So today’s my birthday. Well, it’s the 10th when I’m writing this, but it’s the 12th today. So happy birthday to me! I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for my first birthday on thursday email. I thought about just letting it rock and doing a Top 5 from the Week like a normal Saturday, but then I decided that it could be cool to start a birthday tradition. Part of me wanted this to just be an emotional journey through my 23rd year of life, but figured that was too melodramatic lol. So I decided a couple days ago to write about the music that got me through the year. Because the past 365 days were…something. Some might call it a slight dumpster fire lol. Some of the songs/albums I’ll mention have a more serious place in my heart, some of them were just things that I liked to listen to during my 23rd year. Hopefully I can balance it out.
NOTE: This is a little LONG and a little all over the place. So apologies in advance for that lol.
My 23rd year actually started off with me going to see Tyler the Creator. I bought tickets on a whim a couple of months prior, after deciding that I would hate myself forever if I missed out on seeing him perform IGOR (2019) in real life. At that point, I didn’t have anyone to go with, but I figured I would at least buy the tickets and figure that part out later; the concert was happening on my birthday – how could I miss that?? Fast forward to September 12, 2019. I take the train to New York City from Poughkeepsie, NY in the morning, after eating breakfast and hyping myself up for my first concert by myself. My mom had convinced me that I should stay in the city for the night, instead of coming back to Poughkeepsie (at what would have been around midnight on the 13th), so my plan of action was to get to Grand Central, pee lol, take a deep breath, take the S train to Times Square, eat at this ramen place called Ichiran that I found online, check into my hotel room, destress, and head to Madison Square Garden for the concert.
After having some VERY tasty ramen at Ichiran (the best ramen I’ve ever had), finding Hotel Pennsylvania, going to a Target a couple blocks away to grab some water (your girl was PARCHED), and going back to the hotel to check in and put my things down, I finally ended up at Madison Square Garden. By myself lol. Which was a little pitiful, since most of the people I saw seemed to be there with a friend. But I bought my little t-shirts, and found a wall to stand in front of. Stuff got a little chaotic when the doors opened for us to go in (there was some confusion as to what doors we were supposed to use), but I finally made my way to the section I was supposed to be in, peed again lol, and sat down as people continued to file in. Around 30 minutes later, I was screaming at the top of my lungs as Tyler (wig on, multi-colored IGOR suit ON) came out to “IGOR’s THEME.” By the time he performed “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?” (the last song), I was beginning to cry (lol that song really HITS different), my throat was sore from screaming so much, and I was drenched in sweat.
I didn’t know how important that day was gonna be to me, until a little under a year later, whilst hanging up a picture frame on my wall for a present my mom was going to give me for my birthday. I spent a lot of time WORRYING this year. Worrying about everything. My present, my future, stuff in my past that I couldn’t change but so desperately wanted to. And that concert was one of the few moments that I actually let myself enjoy. I didn’t care how loud I screamed, how much space I took up, or anything else other than being there in that crowd listening to Tyler sing about love. I needed more of those moments this year, and I hold on to the ones I had very very closely.
TABOOOOOOO!!!!! This past year has really been the year of me settling in to how much I love Denzel Curry, and TABOO was a big part of that. There’s NO bad song on this project. The videos are fire, the production is great, Denzel’s flow is *chef’s kiss*. Like, he really just woke up one day and decided to make TABOO. And MADE IT. KING!
Before coming home in March, I was renting a room from a professor. $500 got me a room towards the back of the first floor of her apartment, access to a bathroom (to myself <3), as well as the ability to use the kitchen (and whatever utensils/pots,etc. in it) and the living room. Basically, I was free to use whatever space I wanted on the first floor – within reason. I never really spent a whole bunch of time outside of my little back room, though. She and her daughter were nice, but I always tried my best to be as out of the way as possible. So part of that meant me making my dinner for the week on Saturdays, so I could be in the kitchen for no more than 10 minutes a day during the week. Every Saturday, I’d wake up around 6am, start washing my clothes/hair (or take the bus to the Stop and Shop a couple miles away), and begin cooking my dinner for the week. I never made the same thing twice – mostly because whatever I cooked, I was eating for 6 days, so I needed to have some kind of variety. And since I was going in slightly unprepared every week, I was extra careful, and it took me an extra hour of stressing over the recipe, whilst praying that my ancestors would hold me down as I tried to make something of substance. When I wasn’t listening to KevOnStage’s Dear Kev podcast, I was listening to TABOO – sometimes two or three times in a row because it’s so short. That album is just so good and has remained my favorite album for the past year or so. And now I have the memories of my weekly meal prep, minced garlic and onions, and my new found love for instant pots to add to my love for TABOO.
Short story: A few Saturdays after my first Saturday taking the bus to the store, he asked me why I got on the bus so early, when I could take the bus later to be on the bus for less time, since he stopped around my stop a second time. I’d get on around 7:35am, and he would come back around at like 8:30-9am, so it was a pretty decent time difference. He laughed when I told him that I really just liked being on the bus. There was something about getting off campus and being around the folks in Poughkeepsie that I enjoyed, and it was a my little time away, since I lived across the street from my job. Plus, I could people watch and listen to music. I was also the only one on the bus for the first 10 minutes, other than him. So there was a nice coexistence that happened, which I enjoyed. I hope he’s having a good day!!)
TO THE SONGS…
I looked on Last.FM real quick to see what songs I was listening to a lot over the past year, and I forgot how much I was listening to IDK’s Is He Real? (2019) in 2019! I’ve been a fan of his for a while and fell in love with Is He Real? after the first listen; I actually haven’t listened to it in a while because I listened to it so much, and I don’t want to spoil the album for myself (edit: revisiting it a little bit..still fantastic). I went to see IDK in November last year, and I hold that memory very close as well. I got to meet him before the concert and he’s so nice! Really a beautiful, beautiful man. And the concert was absolutely amazing and was the highlight of a really good day. It was similar to my Tyler concert day, just sub out the ramen for dumplings from Di Di Dumpling and bubble tea from Coco Fresh Tea & Juice, my trip to Target for a tattoo appointment, and Hotel Pennsylvania for Freehand New York. Just me, my afro puffs, and my little bookbag running around New York. “December,” “No Cable,” and “European Skies” are my favorites from that project.
I feel like I talk about Orion Sun’s Hold Space for Me (2020) all the time on here lol but that ALBUM. Orion SUN. I really became a huge fan of hers over the past year. Wonderful voice, wonderful person. PERFECT album. “Coffee for Dinner” remains my favorite off of there. Just two minutes and 53 seconds of pure talent. She really didn’t need to give us that and she did anyway, so we have to stan. I also listened to “S T R E T C H” (not from that album) a lot during the year.
When la Rona hit, and I came home to Georgia in March, I started watching people stream Grand Theft Auto V on Twitch lol. My life felt like it was falling apart, and that was the only thing that helped me laugh and de-stress. There’s a streamer on there named Lunel (ybnbluee on Twitch) who I watch all the time (I actually talked to him for a nice amount of time last month – two hours! – and wrote about it for thursday email. He’s a big music head, and I wanted to talk to him about what he likes to listen to, so kiki we did. He’s been a little MIA lately because of some personal stuff, so once he’s back online more and has a chance to look over it, I’ll post it!) and he played “Baecation” by Drego & Beno so much when I first started watching his streams. The song isn’t the best, but the chorus is FIRE and has become the song that plays in my head when I brush my teeth. So “Baecation” is the stand in for Lunel, all the other streamers I watch, and all the GTA V streams I’ve watched over the past couple months. I’ve never laughed so much in my life. PLEASE go watch his past streams.
“GRATEFUL” BY LATRELL JAMES IS ONE OF THE BEST SONGS I’VE EVER HEARD!!!! Oh my gosh. This wasn’t one of the first songs I thought about for this list, but when I remembered it I almost started to SCREAM because that song has pulled me out the mud so many times over the past couple of months. It’s really the “people wake up and complain like it’s not a whole blessing to wake up in general / those type of people are criminals / I should save this for an interview” lines that get me. Like…what a simple but beautiful reminder to not take life for granted. I saw this post on Tumblr a couple of weeks ago about celebrating small joys, because they feel the same as big joys. Joy is joy is joy. And this song feels like the embodiment of that. Enjoying the little things because it’s actually those small joys that keep us going. And what a WORD that is.
speaking of latrell james…
My Spotify Discover Weekly Playlist doesn’t always hit, but when it does, it does. On December 2, 2018, I was introduced to some amazing songs like “Pink and Blue” by JULiA LEWiS, “egyptian pools” by Jinsang and JUICEBOX, “Sleeep” by Kayo Genesis, and “Okay” by Latrell James. Unfortunately for me, I wouldn’t listen to Latrell … Continue reading Album Look Back #2: Latrell James’s ‘Still’
Finally, some honorable mentions. Shout out to “Blinding Lights” and all the times I sung The Weeknd’s music at the top of my lungs when I was alone at home, Kali Uchis’s “After the Storm” for reminding me that the sun DOES come out after the rough patches and to keep going (I cried REAL hard to this song one night a few months back lol), and Roddy Ricch’s “The Box” for just existing lol. I didn’t believe the hype at first, but I got it; according to Last.FM, I’ve listened to that song 86 times over the past year, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ lol. Shout out to my “november” playlist and all the songs on that for holding me down during October and November last year (when that I was the only thing I was listening to), Childish Gambino’s “Stand Tall” for being the soundtrack to my encouragement and future growth, and Lil Baby’s “Catch the Sun” for also just existing. I’ve daydreamed to that song many a time. Ooh, and a late addition to my life was Yasiin Bey’s Black on Both Sides (1999), but I’m writing this to “UMI Says,” and I can’t finish this without including that project. 2021 is the year I become a Yasiin stan. Just wait on it!!
Man. There are really so many songs and albums I could mention, but I’ll leave it at that. Year 23 was a mess lol. I think I’ve cried, doubted myself, felt purposeless, and stared into space & wanted aliens to abduct me more in the past year than I ever have. Really the year was one big YIKES. But I’ve also never felt more ready to jump into something new. Cheesily, I feel good things coming; this coming year feels like one where we all re-up on good vibes and collectively take a much-needed deep breath. My cat just head butted me in the arm eight times, so I think she agrees. Or she just wants me to scratch under her chin. We’ll call it both.
Here’s to 24!
here’s something else you might like…
I didn’t really have anything to do for a TAKE on this week, so here I am to talk about my Record Store Day experience. Because…what a TIME that was. So, unfortunately, because we’re still in a pandemic, I was NOT interested in going out and being in anybody’s crowd at a record store. I … Continue reading record store day 001