Kanye, Lamar Odom & The Miraculous Healing Power of Music

Odom credited Kanye's music with helping him heal and he's not alone. From Alzheimer's patients to autistic children, music is powerful medicine.
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Odom credited Kanye's music with helping him heal and he's not alone. From Alzheimer's patients to autistic children, music is powerful medicine.

I’m about to break one of my self-imposed bloggin’ rules: Never write about Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Before you click away, unfollow, and remove any traces of DJBooth from your browser history, hear me out. 

I’ve always held steadfast in that music is one of the most powerful forces in human history. From cavemen making fat beats banging rocks together to people wanting to put radios in cars before cars were even a real thing, there’s something deeper that connects humans to rhythm, melodies and lyrics. I may not be able to explain it using scienctific terminology, but I know it when I see it, and I saw it when Kim explained how Kanye’s music helped Lamar Odom recover from his drug overdose.

According to Kim, Lamar said, “Kanye’s music helped me so much. That’s when I realized I could start thinking again, and things were coming back to me and I could start articulating it.”

There was a moment when Lamar couldn’t really express himself and he couldn’t really talk but he could hear what we were saying to him. Kanye really felt like ‘we can cure him through music. We can get him to talk.’ He would go to the hospital he would rap and sing and I think Lamar started to get his function back and started to talk once he started to listen to a lot of music.

We always talk about the power of music in terms of sales or cultural clout, but this is a much deeper kind of power and influence, one that runs much deeper than celebrity. Odom’s brain wasn’t able to process sales or album rollouts, none of that mattered. What mattered for him was the way music sparked his senses. Take a moment to truly reflect on that and you'll recognize just how incredible it is. 

The cynic in me wondered if this was real or if it was a product of “reality” TV. I  It almost sounds too good to be true, but then I thought about Tech N9ne and how his music helped a fan recover from an accident, or how music helped a normally mute Alzheimer's patient form and verbalize coherent thoughts, and even bring back memories of school dances. Despite how planned, coordinated and branded nature of the Kardashians world, this is one of those moments I think is very real.

The journalist part of me knows I should provide a scientific explanation - I’m sure it can be explained in terms of synapses and their relationship to cognitive abilities - but the human part wants to let this live in the realm of the purely artistic, because I believe there's an element of magic when it comes to music. Even with diminished capacities, even when modern medicine fails, music has this ability to reach us, to ease pain and make us think and feel again. More than sales and hype, music’s real power comes to us in ways we can barely fathom. Beyond music industry analysis, the reason Kanye can sell albums at all, the reason DJBooth exists, is because music is the most powerful force on the planet.

And if you are feeling particularly inspired by this, I’d encourage you to take a look at this GoFundme for Josiah, a child who has been diagnosed with Autism. According to his mother:

Music just helped him get those words out and string them together.  He loved to play the piano, guitar & drums.  He also learned about emotions through song (other ways just didn't work).   

In September 2015 we had to stop Josiah's music thearpy. We could no longer afford it, among other things.  He still loves to listen to music, classical, Justin Timberlake, Fall Out Boy and Bruno Mars.  But he hasn't been able to express himself and release his frustration.  Music soothes him and I really think Music Therapy will provide that release for him once again.

Music can heal, music can bring people together, and here's a chance for them to meet and have something amazing happen. Here's a chance to do some real good. To help share the gift of music and give a child who would otherwise not have it, an outlet. If you really love music, if you've ever felt the power and believe in its magic, share it with Josiah. We'll never be able to fully repay music for all it's done for all of us, but it's a start. 

Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth. His favorite album is College Dropout but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth. Image via Instagram.