An intro and outro can tell you a lot about an album. It’s like an audio behind the scenes tour, which setting the tone for what was, the tone for what you can expect in the future. I think of the 12 minutes at the end of College Dropout, or J. Cole’s recent classic but featureless work, recounting how improbable it’s actual creation was.
25 to Life is a short collection of words I wrote during November of 2015, 6 months after I turned 25 and nothing made sense.
What They Don’t Tell You About Adulting is focused on the jarring situations that come with growing up, and how it can be both exhilarating and debilitating.
How to Die Well explores someone close to my family dying, and how my pride almost inhibited me from saying goodbye to them, and the cost of that immaturity.
We Used to Pray for Times Like This is a letter to me from myself but from the point of view of a side of myself I used to actively suppress. I wanted to explore what it would sound like in public.
I Like Her, but I Love You is a misnomer of sorts, where the “her” and “you” are fictional, but the events and feelings are real. It’s patchwork of my learnings about love, honesty, and thoughtfulness over the past few years. It’s also the only piece that I worked on inside of 2016.
If I had album art, this is what it would look like:
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what we don’t say, and why we won’t. For me, it has less to do with my inability to find the words ( I’ve always had them), and much more to with what I thought the cost of actually saying them would do. Also, every fear about what I thought I couldn’t be, spilled out into my actual life and was seemingly threatened to derail me.
The danger however, was that the words I never said, turned into the feelings I refused to acknowledge, and manifested into the pain I ended up trying to bury behind accomplishment. Conflate that with an idea of how a man, especially a Black one, should be moving in this climate, and it’s a recipe for a series of perpetual breakdowns. What you’re about to read is what those felt like.
Perhaps it was the idea that in fact ‘the best of us’, that is those who have risen to a status that seems improbable, can catch a bullet before they catch a break. Strength should never be defined by your ability to bear weight with out breaking. I find that it is most readily visible in moments when utterly broken, one is able to find unique ways to progress. I felt like no one wanted to really take it there, until I realized I was living there and never told anyone.
I hope you see a little more of me, or maybe some of yourself somewhere here too.
I always wondered why you had to flip to the back of an album to find out the people who helped make the project a success. If they are your people, shouldn’t they be out in front? A few select people need to be publicly celebrated for helping me tackle a project that almost broke me in half:
Andrew Kung, who shot every single image you see (and in subsequent pieces), and helped me bring some of these jumbled ideas to life visually. Hone your talent, master your craft, and paint with your camera.
Bianca St. Louis, who texted me things I didn’t want to hear at the exact time I needed to see them. Thank you.
To Melissa Kimble, who kept me on an accountability schedule, that despite my best efforts to duck and dodge, I couldn’t have. You do so much good, and you’ve only scratched the surface of what’s coming.