray describes as Millennial multitasking.
''Usually, if I want something done,'' Bacon states plainly, ''I study it, I learn it, and I do it.'' As he sees it, he's a one-man musical conglomerate: Christylez Productions, LLC.
Work in progress
I'll admit, the headlines so far have been half right: Gen Y's work ethic is markedly different from those who've gone before us. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.