On May 2, 2012, I lost my best friend and mentor, Junior Seau.
Nearly five years to the day Seau took me under his wing after a chance meeting in Boston over a conversation about surfing, the NFL Hall of Fame linebacker took his own life with a single gunshot to the chest in his hometown Oceanside, California beach house.
“Surfing is the best, buddy,” I remember Seau told me. “You step out of the ocean and you just want to hug the world.” Twenty-four hours later, I was his personal assistant - a role which quickly morphed into student, little brother, eldest son and best friend. Seau taught me more about the world and life itself than anyone ever has or ever could.
His suicide revealed the truth behind his infinity-watt smile: the seemingly happy-go-lucky, larger-than-life legendary athlete and philanthropist suffered from the loneliest days and darkest nights. I felt gutted and despondent yet equally betrayed and angry. Suicide subconsciously forces it’s "other" victims to ignore their emotions of disappointment and disgust, only allowed to expose grief and disbelief.
Earlier this month, brilliant Massachusetts-based artist Joyner Lucas released his latest record and accompanying video, “I’m Sorry” - a gut-wrenching yet scathing introspection about a (fictional?) family member’s suicide. It wasn’t until I heard Lucas' record that I felt akin to someone else’s opinion about what it means to lose a loved one to suicide.
Following the same pattern of point-of-view duality that he explored in previous gems “Opposites Attract,” “Half Nigger” and “Ross Capachioni,” Lucas delivers two equally-poignant verses on “I’m Sorry”: the first as a mental health sufferer and the second as a person left as collateral damage. The beat - itself impeccable - combines an ’80’s New Wave-esque vocal sample with Joyner singing farewell from the voice of the lost one, repeating the title’s refrain.
The influence of Eminem’s instant classic “Stan” - Slim Shady is Lucas’ favorite emcee - is obvious, but Lucas doubles down on his artistic effort by starring in the video, showing true emotion and a genuine virtuoso disposition. Real tears are shed as Lucas bears his strife with uninhibited anguish.
If the song's lyrics, emotions and visuals aren’t a wake up call for anyone who has yet to be impacted by suicide, the video ends with a sobering suicide statistic and the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Already a buzzmaking emcee who should be on your radar, Joyner Lucas has quietly carved a niche as an introspective, cerebral creator with a penchant for seeing two sides of a story and portraying both with equal sincerity.
I'll always miss Junior, but I’m really thankful for Joyner.
By Matteo Urella, a Boston-based writer. Read more of his work at Medium.
Photo Credit: YouTube