There are always some times in life that shit gets you down, ranging from family issues, arguments with your girl, or when that last Butterfingers bar gets stuck in the vending machine and you are out $1.25. In times like these, I find that the best medicine (besides copious amounts of drinking) is usually music.
While it is easy to find drug slanging anthems, songs about banging, or ballads about keeping ladies of the night in line, it may take a little bit of digging to find songs that everyone can relate to. The ballad of the vending machine malfunction, if you will. Here are some that immediately come to mind:
Slippin’ is a rare song in the fact that it sounds better when it is censored. DMX laments about his broken childhood, the struggles that he had to go through in the street, and recalls his recovery from his dark place. Broken into general terms, the lyrics of Slippin’ speak volumes to those who are forced to be independent a bit too early, and to witness the realities of life a bit too much.
See to live is to suffer but to survive
Well, that's to find meaning in the suffering.
Before 2Pac became a T.H.U.G life puppet of Suge Knight’s now defunct Death Row record label, he was a socially and politically conscious rapper with raw emotion in each and every verse. He is mentioned among the greatest rappers of all time not because of his incredible mastery of the mic, but for this ability to reach everyone with his music. Keep Ya Head Up is an ode to the broken woman, a common tragedy in African-American culture. His lyrics serve not only to highlight this tragedy, but to uplift any shattered spirits.
Cause I think we can make it, in fact, I'm sure
And if you fall, stand tall and comeback for more
Atmosphere has been traditionally known for fiercely introspective and dark lyrics, but took a radical departure in their latest album with symbolic stories about a variety of other people, including the daughter of a drug dealer, an alcoholic, and a homeless man who sees his daughter at a diner. Dreamer contains the classic American theme of “pull yourself up from your bootstrap” and visits the life of a gutsy young woman as she navigates through countless obstacles, bad male influences, and raising two children while succeeding. When you listen to this song, you think to yourself “if she can succeed, so can I. And my shit isn’t half as bad.”
Those are just three examples – do any of you have any songs that hit the spot during a bad time?
I know what the wrong side of the universe looks like – all alien beings must be late and hurried there. I was forced to skip breakfast and was already feeling the effects of my low blood sugar with each roar of my car’s engine. As I was power-walking in the parking lot, I felt that my pocket was unusually light this morning.
My iPod is at home.
Luckily, with the trend of Web 2.0 everything, a delivered breakfast burrito and some interesting online radio choices fixed my morning right up.
Old school radio: demise forthcoming. Picture by Ian.
I will be frank and say that I believe 99% of the radio station out there sucks. I don’t even think my car radio quite works correctly (one of the downsides of installing your own car audio system) – this is of little loss to me because the annoying commercials, low sound quality, and the fact that radio playlists never seem to play exactly what I want irritates me to no end. Don’t even get me started on the songs they choose to play either.
My first taste of online radio was surprisingly great, and refreshing. I stumbled upon a radio station on Live365 that played extremely listenable and varied music, ranging from old school to Afrocentric to forgotten favorites. It felt like someone who knew what he was doing was playing the songs, as opposed to a media pawn or a statistics driven robot. Here is an example playlist:
A Tribe Called Quest – Like It Like That (great Afrocentric old school)
Fatlip – What’s Up Fatlip (Fatlip, from the Pharcyde, released a solo album in 2005 that I had no idea about. ) Afu-Ra – God of Rap (very overlooked old school artist) Grand Puba - Two Thousand, Amazing (see above) Canibus – Second Round K.O. (one of the first, best battle rappers in the game) Outkast - Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (one of the Foundations of southern rap, for you Wayne/T.I. junkies out there) The Fugees – Vocab (A marriage of reggae, hip-hop, and soul earning unadulterated mainstream and critical praise? Never before done!) Kanye West – Get ‘em High (a lost gem among Kanye’s more popular songs, features Kanye, Common, and Talib Kweli going at it hard) Rakim - Been a Long Time (old school legend)
DJ Honda – Straight Talk from NY (surprising find on a radio station)
Has anybody else had a good experience with online radio? Any suggestions?