I played this song for my love, he was down on his luck. The words didn’t sit right, he was like wtf?!This nigga is crazy.
I can think of all kinds of ways my life could be better lady.
I was shocked, taken aback,
by his anger in fact
somehow in my mind I thought this tune,
would show him some light, insight, and he’d alight, and let go of some of his gloom.
I turned down the volume and the air thick revolving around with the smoke and the silence.
In that moment I knew
he was a Miles Davis blue.
Jermaine Lamaar Cole was born to an African American father and a German mother in a military hospital in Frankfurt, Germany (things you find on Wikipedia). We know from this song and others that his mother was single and sometimes struggled to make ends meet. Like many rappers his life was not a crystal stair and yet he like many of our beloved rappers he endured. Endure.
In the beginning of J. Cole’s career it seemed he would forever be the hot artist that Jay Z never let shine. Having signed to RocNation in 09 as one of its franchise artists (along with Rita Ora, and we see the slow burn that is her career thus far), most listeners expected him to come out, blow up and be the next greatest…immediately. Yet that is not the way it went. Although he had steady features with people like Mos Def, Miguel, Trey Songs and Missy Elliot it was not until the Born Sinner album released in 2013 that people really began to pay attention. Message: good things in life take time. Typical. Simple. It’s the same adage that everyone with sense has ever told you. Yet the waiting can be arduous and lead to depressive states, “even Hov tried to keep it and I leaked the damn tape”.
Fast forward to 2014. Everything changes. He drops that “Apparently” off the prolific Forest Hills Drive album that fans of J. Cole had waited for. The babies responded, singing in the streets, in the hallways, “I keep my head high, I got my wings to carry me”. It was a beautiful sight to see. It was one of those soulful hip hop songs that’ll make you cry; even if you don’t cry the artist, as Jay Z said, “makes the song cry” for you. He knew. He waited. He believed in the midst of all his struggles that his art would prevail. He kept his head together in between darkness. And you know it had to get dark, wack and corny, knowing you’re dope and still broke. Still what song does he make to close the album, aside from the litany of thank you’s? Love Yours.
J. Cole, along with Kendrick Lamar, Mick Jenkins, and others have become the new generation of “Profound Ones: The Thinkers”; may we appreciate and hear their musical prayers.
This song speaks of gratitude in the face of adversity. This song reminds people to hold on; to not compare their lives to anyone else’s and just simply love the life they live (cue the Half Pint-Greetings I bring from Jah-that’s for another blog #whatreggaetaughtme).
This is so vital, in any day, yet especially in this day and age where social media, reality tv, etc have us literally in other people’s lives. Seeing their jewelry, body transformations, cribs, whips…it can definitely make the green eyed monster come out. This is also the age where strippers, bartenders scantily clad, scammers, and trap stars are seem to be “winning”; that can be especially rough for us that have taken the “straight” route.
I, like most people have days of depression, maybe even weeks when I am in a funk. Although I can’t really claim weeks because I seek joy. Actively. When I feel the bullshit creeping up on me I start singing happy songs and watching comedies just to get out of the funk. I even came up with a “get happy kit” concept, that makes you list those things that will make you happy and hit that list up as you need.
Fuck depression. I don’t want to ever be that sad. My mother suffered from depression and she was a Pisces, so that well of sadness went deep. I saw how that negatively impacted not just her but our family. Some days she would just sleep, all day. Some days she was in such a funk nothing I did (no songs, no jokes, not even fucking up in school) could move her from that mountain of sadness. At some point I felt she clung to it like Linus and his blanket, “I’m depressed, so let me be” was the mentality of her and the family made allotments for her condition.
She had reason to be sad (like many of us do), failed marriages, serious health issues, and financial struggles. At this age I now know better how seemingly insurmountable those odds can seem. Yet I also know that we all have things that we could focus on that would depress us. As well I know that we all have some gift, some piece of joy that is ours and ours alone that will center us if we allow it. Choose to focus on what you want to increase. Love Yourz.
I’ve been blessed. Blessed with family (born into and created). Having someone to call on when you are without money, lonely, sad is true wealth. I see now that this is all the wealth any of us need. Ever. When you don’t have that you are lost. It takes super human strength to do this without a village. A competent, sane, generous, lovingly critical village is hard to come by; if you have one, say thank you.
Whatever you have, just be thankful, even if it is just you and your life. Now I know that is so much easier to say as I sit in my well lit and heated apartment, cable working, and food in the refrigerator. Yet, I have to believe and hope that even if my circumstances were not as such I would have enough hope and presence of mind to hold on. You know the saying, “tough times don’t last, but tough people do”? Well nothing we say is real and will be to any great effect and impact on our lives unless we believe it. Belief is everything. Villages. Belief. Presence and Hope. Hold on to the next day.
Nobody can be you but you. There is work for all of us to do in this world. Perspective is a mother fucker. When you’re on the bottom (poor, struggling through life) without an optimistic perspective you will believe that your rung on the ladder is all there is. As if that’s the end all be all of the ladder. Yet know there are other rungs and continue to climb.
Try one more day. I am not saying it is easy. It’s not at all, some days you’re hoping like Tupac said, “that it all dont fall in the street”. I’ve been without money (too proud to ask), made horrible mistakes (saw my life/career flash before my eyes), and lost ones close to me unexpectedly and early. So I know. You don’t know me yet please believe me I know.
“There’s beauty in the struggle”
My mother died unexpectedly in her room, across the hall from my room in our small 2 bedroom apartment when I was 25, (I’m 37 now). I went out to party at the 40/40 club and came home. I went straight to bed without checking in on her, and found her the next day dead, rigamortis having already set. I was close to my mother as the baby of the family and the pain was arresting for years. I cry even as I write this. Yet I am here. I didn’t succumb to the sex trade and drugs like I thought I might (being broke and broken will have you questioning all avenues for $$$ sometimes). I didn’t go off and go crazy like I wanted to at times; like many thought I would.
I’m here (in my Miss Celie voice!). We are here. And if we are here, alive, then there is still space for joy, for appreciation. I became a better person when my mother died. I was spoiled and lazy yet when she passed I had to work. I had a two year old daughter to feed. I was starting my first teaching job the Monday after she passed (she passed on a Saturday). I had to figure things out on my own. Consequently, I became a better teacher, a more compassionate and empathetic person. I am becoming a better mother and person daily as I remember and reflect on all the lessons she taught me or failed to teach me. I found beauty in the struggle.
“I’m tired of living with demons because they always inviting more”
Be careful what you invite in to your mind, your body, your heart. Why think it, if it doesn’t feel well? If it’s not helpful to you and your purpose? Let it go. Love your life. Celebrate that shit, even in, especially in, the darkness moments. Sun will shine. Soon come. It cannot rain 365 days.
“I hope one day you hear me”
Peace, Love and Light from Soulforce worker #1 Lola Fulani aka Bonitaah Applebum or Hey Bonita-Glad to meet you!