Feel Your Way Through Music
Music has always been about emotion. The editor, Malini Mohana states, “A tool for arousing emotions and feelings, music is far more powerful than language.” (Mohana, 2016). I once said, “the difference between loving a song and liking a song is the way that it makes you feel.” (Hayes, 2018). When we listen to music we recall old memories of joy, pain, laughter, and sadness. It is a tool that allows most musicians to express their inner feelings, and do so unapologetically. It is sound that fills space when people are alone, and electrifies our hearts when people are together. The Justice Crew wrote the lyrics, “I wanna feel the music in my soul”. (Justice Crew, 2014). It may be safe to say that music is more than something we enjoy, but an intrinsic part of us all. Possibly, this is why “soul sharing” artists like J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Nipsey Hussle have achieved higher levels of success in fan relation than those of their counterparts. Soul sharing may be the key to a successful career in music.
Lately, there has been a developing trend for artists gaining substantial accolades. J. Cole released an album in early 2018 entitled, “KOD”. In it, he speaks about his mothers alcohol addiction, his pains while growing past the childish consciousness which held unfavorable habits captive. He speaks about his friends, his foes, and the urge - yet detriment - of teenagers (teenage rappers included) chasing money instead of life, love, memories and human connections. J. Cole explains that the detriment of chasing trends can lead to a highly unfulfilled life, constantly yearning for more and becoming incapable of true happiness and contentment. In his song, “1985”, J. Cole addresses an upcoming artist by the name of “Lil Pump”. J Cole proclaims that he’s proud of him for making it out of his mother’s house at a young age by following his dreams. He also enjoys his ability to entertain young adults, and congratulates him on choosing such a “funky” rap name. He exclaims that although he appreciates Lil Pump’s tenacity to change his living situation, he’s not as impressed with his message. He explains that his message perpetuates stereotypes. His excessive spending is the key to his return to an underprivileged existence. The party music that appeases his current fan base will not last forever. J. Cole then compares his message to Lil Pump’s, and expresses his understanding of why he’s 33 years old and considered one of the best rappers of our generation - his messages are spoken from a place of honesty, vulnerability, and progression. J. Cole is an example of how “soul sharing” is a tool for musical success and longevity.
Similarly, Kendrick Lamar released an album called “DAMN.” in 2017. Kendrick’s album addressed his personal struggles such as: pride, humbleness, lust, and fear. Kendrick addresses these struggles, emotions and thoughts head on. In PRIDE, he writes, “Love’s gonna get you killed, but pride’s gonna be the death of you, and me”. In the song, LUST, he speaks on the detriment of continuous patterned thinking. He explains that giving in to our lusts keeps us in a state of depression, consistency, need, and ultimately stifles progress. He speaks about it from his perspective, as well as the perspective of his childhood friends. In his song, FEAR, he speaks about the generational continuation of parents instilling fear in children. Explaining that fear will keep children aware of the importance of their parent’s words and warnings. Fortunately, fear allows a sense of respect by cautioning the overstepping of boundaries. However, he also explains that the same fear has the ability to keep the power of children locked away with no chance of escape. That fear keeps children from reaching their full potential. That fear kept Kendrick Lamar from believing in himself as he wrote hits for other artists, afraid that he would not receive the same acceptance as them. Toward the end of the record, he begins to question whether he has been living through his songs, or simply creating songs about living through his fear. In 2018, Kendrick’s “soul sharing” album DAMN. won a Pulitzer Prize.
Additionally, Nipsey Hussle has been releasing albums about his personal life since the early 2000s. In doing so, he has built lasting partnerships with artists such as Rick Ross, and Jay-Z. Nipsey set out to own a company of his own called, All Money In, and speaks about the hardship of climbing out of his gang infested community, and reaching a plateau of ownership and success. Nipsey believes that young men from under-privileged communities can create better lives for themselves by documenting a plan, striving to continually reach small goals/milestones, and never accepting defeat. He raps about his time in prison due to poor choices. He raps about his friends and family being targeted. He raps about his wins in business, and the unfortunate events that led to setbacks from which they overcame with determination and perseverance. Nipsey Hussle began a series of mixtapes based around a marathon, explaining that his plan would not be accomplished by a simple sprint. His plan called for a marathon, and his mixtapes between 2009 and 2017 were training. In 2018, he finally reached his goal of partnering his company with the likes of Atlantic Records, and entitled his debut album, Victory Lap. On Victory Lap, Nipsey speaks about the opposition to his dream due to his ethnicity. He speaks about his obstacles that were overcame. He speaks about the “dedication” it took to reach the level of success that he has acquired. By remaining true to himself and sharing the stories only his soul has experienced, he has become a 32 year old record label partner, owner, and high paid artist.
Ultimately, there’s a trend unfolding that points to a long lasting career in music. It is a trend that provides a level of success most can only dream of. It is a trend that holds power, passion, and uniqueness in its mitts. This trend in music is as simple as sharing your soul.
Caramanica, J. (2018, April 25). On 'KOD,' J. Cole Speaks to the Generation That Spurned Him. Retrieved June 17, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/25/arts/ music/j-cole-kod-review.html
Carmichael, R. (2018, February 16). Nipsey Hussle Tells The Epic Stories Behind 'Victory Lap,' Track By Track. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/ 2018/02/16/586361873/nipsey-hussle-tells-the-epic-stories-behind-victory-lap-track-by- track
J. (2014). Justice Crew - Everybody songtekst. Retrieved June 17, 2018, from https:// www.songteksten.nl/songteksten/375607/justice-crew/everybody.htm
Maloney, D. (2018, April 16). Kendrick Lamar just won a Pulitzer Prize. Retrieved June 17, 2018, from https://www.theverge.com/2018/4/16/17244222/kendrick-lamar-pulitzer-first- non-classical-non-jazz-artist
Mohana, M. (2016, July 17). Music & How It Impacts Your Brain, Emotions. Retrieved June 17, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/music-how-it-impacts-your-brain- emotions/