If you’re anything like me, your grandma was your best friend growing up. Well, my great-grandma actually. She gave the best snacks, cared for me, taught me life lessons, read me books before bed, and picked me up from school. She was a crucial part of who I am today. She helped raise me alongside my mother which was why it was so hard to say goodbye.
Music has a strange power; when a big moment in life happens sometimes your heart latches on to a certain song and it forever stays that way.
I was already dishing out sick nicknames before I could form full sentences, and my grandma went by Lolo throughout our family thanks to my inability to pronounce “Lois” as a baby. I’ll get this out of the way early and let you know that my grandma passed away last year on September 30th, 2015, four days after my birthday. One morning, I found a five-second voicemail that still sits in my inbox. As I played it back, my mom’s voice was shaky as she held back tears. I knew something wasn’t right. Just to clarify; my situation isn’t more special than yours or the next person just as yours isn’t more special than the person’s next to you. Things like this happen to people all the time and all over, but that doesn’t change how much the person meant to you.
Sometimes it can only get easier when you begin to accept the fact that this is life now, no matter what the situation.
Earlier that year, The Social Experiment had dropped their debut project Surf on May 28, 2015. One of the voices and musical minds behind this group is none other than Chance The Rapper, Chicago’s own wonder child. “Sunday Candy” was released on Soundcloud as a single before the album was released and prominently features Chance with Jamila Woods’ silky vocals.
Chance’s words on “Sunday Candy” serve as a memorial for my grandmother as much as other songs serve as a memorial for other past times. It’s easy for outsiders to look at hip-hop being emotionally dissonant. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Music has a strange power; when a big moment in life happens, sometimes your heart latches on to a certain song and it forever stays that way.
Chance is clearly a huge fan of his grandma and he’s made that well known. He raps “I like my hugs with a scent / You smell like light, gas, water, electricity, rent” – you don’t need a grandma raising you to know what this is all about. It could be your mother, father, a sibling, or friend. This caregiver doesn’t have to be from the “Southside” like Chance’s grandma. Taking the lyrics literally can take away from what the artist really meant. Artists want their listeners to be able to listen and interpret words and meanings in your own way. It’s poetry in motion. “Mine’s is hand made, pan fried, sun dried, Southside, and beat the devil by a landslide” are all strong adjectives when you look at where it’s coming from and who it’s for. These words can ring true in many peoples’ lives.
This is why it’s crazy when rappers open up and let listeners behind the veneer. Drake is undeniably the biggest artist on the planet right now and he is praised as often as he is mocked for his willingness to open up about his relationships. We’re naturally afraid to share how we truly feel. It makes us feel vulnerable. We bottle it up because we think “No one will really care. These are my feelings and no one else needs to know them.” Rappers are sharing their inner most thoughts and feelings with millions, and sometimes, billions of people. They are painting their emotions right on to the canvas for all to see.
Take for example Kid Cudi, another personal rapper with his track “Soundtrack 2 My Life” or his recent album Speeding Bullet 2 Heaven and the dark feelings they convey. Sure, artists make money and support themselves by making songs, but rappers aren’t all just chasing the almighty dollar. For many, music is a way to maintain their own emotional stability by getting things off of their chest and it’s a way to find if there are others out there that feel the same way. It’s my medium to write about it; it’s theirs to throw it into a song.
After my grandma passed away, I would skip past “Sunday Candy” whenever it came on. I didn’t think there was a way I could listen to that song again without being reminded of what once was. There was a time where I’d flirt with the idea of listening to it again. Truthfully, I did, and slowly it became easier each time. Then it finally clicked.
Chance brags about his grandma in a way that celebrates their relationship and her life. Why couldn’t I do the same? Listening to it now, I’m flooded with happy memories and have learned a new appreciation for all of the work my grandma did for me. What once was a mourning became a celebration. Sometimes it can only get easier when you begin to accept the fact that this is life now, no matter what the situation. Rappers need someone to listen just as badly as we do.
Not every song has to be a number one single, and sometimes making an impact with the people listening is the greatest gift for the artist. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and let yourself truly connect with what’s out there. Art is a reflection of humanity and it’s important to take the time to reflect on the art we consume. Sometimes, music is short and sweet enough to do that. Sometimes, music is all we got.