Listen to Stereo Hearts by Gym Class Heroes. Listen to the first few piano chords. And how they are played. How with every strike of the chord comes a strike of the heart. How each strike sends thrills down my spine. Then the voice of the rapper. Rapping to the beat. The voice, it crackles, like fire, and it warms me. But the beat is also moving me; I’m bobbing my head up and down. Then Adam Levine’s voice, perfect, pristine, but moving. The tune brings me on a roller coaster. It’s not speaking to my intellect, it’s speaking to something deeper. It’s speaking to more than my emotions, it’s speaking to more than my feelings, it’s speaking to my being. To me. To my very existence.
That’s what I feel when I hear music. It’s alive. People think rap is some random cussing and swearing, but no, it’s poetry, but with a beat. People think pop is just some mainstream shit with no value. But no, it’s an art, that gives out a message, no matter how stupid it may seem. I do admit, a lot of people take music for granted. I asked many people why they like “Monster” by Eminem and they say, oh, it sounds cool. It’s as if people nowadays listen to music for some immediate gratification of some sort, and that’s all. Yet, they miss out on what the song is really about– it’s more than just sounding great, it’s about conveying the emotions of a person with hallucinations and suffering from mental illnesses. There’s an inner beast he’s trying to deal with, that he has to compromise with. That itself is what gives value to music.
Before, though, I only listened to music for the pure superficiality of it. I listened to classical because it simply made me jump up and down, or mainstream pop because it was cool. I saw music as simply music. Just a nice treat for the ears. I remember just listening to “Call Me Maybe” over and over and over, because it simply was, well, awesome-sounding. All that changed, though, with my depression. I started ranting often, about I hated myself, about why this world was so messed up, but then maybe I was messed up for thinking the world was messed up, then ended up cursing at myself, and it went like that over and over in my head. Rant, rant, rant, it was all I did.
Then one of my other depressed friends re-introduced me to Eminem. I had listened to Eminem before and I hated it; it didn’t sound great like Bruno Mars or Kelly Clarkson. It had a rock-genre, harsh, feeling to it, and because it didn’t sound great, I immediately dismissed it. But when I listened to it again, I was shocked. It was just like my ranting, and the message behind his songs I began to see for the first time. They weren’t stupid dilly-dally love bs like “Call Me Maybe,” but dark, melancholy messages that resonated deeply with me in my depression.
One of the first songs I heard from Eminem is “When I’m Gone”. It starts off with a ringy tone, with children laughing in the background, kinda innocent. Then it goes straight into a heavy, dark beat, as if all that died. Starts off with about a dad, how he loves her girl so much, but yet, he ignores her, tells her girl “Sorry, daddy’s busy.” Then the dad is suddenly on a stage, and he’s rapping, and he’s getting praise, then he suddenly sees his girl, his girl is like “Daddy, its me, help mommy, her wrists are bleedin’,But baby we’re in Sweden How did you get to Sweden?
“I followed you daddy/You told me that you weren’t leavin’/You lied to me dad, and now you made mommy sad.” Then the girl ditches the dad, and then the dad realizes he’s a bitch, and then he gets sad, then then my favorite image: “How could it be, that the curtain is closin’ on me/I turn around, find a gun on the ground/Cock it, put it to my brain, scream Die Shady! And pop it/The sky darkens, my life flashes/The plane that I was supposed to be on, crashes, and burns to ashes.” And after he dies, he then sees his daughter, and kisses her, and tell he’s sorry.
Not just the storyline itself but the way Eminem raps reinforces this feeling of sadness that I felt, the way the world was being torn apart around me, and I had made the biggest mistake of my life, and that it was too late to change anything. And then the way he raps the chorus– it’s like a sweet motherly tone, saying, it’s ok, go die, don’t feel sad, because I’m still happy.
But I’m getting off track (I’m writing this in Starbucks so it’s hard to focus). The point is, I want to be a rapper. Or a singer. People think I’m joking, they say, face the facts, you ain’t black, you can’t rap. But I will one day. Because nothing, not even the fact that I sing and rap horribly now, will stop me from reaching that goal. To me, music is another way for my words to come alive and take shape. It’s a way for me to cope with my feelings. I’ve written a lot of rap lyrics already, but one day, after I take some vocal and rapping lessons, I’m gonna start rapping those lyrics and topping the charts.
Ok, I’m probably dreaming too much again. But when I dream my dreams, a fire forms within, fueling, consuming, perspiring, bleeding like the ink from a pen. and I watch it bleed onto blank white paper, but the words that it bleeds reach the heights of skyscrapers. And I’ll climb that skyscraper and be at the top, and say, hey y’all, those who said I couldn’t do it,just fucking stop. and look at me, I’m up here, I rapped my way from the bottom, and now I’m in the air. this is my fucking kingdom.