The Long Game: Persevering as an Independent Hip-Hop Artist from The Berkshires

I dedicate “The Long Game” to any artist who has been working on their craft for what feels like forever.

“The Long Game” is an especially personal song that goes deep into my past, to when I started rapping and making beats at age 11. I grew up in The Berkshires, Massachusetts, and got my start as a hip-hop artist here. Hip Hop exists here indeed. I learned from local rappers and producers when I was getting started. Some of my early mentors were Dominik Omega, The Arcitype, Robby Baier, and others.

Both the song and music video are an opportunity for listeners to get to know me better. This song highlights the long journey full of releasing music, touring, and working in the studio. In the verses, I’m sharing the many lessons I’ve learned along the way, and in some lines I’m talking to myself, coaching myself to keep going. In the chorus, I sing about how a rapid rise to fame can be just as challenging as a longer road to success. I think of artists like Amy Winehouse, Mac Miller, Bob Marley, John Lennon, and countless others who attained massive success at a young age, and died young:

“I’ve seen them rise to fame/then they burn up in flames
While I’m in it for the long game/It’s The Long Game”

“The Long Game” was premiered on May 15th, 2020 on The Word Is Bond, written by Tayo Odutola (Teck Zilla):

“Backed by a lush mellow guitar-riff and head-nodding drums, Whalan explores his humble beginnings as a kid artist who is green into the game and of course, went through the usual predicaments the music industry puts new artists in. He looks back at all these situations as a point of reference and learning process in order to be the man that he is now.”

The music video for “The Long Game” was directed and filmed locally with my partner Amy Inglis (Avida Love Photography) during the Coronavirus pandemic. Not being able to have a cast, we superimposed different characters of myself into some scenes. We were also able to film inside the iconic/historic Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA. We are extremely thankful for the opportunity to film inside The Mahaiwe. For one scene, we printed up all of my past tour posters and created a superimposed time lapse showing the posters appearing on a wall one-by-one. We pushed ourselves creatively and used filming techniques that we never tried before. I edited the video myself, and included archive footage dating back as early as 2007.

Song Credits
Produced by Jackson Whalan & Ian Evans
Vocals: Jackson Whalan
Background Vocals: Ian Evans
Keys: Ian Evans
Mixing engineer: Jackson Whalan
Mastering engineer: Robert Macchiochi (Subvert Central Mastering)

A graduate of The New School in New York City, I’m now residing in The Berkshires in western Massachusetts. I’ve been releasing a single and instrumental every month since October 2019, which has resulted in a growing global audience. In the past year I’ve opened for Talib Kweli and played numerous shows with my live band. I’m set to to release a cover of John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth” on June 26th, and am finishing up my next album, Nice Em Up. I’m eager to play shows again with my band, and look forward to a post-Coronavirus world where people can begin to gather in larger numbers once again. Until then, I’m applying “The Long Game” to staying safe at home. Connect with me on my website to stay updated.