Isaiah Rashad, Peter Pan & The Fear of Growing Up
Tension is in the air. Swords can be heard clashing across the seven seas. The audience watches with bated breath as two lifelong enemies engage in one final duel. Good vs. Evil, Young vs. Old, Peter Pan vs. Captain Hook. Our hero is on the ropes but with one last act of youthful ingenuity Peter overcomes Captain Hook and sends him to his doom. The kids have won the day; celebrations abound. Sadly, this victory is short-lived because, as we all know, “all children, except one, grow up.”
“Way back then when everything we read was real / And everything we said rhymed / Wide eyed kids being kids / Why did you stop?” – Chance The Rapper, “Same Drugs”
When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up. To me, being older meant big houses, fancy cars and having the freedom to do whatever you wanted. It was like Biggie’s “Sky The Limit” video except I was the one in the driver’s seat reciting the Hustler’s Prayer.
2016 was the year that I finally came face-to-face with the end of my youth. It was New Year’s Eve at a friend’s house and I was confronted with the usual questions that come at people my age: What are your plans for the future? Are you going to follow in your parents’ footsteps? When are you going to get married and have kids?
Normally, these questions wouldn’t phase me but these questions didn’t come from the usual place. They came during a heart-to-heart with a friend that I hadn’t seen for the better part of five years. After that friend told me that she was getting married this summer, a deep fear set within me. It was the kind of fear that wakes you up in the middle of the night and reminds you that time is running out. It was the fear of growing up.
“You ain't nothing but a baby, your fear is growing up” – Isaiah Rashad, “4r Da Squaw”
Isaiah Rashad and I are the same age. Even though our life experiences are completely different, Isaiah has a knack for saying exactly what’s on my mind. It’s the reason why I gravitate to his music so much.
Isaiah Rashad is the perfect vessel for millennial angst. His short, abstract verses capture the feeling of being lost in a world of endless information. His music is the soundtrack for those who want to get their life on track but have no real sense of how to do it.
As Isaiah said himself, The Sun’s Tirade is one long rant. It starts off at a place of serenity and ventures into a lyrical exorcism of all his demons. Songs like “Park” and “AA” play off as adolescent escapades, a real-life Hollywood version of Pleasure Island.
But, as the album progresses, we realize the point of Isaiah’s epic vent: it’s to remove any lingering doubts from his mind so that he can become a man and take care of his two kids. The Sun’s Tirade is a eulogy to childhood, it’s an intimate portrait of someone that’s ready to grow up.
“During Cilvia, I didn’t have a bed, so that’s what got me up. But really, I was thinking of my kid. I had a son and was really trying to provide for him, and I had to kind of exit real life. My goal was to move out of common expectation. And for 'The Sun’s Tirade,' I had another kid, so I had to move further out of reality again. That’s what I really think about. It’s selfish to be trying to figure yourself out when you need to be thinking about your kids.” – Isaiah Rashad
To be an adult is to accept responsibility. To be an adult is to make decisions and stick by those decisions regardless of the outcome.
In a bid to regain my confidence and happiness last year, I had reverted to a childlike version of myself. I was comfortable with letting the world pass me by while I moonlighted as a writer by night. It ended up leading to one of the best years of my life but, in many respects, it was because I had sheltered myself from the weight of autonomy and accountability.
2017 is the year that I’m ready to take back control of my life. It’s the year where I plan to leave my personal Neverland and create new adventures in the real world. I’ll never forget the wonderful times I had as a kid but, like Wendy, I’m ready to embrace adulthood with open arms.
Photo Credit: Top Dawg Entertainment