By most accounts, 2016 was balls. So many of our favorite celebrities bought the farm. Trump was elected. It was so bad that even perennial Race Draft offeree Don Lemon said that it was an awful year, prompting his bosses to cut his mic after announcing how “lit” he was while in New Orleans for New Year’s Eve. Drunk Don Lemon might be the wave.
So yeah, 2016 grabbed itself by the *CENSORED*. It fucked the dog.
Unless your name is Damon Young, more specifically, our Damon Young, comin’ all the way through from the 4-1-2. Also, Damon’s birthday was on December 30th. He even ended his awesome year with a birthday. Where dey do dat at?
I can’t go through everything that made 2016 awesome on a personal level for him though I’ve been fortunate enough to ride shotgun for most of the news and many of the accomplishments. But through a lot of hard work and dedication, Damon managed to put himself on the Intelligent Nigga Watch List, landing him slots and opportunities in many of your favorite writers online and print news outlets, putting him on televisions in homes near you, and rounding it out with a book deal, announced in the piece written about VSB in the Washington Post.
Damon had himself a year.
So I’m going to talk about Damon, who might be the least humble modest person on the planet who’d never write anything this glowing about himself, but would think it should be written. He’s basically Nas without the Bevel investment.
If the stories about Damon are true, then he was born by the river, in a little tent. Like the river, he’s been running ever since. None of that is true, and if you don’t recognize where those lines come from, then I feel sorry for your mother and then really sorry after O’Dog comes in and shoots you in the head while Kaine stands by sipping a 40 (Love 40!).
It’s no secret to anybody who has been around since the early days of VSB that Damon has made the leap. He decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadow, and took it upon himself to do the work to raise the profile of VSB and himself. He hunkered down. He powered up. He wrote and wrote and wrote. And when he was finished, he wrote some more.
In all seriousness, from 2014 and right on into 2016, Damon made some choices, both personal and professional. For one, he decided that he wanted to make VSB the pre-eminent spot for snarky, irreverent commentary on race and pop culture. Unfortunately aided by several significant tragic occurences, there was a void for individuals to write about race in a way that was unencumbered by ad dollars or restriction. You know, that unapologetically Black shit. There was an opportunity to just be right about race relations in America. Forget the niceties and consideration for other people’s feelings; it was a time to just tell the truth.
Damon decided that he was going to do just that. Except he’d do it in a way that didn’t require a 20,000 word tome (that is NO SHOTS FIRED AT ANYBODY), but in 800 words or less, he’d tell you exactly what was happening and relate it to your life and our lives and speak directly to the issue and why the issue existed. In a world of expansionary exposition, he found a way to drive the point home in a succinct and powerful manner. From Darth Becky to Donald Trump, Damon did it like he was doing it for television.
And then a funny thing happened. His emails started to fill up with requests for interviews and appearances on national television outlets, radios, and college campuses. People wanted to meet him and see him in person. They wanted to talk to him about race in America. They wanted to talk to him about what current events means for African-Americans in this country. They wanted to talk to him about writing and his process. They wanted to know the VSB backstory and what it means to run an outlet that keeps popping up in folks FB feeds all the livelong day. He had himself a 2016.
Our inboxes, both as a collective and individually, began filling up with requests for submissions. Right now, I, personally, have at least 100 emails from folks who want to write for VSB. I can’t imagine how many Damon has.
Damon honed his craft and in 2016, his craft took him to places we never imagined when we decided (with Liz), on a whim, to start a website in 2008 to keep our names out there while we worked on our book.
Let’s talk about Damon and his upcoming book. Damon is a writer. I’ve had the pleasure of taking sneak peaks at bits and pieces. I think that’s one of the privileges of being a partner-in-write, kind of how I assume Big Boi and Andre 3000 let each other hear their shit before it goes anywhere. He’s writing his ass off just from what I’ve had the pleasure to see and it’s, like, 1 percent of where he’s going.
One of the fun parts of being part of VSB is that we’ve been given a lot of access to a great many things. We get invited to a million things and we’ve got a platform that allows us to do things that many people would like to be doing. We get to be a “somebody” so to speak. On a personal level, one of the funnest parts has been watching Damon’s star rise. I’m proud of him and happy for him. You do the work, you reap the rewards, and in the end, a rising tide lifts all boats.
Seeing Damon make his way onto national stages and not embarrass himself or the brand is nothing but a win. As one of his best friends and business partner, worlds that are pretty indefinitely intertwined at this point, it’s an honor to be part of the journey. And since I know that the sky is a limit for him, envisioning where he might make it is a plus.
Damon had himself a year. I’m pretty sure he’ll have himself some more.
So clap for him…because if you know like I know, we’re going to be clapping for a very long time.
And most importantly, he didn’t get shot by the cops.