B.o.B., Ab-Soul & The Search For Musical Euphoria

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I’ve been enthralled by B.o.B’s music for so long I recall when “Haterz Everywhere” was running rampant through Atlanta high-schools like a venereal disease during a penicillin shortage. So long ago 2 Chainz was chainless, MySpace was biblical and Limewire was a musical epicenter. B.o.B. went from being an unemployed, Eastside emcee introducing the hood to Amy Winehouse on “Grip Your Body” to world renowned, multi-talented Bobby Ray. Somewhere between mixtapes, album delays, chart topping, album success and grand hustling I lost my enthusiasm for his adventures. It’s an odd sensation, scrolling Twitter searching for the meaning of life, seeing the latest project of an artist you once held in high regards, and there’s no fireworks, your spirit isn’t stirred to even click; you continue to scroll.

This is the same realization that inspired my Eminem piece, that feeling of apathy and detachment. It inspired a new outlook. I now see musicians like flings in the summer; it only takes one song to start the passionate fixation. One hit wonders and guilty pleasures fall into those temporal, short period of enjoyments, and then there’s musicians we explore, every crack and crevice uncovering ourselves in the abstract just like lovers. Their entire discography gets devoured, from albums to videos, even the embarrassing mixtapes from their humble beginnings. The musician becomes a mirror; we are attracted to the familiar reflection, the instant connection. To be a listener, a fan, is to have endless connections. We will outgrow the old, to make room for the new in a cycle of self-discovery.  

Mike Oakhem once said, “For every great moment in my life there is a song that reminds me of it, for every bad time there is an even better song that won’t let me forget it.” He’s referring to the music that is carved into your essence, timeless, not based on magazine review ratings, but upon the emotions that they spark/sparked. I’ve played songs which lasted three minutes in duration but held me captive for hours. You get lost in the sea of sounds, lyrics that touch memories, summoning them from slumber. I see myself in albums like Blu’s Below The Heaven and Ab Soul’s Long Term II; twenty-something dream chasers trying to defy the odds, honest about their doubt, and confident in their craft. There’s a personal connection with my own stress and self-assurance, one that I can’t build with a Rich Gang or Watch The Throne. I won’t be 23 forever and hopefully my finances won’t always be dollar menu budget, but the music that got me through the rough patches will become nostalgic trophies to take off the shelf and shine.

I’ve started to detach myself from the idea of artist, genres, and brands. Names, labels, status, followers - nothing but distractions; music is to be discovered and rediscovered. As we grow there will be songs that adequately represent an age, a timeframe, and a bookmark that returns us to the bittersweet past. When I was young, my uncle only played jazz music and I hated every bit. Now I find myself playing Charlie Parker and Miles Davis in remembrance.

The avenues to discover music has expanded out of the record shop (still an incredible place to search), but only for those that are open-minded. Every day I hear complaints about the radio’s dictatorship, but those same complainers aren’t supporting open-mics or a new artist blog post. Gold isn’t given, it’s dug for. Not just new artists, but those old albums that inspired everything that goes into our ears. This isn’t just for hip-hop, new genres are refreshing. I read Warren Zevon’s entire I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead autobiography before hearing any of his music, and now I can’t get enough of the rock singer. My ears are open, searching for my next fling inspired by that one lyric, note, chord, kick-drum, or bassline that’s going to send me to euphoria that will last a lifetime.

[By Yoh, AKA 2 Vowelz, AKA @Yoh31]

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