I just can't seem to get out of this funk.
If I'm not losing my keys, I'm forgetting my cleats for soccer.
If it's not car troubles, it's seeing practically everyone I know either get engaged, or get a dog. Maybe both.
If it's not getting to go to SXSW, it's....
I hardly have a tough life - my days consist of fucking around on eBay - but sometimes enough shit gets piled on to you, it makes you wonder who you pissed off upstairs. I've had funks before, and while I'm not unaccustomed to my Chipotle burritos not tasting quite like they used to, music has always been funk proof. When I'm trying to climb out of the funk, it's music that is my ice pick. No matter what the world throws at me, I know I can handle it because I have music,.
But this funk was different. This time around, even Curtis Mayfield couldn't save me.
My old stand-bys weren't working. The bass wasn't making my bones rattle, that line wasn't giving me goosebumps, and worst of all, "Devil In A New Dress" didn't evoke the usual satisfactory "mmm" when the beat kicks in; you can imagine my horror. I needed something new, it'd been too long since something really moved me, really made me cry. There's just something magical about experiencing a great album for the first time that can really move you. I was dying for it. Dying for the piece of music that would make me excited to write, excited to face the day. The song that would illuminate the austere, desolate winter skies and not only melt the snow from under my feet, but maybe even thaw out this frozen moment and reveal my usually sunny disposition. But did that album exist?
Yes. Phony Ppl's Yesterday's Tomorrow is that album.
For 50 minutes, I sat alone in my room, shut-off from Twitter, Xbox, and anything else that connected me to the world that was kicking my ass, and really listened. I laid on my rug, bowl half-smoked, incense burning with a smile as wide as Rick Ross plastered on my face. I could feel the gorilla on my back screaming "fuck you" start to cower in anguish like a vampire caught in the sun. Listening to this album was one of the best nights I've had in a minute. For the first time in a long time, I felt right. I guess that's what happens when you hear something as sonically charming and adventurous as Yesterday's Tomorrow.
Was it hip-hop? Was it R&B? Soul? It's all three and then some. When I needed some hip-hop, whenever I was feeling a lull or needed a change, they were right there with a charismatic verse. When I needed soul, there was more of it than I could deal with. R&B? They got it in spades. Shit, with the way they experiment with solos, instruments, pacing and spacing, I'd argue this album is more jazz than anything. It felt naturally off-kilter but it was just right; that's what I love about jazz. At times it even reminded me of my jam band days. How many artists can give you Phish and Fishscale in one fell swoop?
Shit, at times, with cascading instrumentals and effects it even sounded more like a musical than an album. It's often so fluid that is sounds like one long, 50 minute track. No matter how drastic or remarkably different a change in tone, pitch and style could be, each section needed the one before and the one after to work like chapters in a larger, richer anthology. It was a sinuous river, but the waters were calm, cool, clear, and filled with hot mermaids. Sonically, this album would have busted my funk alone, but they way it sounds is just the tip of the iceberg.
I have a very particular album ingestion process. I like to listen to the album on a sonic level first; what jumps out immediately? After I shuffle through, I go back and do it again, and eventually I begin to shift from the sound to the content, the meaning and the lyrics, but that process takes a while. How long depends what the album is trying to say and how they say it, but usually it takes double-digit listens and at least a solid week of digestion. The lyrics, the content, the heart of this album though, was far more immediate and far more powerful than any album in recent memory. The connection was immediate and palpable. Black Milk's album made me cry because of how it sounded, this album made me cry for what it said.
Yeah, I cried...more than a few times. I guess that's my thing now?
It was like therapy, except I didn't have to say a word because the group already knew what was on my mind. As I freak out about everyone I know getting married - I feel like I did back in third grade when I forgot my Pogs on that field trip and everyone else was comparing their holographic slammers - they are there to remind me that shit will happen when it happens on "Why iii Love The Moon." When it does, I'll know because I'll feel like "Take A Chance." With a line like "breaking up is tough unless you a ho," they also reminded me that all these feelings I'm feeling are totally normal. The sentiments shared on "So Much Better" hit me like a left hook from Tyson. After two weeks of crawling and scratching to bust out of this funk I'm starting to think "Ain't nothing to fix I'm as broke as it is" and as often as I struggle with making a living off rap writing, I think of the alternative - "They take out dreams and give us jobs" - and know, one way or any other, this music thing is going to work out for me; no amount of zeros on my paycheck are worth sacrificing my dreams. They not only showed me a blueprint to explain how I was feeling, but gave me the power to shake it all off and wake up the next day with a smile.
The album was released a few weeks ago and, though it's kind of my job to stay top of things, I can't help but feel I missed this one for a reason. We emphasize finding music, discovering and unearthing the diamonds in the rough. We spend all day in the mines of Drake freestyles and trap, inhaling all the toxic fumes, to find that one diamond. Still, sometimes, it's not the music we find, but the music that finds us. Blogger Lucas might be a few weeks late, but for the Luke who exists when the computer isn't in front of him, I found this album right on time. I don't want to give it stars, ratings, or awards (I mean I do, but I won't). I'm not here to declare Phony Ppl the best new band ever although, truthfully, I'm ready to do that already. Music aside, I just personally want to thank them, from one human being to six other human beings, for helping me break out of my icy funk.
Today, just 12 hours after my first listen, the sky is a little brighter, the wind is a little less biting, and my bounce is back. Yesterday's Tomorrow made tomorrow's yesterday a whole lot brighter.
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]