Are You Authentic?
Michael and Pele explore the idea of authenticity from a variety of angles: in how we live our lives, do our work, pursue our passions, and make art. They talk about all the influences pulling us away from authenticity in today’s culture, and the impact, in particular, on music and art. Michael divulges his passion for Bollywood films and Pele gives some solid Pro Tip advice on staying present and freeing your mind.
[01:17] Pele Bennett: Finding what is authentic. Like that word, authentic, I think I kind of like, disappeared for a long time now. And if you really think about it, like, what does that word mean and what does it mean to you as a person? And things that you’re trying to do in life for yourself or your family, for your loved ones? I think, like, re-grounding yourself and figuring out what is authentic within your being, within your work, whatever your work is, if it’s a creative work, if it’s, you know, your job, your career, your passion, like what is authentic to you.
[01:50] Michael Bennett: But it’s interesting, though, because people don’t know it’s hard to be authentic when you have other people — and it’s kind of weird because, like, we’re at the stage in our life, if we don’t want to do something, we don’t do it. It’s okay to have that power, but sometimes I feel like as individuals we don’t want to tell people no. And then we end up doing something that doesn’t really validate who we truly are. Like we really are Manchurian Candidates. We were reading the Bible today and it was talking about like being a stranger. Asking for help. And I think a lot of us are looking in the mirror and we’re seeing a stranger, but we really don’t know how to ask for help. Like we were talking about a couple weeks ago about the value of like the NFL. What is the true value of the fan experience? At what point do you do something so much that you become it? Like, you become a character. I have this role, so I gotta have that character.
[03:12] Pele Bennett: You’re feeling the pressures of those expectations. And I feel like when you’re starting to feel pressures of expectations, you have to really go back again and figure out whose expectations are those, because sometimes you are assuming it’s, you know, someone else’s. But really it’s your own that you’re putting on yourself. And those are not, you know, achievable. You’re not going to reach those because they’re made up. You’re making up these fake expectations that nobody ever was really wanting out of you. And so now it’s like to go back and really feel like, what is it that I want for myself before, you know, taking someone else’s perceptions on?
[03:48] Michael Bennett: That’s such a profound statement that came from my wife. Y’all heard that first here on Mouthpeace. I ask everyone that question, who are you really? What do you really like? What are your true hobbies? What are the things that you really want to do in life?
[04:08] Pele Bennett: I know oftentimes I’m like, you know, we have so many thoughts and influences in our head from different sources. I think that it is important to talk it out with someone because those ideas just kind of float around in your head and just kind of stay stagnant and still and don’t have anything to come out from. It doesn’t change. Like if I read something and I don’t talk to you about it, my thought in my head could just stay the same. But if I talk with you then we’ll kind of think about it. I’m like, oh, that’s a different perspective. That’s a different idea about it. I think like sometimes, you know, coming back to your own being is to journal. Because we have so many conversations with other people. We have ideas and things that we see through the news, social media, TV, movies, music. You know, sometimes it’s like going back to the beginning and being in your own thoughts, but writing it down and just kind of journaling your thoughts on a daily basis. Just to kind of have that conversation with yourself. Sometimes you don’t need all the outside when you’re trying to get in a creative zone. You really just need yourself. And sometimes we want those outsources for people to be like, hey, like we need inspiration, and it’s like you actually don’t.
[05:22] Michael Bennett: People aren’t inspired by themselves anymore.
[05:25] Pele Bennett: Yeah, you can be inspired. Walk outside your house into a beautiful grassy area. You might get inspired from the clouds. I see that. But sometimes it’s like also trying and just being in your own self and journaling those thoughts and daily things that you’re just thinking randomly and go back into your own brain. You can be your own inspiration. You can be your own motivator to come out with your new creative whatever that is, through your work and your passion.
[05:50] Michael Bennett: That’s all true. Yesterday I accomplished a lot, people, all my listeners. But there’s only one thing that I truly enjoyed that I accomplished. Me and Pele put the bike rack on the back of the car and put the bikes on there correctly. We had been tying the bikes on there. We’ve been tying them wrong. And we did it. I was so inspired. But it was like those simple things — even though I did like so many different things, at that moment time, getting that thing on there, I was so inspired. So I do think you can get inspired by yourself and I think Pele is definitely right about us getting out of our own prison, because we form this prison of ourselves. The being that we used to be is in prison right now. And everything on a shell of us is just a really big facade. And I think we have to un-shell ourselves, unleash our true beings, unleash our true selves, unleash what we truly are passionate about, and not try to be into the group. When is it cool to be an outlier again and really have your own true free thoughts and free spirit? It’s like the people who say or really want to be that way are being ostracized. And it’s like if you don’t fall in line with the way that things are supposed to be, if you’re an NFL player and you take a knee, and people are like, “oh, my God. You’re not doing what you’re supposed to do!” Be you! Motherfucker, be you.
[10:10] Michael Bennett: I want to say that, you know, I feel like music these days isn’t the same anymore. Or the artistry is not the same anymore. I feel like in the 1970s, ‘60s, ‘80s, ‘90s — or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe music represents how society really is right now. Why aren’t people getting higher on music? Like I was listening to Curtis Mayfield, it just seems like the music back kind of has this influence and this responsibility to society to like lead people.
[11:19] Pele Bennett: Yeah. I think when I’m hearing you say that, I’m like, oh my God, you’re hitting your aha moment because I feel like your age is now reflecting the times of now. Like you’re saying, the music now is all over the place, is reflecting the times because there is madness. There is so much chaos going on. But then I’m like I guess every era, the music actually is for that time. But because you’re getting older, you’re getting wiser. So the newer music is not reflecting who you are at this age. Now that you can say that as an older person in your 30s is like, oh, wait, you’re actually getting older and wiser to the music that’s coming out now. It isn’t for you.
[12:14] Michael Bennett: But the problem is that I’ve always listened to older music and I feel like there’s always been a side of music that’s kind of been reflective. Like there’s a side of us, each individual has this chaotic side and this rebellious side that just wants to do everything against society and just go crazy and be young and be wild and don’t have any responsibilities. But I feel like the complete circle of music right now is that. Anything that’s on the radio now isn’t thought-provoking.
[12:46] Pele Bennett: I think also our limits now, you know, every decade they get pushed further out. So now we’re in 2020, the music to us is like what the hell are they talking about? Or it’s raunchy or it’s, you know, pushing someone outside of their own thinking limits, like behavioral limits. But I think it’s because it’s getting pushed down even further. So it’s like we’re now our parents saying, oh, my gosh, this music is just, you know, so many curse words. It’s really, you know, pushing you to a narrative to do something outside of your limit.
[13:23] Michael Bennett: Maybe I disagree with you on this one. I find it odd because I feel like you would be on my side in this conversation.
[13:32] Pele Bennett: We are also getting older and getting wiser.
[13:36] Michael Bennett: I just think that the music isn’t the same because there’s a lot of stuff going on in society.
[13:43] Pele Bennett: I’m not saying the music is the same, but what I’m saying is that music reflects the times.
[13:50] Michael Bennett: It’s reflecting one side of society. When Prince would say something it would be profound. I mean, pretty much we have Jay-Z and Beyonce. But I mean, I wouldn’t say that Beyonce’s music is very thought-provoking. Besides Lemonade.
[14:20] Pele Bennett: Some of that newer music also reflected the times. I don’t know, I feel like you can pick and choose out of different artists.
[14:28] Michael Bennett: I’m saying she’s never been that type of artist. She’s never been Nina Simone. She’s never been Lauryn Hill. She’s never been that type of artist.
[14:39] Pele Bennett: I think she’s done some of it, but it’s kind of like in a sassy way. And I feel like that actually does make an impression on the youth because, you know, everyone listens to Beyonce. But the youth, they love her. And so some of her lyrics, you know, from her last album, it did reflect on the times. And people were like, yes, she knows what she’s talking about.
[15:03] Michael Bennett: It wasn’t like Mississippi Goddam.
[15:06] Pele Bennett: If you’re talking about really deep, then no.
[15:08] Michael Bennett: They are just scratching the surface. Sorry listeners, we are getting into this because I’m hearing my kids repeat certain songs. And it’s hard because you have kids who just hear words and it just regurgitate them. I don’t know why I feel like that. I think because the world was just built around individuality, built on people following you. You have to revert back to the old music. A lot of Michael Jackson songs were deep, like those artists that were in those positions. Their ballads were very strong and their penmanship was very strong.
[16:34] Pele Bennett: I was going to say it’s the writing. Like, who are some of the writers now that are behind, you know, some of the big artists?
[16:46] Michael Bennett: I know some of the writers like James Fauntleroy and The-Dream and people like that, their songs that are really big.
[17:00] Pele Bennett: If artists now put out these deeper lyrics, do you think the masses will still love it?
[17:10] Michael Bennett: I think people are hungry for it. I think there’s enough to be able to mix both. I feel like Jay-Z does a great balance of that. He didn’t do that before. I think you might be right, because when he was younger, the music was about the things that he was experiencing, but now maybe he looks back and reflects on — he wouldn’t take it back, but it was a little bit negligent to share those experiences. Now I feel like he’s more obligated for the culture, if you look at the way to see how he responds to certain things. Movies aren’t even the same anymore.
[18:10] Pele Bennett: Oh, yeah. Film does fall into that line as well.
[18:13] Michael Bennett: And that’s why I’ve been tuned into Bollywood, Bollywood movies, they reflect real shit.
[18:31] Pele Bennett: But I will say, if we’re talking about film also, during the quarantine time, you have Netflix, you have Hulu, you have all these different networks that you can pull in other types of international genres. And I think that’s actually really dope that you can do that. Like because like growing up, my grandmother is Indian, so we watched Bollywood films. I had to go down to Harwin, y’all know that in Houston, go to the little shops, rent the VHS, take it home. But now it’s like we can go on Netflix and I’m like, Mom, you know, what are you watching now? And she loves Korean soap operas. And like, I just think that it is beautiful, like we’re learning about other cultures through watching their film. The Lunch Box is good, but we watched another popular Bollywood movie and it was just beautiful. Like, the story was really neat. The acting was OK. The dancing was amazing. It was a really good film. It was so much culture, you know, that I learned from it, too, what they’re eating, how they’re dressed, the dancing, even the ceremonial things, their weddings.
[19:54] Michael Bennett: There’s not many great shows out there right now.
[20:08] Pele Bennett: But we have been watching a few on Apple that we liked watching with the girls.
[20:10] Michael Bennett: I think Apple has done a good job for that. But to me there’s not a lot of movies that are very thought-provoking and maybe people don’t want to deal with the realities in the movies.
[20:21] Pele Bennett: Aren’t we in the time of instant? You want instant gratification and you don’t want to have these long conversations on ooh, what did the movie mean to you? Now t’s just like that was great. That was bad.
[20:34] Michael Bennett: Like, you have to go back in to really dissect, like what did you see in the lines of it. So in music when you have great artistry you listen to it, you hear one part of it, you go back and hear it again, you hear another small nuance in it. But I feel like music now, movies and so much of everything is kinda like you listen or you see and you move on. You don’t go back and be like, I need to hear it again. I’m not playing that again and again. Stuff like OutKast, I play it and it’s just like the horns, the sounds and everything and the drums, it just sounds like it’s better than what’s out now. And that’s terrible.
[24:38] Pele Bennett: We’re talking about freedom within your creativeness. I feel the boundaries are almost limitless now. You know, like the way that we can talk about different things going on, we can put things in our music and our art. It’s almost limitless. You know, before it was like, oh, taboo to talk on certain topics or types of people or whatever people thought of each other. You know, it was very taboo to touch base on those. People are very sensitive with their opinions and you could offend someone so quickly. But now it’s like you are more offensive if you don’t talk about it, if you don’t include somebody, if you don’t say something. Now it’s more offensive to be like, oh, you need to talk about this. You need to include us in your work. And I think that is a big difference that I’ve noticed from older music to now. Now it’s like, yes. Do it. Talk about it. Push it.
[25:29] Michael Bennett: So you’re saying that people are forced to talk about more than what they’re trying to talk about? To be more inclusive. The people who think they really are free, they not really free because they’re being inclusive. They’re not really saying what they really feel and how they really thought because they’re worried about the opinions of others. But true artistry is freedom of speech.
[25:55] Pele Bennett: But that’s what I’m saying, is that before it was offensive to not. Now it’s offensive if you don’t. It’s completely reversed now. I’m not saying it made it better, though. You’re right. It’s not making it better. It’s pushing people into zones that they’re not ready for. But at the same time is how do we get those to connect together where you have both sides, where you have the freedom of speaking on that. But then you also are not, you know, forcing it, pushing it, you know, like, how do you have a balanced mind and thought of what you’re trying to say?
[26:28] Michael Bennett: I think it really turns out to like people researching. And maybe people don’t research as much as me, because I was telling my brother the other day about albums. I was looking at some of the rock albums like Pink Floyd. I was like, when I look at Pink Floyd’s album, the timeline between their albums, like it’s like five years between each album. They take so much time before they even put anything out. Like now it’s like some artists like Drake, they’ve dropped three, four albums in one year. Like it’s like the stuff that you would throw out, that’s not good enough. Like they put that out.
[27:00] Pele Bennett: The stuff that they would have thrown out, we’re like, that’s our number one song, a number one hit.
[27:15] Michael Bennett: You look at even rap albums like back in the day. OutKast it was three, four years before a new album would come out. Maybe this is because people like Outkast and those who they had a better control of their own music. Maybe the people who are controlling music are controlling it because everything’s built on digital streams. I think maybe that’s why.
[27:43] Pele Bennett: I mean, I’m sure it goes deeper into like their team and how it works for them to put out their own work.
[27:49] Michael Bennett: But I’m just saying, the amount of time to people like the guy who did the Game of Thrones, or The Hobbit, or the people who wrote those books, like those books were like seven years a book. And we were talking to Peter Jackson one time and he was saying, like, he can’t even watch Lord of the Rings. He just can’t look at it. Nobody that did the movie can look at it because it was literally 20 years of their life. Like you got to think they did over seven of those movies, like he’s one of them was three or four years. It is just amazing, like the artistry, the people. Maybe it is the lack of commitment to really, truly digging into something that’s really thought-provoking. Because sometimes even when people share their music, it’s like, “this is the most heartfelt music he’s ever put out.” You listen to it and you’re like, “this shit is stupid as fuck.”
[28:38] Pele Bennett: An artist might be like, I have to put it out because people are wanting the next thing. The lack of the listeners and the lack of the fans of putting the pressure to be like, oh, that was great last month, but what do you have for us this month? You know, it’s like pressure on both sides that we might be getting really good stuff, but because we want the next thing already or for our adrenaline to keep pumping, we’re going to throw that out and put it on the backburner. Our hand is out like, OK, what else do you have? And I think sometimes that could be also pressure on the other side of the artist to do the same thing. They want more. They want more. I need to be relevant. My work needs to be relevant, you know. It’s like there’s this, you know, two magnets on opposite sides and we’re just like, pushing, pushing, pushing.
[29:23] Michael Bennett: Yeah. Even in athletics it’s kind of the same thing. I see people on Instagram right now, like they’re just trying to stay current. It’s probably that they have the same managers. They’re doing a video just to match it. If that’s not truly in you, then why do people continuously try to do it? Maybe it is this constant battle between being relevant and being stagnant. And I think people want to be relevant so much that they have to stay with the trends. It’s the challenge to be seen. It’s a weird, weird time.
[30:41] Pele Bennett: There was a movie we watched one time and I can’t remember the name of it. It was about ads. You see a few thousand ads daily. So now we’re in this digital era where we are still being influenced through ads, obviously, it’s all online, but it’s now and like that thing has to have, you know, doubled or tripled. Because now we’re constantly seeing ads and we’re being influenced without knowing it. So when we have these artists, we have social, we have so many things pushing us, you know, in different directions. How do we as like our own being realize like what we really like, what do we really want to watch? How do we filter, you know, our thoughts out into, like what it is that we want to take in? And I think that goes back into like your family or friends, you know, surrounded by people who are in directions that you feel that you want to go move towards.
[31:32] Michael Bennett: The ad movie was really interesting. There’s not too many free moments.
[31:40] Pele Bennett: Like, how do we get our brains back?
[31:41] Michael Bennett: We can’t get our brains back. Our brains are not ours anymore. Once we come out the womb, we start to recognize brands.
[31:49] Pele Bennett: Everyone is a brand now. If we’re ever pushing into like besides the artists and like artists have to have their social following and they have to have all of that. You’re a walking brand.
[31:59] Michael Bennett: I hate that about my own podcast. I hate to say it. We have to put up a picture. I’m just like, can we just put it out and people listen to it? Because sometimes you just feel like it’s just you’re trying like you’re trying to build something. And it just feels like when you try, you slowly lose in a part of you trying to do something that you truly love. Slowly a part of you starts to become gimmicky. And they don’t even realize they’re becoming gimmicky. Like this is the first time in music history, like Drake is like the biggest artist and like nobody wants to dress like him, nobody is trying to be like him. Before, like, Jay-Z, I gotta get the S Carters. It’s because he don’t even have a style. He don’t really have a personality. He blends in and he makes music with people and then kind of takes their stuff in making his own kind of thing.
[33:47] Pele Bennett: When someone’s telling you like, oh, be real, post something real. I can tell that’s fake or that was, you know, your team pushing it. It’s kind of funny because you’re like I am being real, but then are we being real?
[34:02] Michael Bennett: Exactly. When you sit in the house and you start looking at Instagram and you look on TV and you just start to realize, like damn, everybody’s so thirsty. When can we start being real again, when can we sit down and really look at somebody in the eye and really feel passion between two people. People can’t even look at each other in the eye. Maybe everything around us is becoming so fake that we don’t even know what’s real anymore. We’re living in The Matrix.
[34:46] Pele Bennett: We’re not high.
[34:47] Michael Bennett: We’re not high, people. Think about it, though. Everything you do. You’re so consumed by it.
[35:04] Pele Bennett: I was thinking of Deepak Chopra. He was talking about we start putting titles on ourselves. And he said the more titles we put on — and this is not word for word, but it was something similar — the more titles we put on ourselves, as a person, it actually closes us in. It doesn’t keep us free from being whatever we want to be, and I think that this is kind of of closing in on what we’re trying to say is that you continuously put these titles on yourself, through your work, through your lifestyle, through whatever it is. But I could see that as it making you a prisoner of those things. When in reality we want to do so many things and we want to just live life to its fullest. And by that is like trying everything you want to try and life and pursuing it. If it fails, it fails. But you tried it. And I think, like, just freeing yourself from those titles and freeing yourself from that prison space of, you know, all these different influences that we have on a daily basis, and just really come into your own. And journaling those ideas from your own mind, from your own thoughts, and using that through your passion and your creativeness to find, you know, what your path is. And when you find you find that path, or you see that vision and you can see it from a distance, just continue on there and keep moving forward. And, you know, try to block out all those different distractions, but move on your path that you created for yourself.
[36:54] Pele Bennett: So today’s pro tip, we want to include journaling. Journaling on a daily basis of not only what you did for the day, but maybe your thoughts for that day or your opinions on something, your vision for the future.
[37:27] Michael Bennett: Please subscribe to us or like us on anything that you’re listening to. Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, whatever you’re listening to get away from your family, whoever you don’t want to be around. And make sure you rate us or give us a comment. Even though we don’t give a fuck about your comments, give us a comment. Mouthpeace is a production of Lemonada Media, which you can find online on all social platforms @LemonadaMedia. You can follow me on social media, @MosesBread72. I love bread, and biblically, I always thought I was Moses.
[37:57] Pele Bennett: And you can follow me on Instagram at @pelepels. Mouthpeace with Michael and Pele Bennet is executive produced by us, the Bennets. Mouthpeace is also executive produced by Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. And of course, the whole team at Lemonada Media. Our producer is Genevieve Garrity and our show is edited by Brian Castillo. Thank you to our ad sales and distribution partners at Westwood One, and to all of our sponsors for making this show possible. Thank you for listening.