Tag Archives: Drake

The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done: How I Changed My Name to Saul of Hearts

Most of you can probably guess that Saul of Hearts isn’t the name I was born with. I’m not going to tell you what that name is, but I’m sure you can figure it out, either by asking someone who knows or Googling it.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with my birth name — it just wasn’t for me.

It’s the name that I wrote on the top of my reports when I was a straight-A student. It’s the name that my teachers called out during roll call, at school plays, at science fairs.

It’s a name that other people gave me. And I’ve never been OK with letting people define me from the outside.

I knew from early on that someday I would change it. But still, it was an uphill battle against conventional thinking, societal expectations, and 20 years of momentum.

The biggest obstacles came from those whom I thought would support me the most — my close friends and confidantes, who thought they knew the real me.

The more I fought to assert my identity — my right to define myself as I saw fit — the more important it became to me, even more than the name itself.

It was scary, frustrating, and deeply rewarding, all at once.

I learned how a name — that most personal of things — can hold so much meaning for so many different people.

What I thought would be a simple process took years.

And yet, even if the name I had chosen meant nothing to me, the process of changing it taught me everything.

It challenged people to look at me differently and rethink their assumptions about who I was.

I could finally start the process of defining myself, word by word.


The first time I went by the name Saul was around my junior year of college. Everyone already knew me by my birth name, so I wasn’t trying to “change” it yet.

It was a pen name, an alter-ego — the first four letters of my last name, in fact, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch.

I had a few friends who went by other names — who’d had one nickname in college, and another in high school, or who took on a stage name when they performed with their band. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me.

After college, I started hanging out with even more unconventional people.

I went to Burning Man, where everyone had a “playa name.” If someone introduced themselves as Fuckwad Sparklepony, then by God, you would call them Fuckwad Sparklepony.

You would never ask someone their real name. What was a real name, after all? Why was your playa name less real than your name in the default world?

It was exciting to meet someone who went by “Lucifer,” or “Lt. Disaster.” It would be a letdown to find out their name was really Dr. Jacob Smith.

After a few years of going to Burning Man, and traveling the country, and hanging out with hippies and couchsurfers and anarchists, I ended up with two groups of friends: those who knew me as Saul, and those friends from college who still called me by my birth name.

Eventually, those two worlds were going to clash.


A few years after college, I decided to go all in.

I looked down the list of possible surnames I’d come up with over the years. None of them worked.

Finally, in a burst of inspiration, I settled on “Of-Hearts”. It was so absurd, so obviously not my birth name, that it just might work.

I changed my Facebook name, my online dating profiles, my resume. This was it.

And then I hit the wall of resistance. My friends just didn’t get it.

I’d ask my friends to call me by my new name at parties and game nights, and they’d just shrug and forget. I’d send out e-mails signed “Saul,” and they’d come back, “Hey _______.”

Scott and Jenny, who had been to Burning Man with me, and knew other people who called me Saul, were more understanding than others.

They’d often slip and use my birth name, but would quickly correct themselves. It meant a lot to me to know that they were trying.

But my friend Drake took it personally. He seemed to think that because he’d known me so long, he knew the “real” me.

That changing my name was a personal affront to him — that it infringed upon his right to call me as he saw fit.

Or, worst of all, that I was trying to be something that I’m not.

Occasionally, we’d host guests from Airbnb at our house, with whom I was the contact person. They knew me from our conversations as “Saul,” and they would show up asking for me.

But when I introduced myself, Drake would step in, rolling his eyes: “That’s not Saul,” he said, “that’s ________.”

And I had to explain the whole story. A story that, frankly, I didn’t want to explain. I didn’t think it was my responsibility to explain away a name I’d never chosen in the first place.

I became afraid of bringing new friends over to the house. If I went on a date with a girl from OKCupid, I would hesitate to bring her home.

I didn’t want her to think that I was lying to her. I didn’t want her to think I had something to hide. She could Google “Saul of Hearts” and find my life poured out on blogs and social networking profiles. I was as transparent as could be.

I just didn’t want to make love to her as ________. It wasn’t me any more.

So Drake and I began to fight. We had long conversations about it. He didn’t think it was his responsibility to “remember” what to call me. He thought I was trying to run from my old identity.

I just wanted him to accept my new identity, to give me the space and freedom to be myself.

Eventually, I fell in with a new group of friends, a bunch of artists and Burners who lived in an intentional community called Synchronicity.

I went over for dinner one evening and introduced myself as Saul of Hearts, waiting for the inevitable skepticism. What’s your real name? someone was bound to say.

It never came. Weeks passed, and no one asked.

I had never been so grateful.

Over the next few months, the pressure eased. Suddenly, I didn’t have to be on edge anymore, waiting for one word from Drake to start the inevitable landslide back to my birth name.

Now, if he called me ________, he would be the one in the minority. He would be the one that people would look at funny: “Who are you calling _______? Do you mean Saul?”

Occasionally, as my groups of friends mingled, my name did too. Some friends learned my birth name as others adapted to my new identity.

It didn’t feel quite as wrong to hear my old name any more. It became more and more rare for anyone to call me by it.

I still use it on my legal documents, and on my driver’s license. I might change it someday.

But it was no longer quite so threatening. It no longer had any power over me. It made for a funny anecdote when my new roommates sorted through the mail.

Maybe a time will come when this name too wears out, and I’ll have to change it all over again.

But it doesn’t matter. The transition has already happened. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and if I had to, I’d do it again.

Written by

Think you can only have one job? One home? One love? Unlock your poly-potential | Lateral Freelancing since 2013. www.saulofhearts.com @saulofhearts


Deeper Than Rap: Beyond Google’s Smackdown of Rap Genius! Underestimate these guys at your own peril, tempting as that may be!

The distinguished gentlemen of Rap Genius

The distinguished gentlemen of Rap Genius
Gary Suarez
December 30 2013, 2:59 PM ET

For spoiled modern tykes, Christmas-morning coal amounts to little more than an empty threat, but the naughty boys behind four-year-old hip-hop lyrics hub Rap Genius woke up this past Wednesday to something far more upsetting: a punitive move by Google that sent their site to the craggy bottom of paginated results listings on the only search engine that truly matters anymore.

Google discovered that the controversial, privately financed domain had engaged in a link-exchange scheme meant to artificially boost its rankings in searches related to the new Justin Bieber record. Google struck back by burying all pages on the Rap Genius domain, including its homepage, far deeper than any reasonable user would bother dredging. Try to Google the lyrics to Drake’s “Trophies” and you won’t come across an RG link until at least page five, which in today’s competitive online landscape might as well be page five thousand. Since then, the site’s daily traffic has sunk to levels not seen since the summer of 2012, according to Quantcast, a leader in online-audience measurement. In recent days, the site has garnered between 265,000 and 310,000 unique visitors per day, a pale comparison to the rest of December, during which it regularly topped 1.3 million.

This was no mere act of Google Grinchery. Rap Genius unquestionably violated the posted Webmaster Guidelines — specifically the section that discourages dubious link exchanges — and once caught, called out, and penalized, founders Tom Lehman, Mahbod Moghadam, and Ilan Zechory copped to it in fairly plain language via an open letter, particularly fitting given several other music websites’ recent appropriation of the format. “We effed up,” the trio admit right at the very top, “and we’ll stop.” (True to form, the letter was annotated and remains open to community annotation, leaving it prone to further discussion, as well as abuse.)

In a way, the Internet takes the closest thing it can to a vacation this time of year. Media sites in particular slow down their publishing or supplant the gaps with reposted “Best Of” content. Essentially, the understanding is that readership and the traffic it brings lessen as people return home for the holidays to visit their relatives en masse. Fewer writers and experts, then, would likely be reporting on the story to highlight its importance beyond online schadenfreude. Accordingly, Rap Genius would likely have seen a natural, explainable dip in their metrics anyway, albeit nothing this dramatic. Were Rap Genius beholden to advertising like the bulk of lyrics websites, Google’s power move might have had a deeper impact.

It’s important not to trivialize what happened here as some “smackdown” or to take a narrow view of the story, especially when many might analyze it further are otherwise occupied with not strangling their family members with leftover tinsel. Since garnering a $15-million investment from Silicon Valley venture capitalists Andreessen Horowitz, a not insignificant amount of the media narrative surrounding Rap Genius has ranged from skepticism to full-on negativity, an image problem that its founders have fostered more often than not. From threatening to sexually assault a SPIN editor orally to posting absurd job listings on Craigslist and dressing outlandishly for interviews, the brain trust has not done itself any favors. In a sense, the bad behavior has become expected, tolerated, and in some circles accepted, particularly by the business press.

Clearly, someone believes in Rap Genius. The much-ballyhooed investment assuredly stems from more than investor Ben Horowitz‘s expressed love of hip-hop, which he reinforces with selected rap lyrics atop each post on his blog and in his upcoming contribution to the Business Self-Help bookshelf, The Hard Thing About Hard Things. Both he and partner Marc Andreessen maintain Rap Genius accounts, but rest assured they’re not wasting time annotating Soulja Boy lyrics. The duo evidently sees a profitable future in this self-described “knowledge project,” one far broader than any number of music genres. Yet as sites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy have proven this year, new business models are emerging, and the benchmarks of success have changed with them. It is in Rap Genius’ best interest to be a defining part of the new normal rather than another faddish dot-com footnote. As Wikipedia and the explosion of “wikis” have revealed, annotating the web has immense value even if a viable, sustainable monetization model has yet to emerge, and Rap Genius (ahem, the Genius Media Group) certainly desires to play a vital role in developing that model.

You already can see this taking shape on the site. Those familiar with Rock Genius, at present a catch-all for both indie and pop, likely haven’t traversed Poetry Genius, which despite its narrow moniker intends to encompass all things literary, from Auden poems to the references behind Breaking Bad episode titles. Though ostensibly a zone for breaking news, News Genius has turned into a repository for declassified State Department memos and political stump-speech transcripts, as well as messages from CEOs to their shareholders. Sub-branches are in the works for a variety of disparate fields, from fashion and sports to law and science. All either currently operate as Rap Genius subdomains or intend to once active, a strategic choice to expand the prominence of the larger domain. There’s even an enterprise model planned, which if implemented could change the way companies internally share documents and information much like wikis already. In light of all this, earnest arguments about the site’s cultural appropriation of hip-hop seem almost quaint. The Genius Media Group aspires to be something much grander, which a ubiquitous, seemingly omnipresent tech and information giant like Google no doubt recognizes. After all, Amazon used to be a place that just sold books.

For now, however, lyrics still remain the key gateway and, accordingly, the well-funded Rap Genius responds to credible threats with agility and trademark swagger. Back in November, when the National Music Publishers Association sent takedown notices to some 50 lyrics websites, it took only a few days for Rap Genius to announce that it had secured a licensing agreement with industry heavyweight Sony/ATV Music Publishing, with more such deals on the way. In doing so, the company helped insulate itself against the sort of litigation bound to do more damage to the current advertising-led business of posting song lyrics online than any temporary Google punishment. It’s an audacious strategy, running afoul of the respective industries that Rap Genius straddles until the site is directly challenged. But their apparent willingness to promptly play ball once challenged suggests a shrewd pragmatism not expected from a bunch of hip-hop-loving millennials.

That wrong-headed underestimation of Rap Genius allows it a tremendous leeway. Those who read beyond the “tl;dr” note at the top of the aforementioned open letter — one notably devoid of words like “apologize” or “sorry” — know that the founders used the opportunity to put a number of competing lyrics sites on blast, courtesy an infographic grid with wizard hats and smirking question marks. The founders singled out seven other sites, recognizable to just about anyone who’s searched for lyrics online, alleging more egregious violations of the Webmaster Guidelines, from excessive link exchanges to outright paying for links.

If anything, the defensive non-apology served as a volley back at Google, a public notice that singling out Rap Genius can have consequences in both directions. If sites like AZLyrics, Metrolyrics, and Sing365 are actively engaging in gaming Google in illicit ways, surely the search giant has an obligation to police those sites as well. Failure to do so will give Rap Genius an upper hand at some stage, at least from a PR standpoint, should this search suppression go on for too long. At present, there’s no clearly defined end date to Google’s search-results embargo, and it’s not unreasonable for the two companies to be seen as likely competitors in the annotation realm at some point in the near future.

Link schemes aside, with its record of permissible and enviable growth hacking and SEO, Rap Genius can survive a setback like this in ways the lyrics site status quo might not. A leveling of the playing field might just bury the competition, or weaken it to the point where an industry-compliant site could claim even greater market share. Turning a lump of coal into a diamond? Now that’s gangsta.


Drake Sued For Owl Pendant Knockoffs !!! (QUICK READ)

Source Huffington Post!


Drake is one of the most successful emerging C...

Drake is one of the most successful emerging Canadian male Rap artists in the early 2010s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An owl symbolizes knowledge and learning. But according to a Hollywood jeweler, Drake hasn’t been so wise.

TMZ reports designer Michael Raphael (owner of Baden Baden Inc.) is suing Drake for allegedly creating copies of his $50,000 owl pendant for Drizzy’s posse.

Per the jeweler’s lawsuit, he claims the company was hired to make Drake a custom necklace in January. The diamond and platinum pendant was paid for with a cool $49,204. Six months later, the jeweler saw replicated gold designs featured on the rapper’s Instagram account.

Drake faces copyright infringement (as well as handing over his duplicate bird wear) to the designer’s company.

Miss Me

Miss Me (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Worth noting: This isn’t the first time Drake’s been slapped by a style suit. Raphael, Drizzy’s former stylist, sued the rapper last month for unpaid bills.