The Rap Soundtrack to My Life - What’s Yours?
These last few weeks has felt like 1994 all over again. This past month, with the 20th anniversary of Illmatic, Nas has been in the headlines more times than he has the past 19 years. If you aren't Illmatic-ed out by now (how could you be) than I'm sure you will enjoy this trip down "Memory Lane" with Nasir. Now that the dust has settled, Rolling Stone sat down with Nas as he summarized his life and career using 20 of his own songs.
Nas walked us through his thought process and state of mind behind 20 of his most introspective songs. Some are classics. Some never got their due. But all show a "graphic classic song composer" laying bare insecurities, victories, fears and triumphs.
Nas giving a retrospective on his career via songs like "The World Is Yours" or "Got Yourself A..." is the kind of thing rap nerds dream about; it also got me thinking about what my life soundtrack would be. Of course, I didn't make one of the most famous hip-hop albums ever, nor have I dated Kelis or started a beef with Jay Z, but that doesn't mean I can't get all nostalgic too. Below, you will find the last ten years of my life summarized by ten separate songs. Each song was picked because it really summarized where my life was at the time. This is more than just "that song that reminds you of that time"; if you had to pick just one song to sum up 2006 for you, what would it be, and why?
Hopefully, it will encourage y'all to share the same. We didn't do a question of the week yesterday, so consider this your substitute; be sure to share yours as well.
2005 - "All Falls Down"
Without Kanye, I wouldn't be writing this. He is the man most responsible for my unwavering love of hip-hop. I wrote about in great detail here, but basically "College Dropout" changed my life and made me fall in love with hip-hop; "All Falls Down" is a big part of that. I have probably listened to this song more than any other ever and like 40% of my listens came from that first year. If can still picture myself blasting this when I first got my license so vividly.
When Bob Marley said, "One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain" he must have been talking about this beat. Anytime I put it on my troubles melt away like that snickers bar in Rick Ross' back pocket. Summer of 2006 sucked. All my friends were gone and I didn't really have a job so my days and nights consisted of driving around and listening to music. This album got me through that horrible summer and is one of my favorite albums ever; second right behind "College Dropout".
2007- "International Players Anthem"
This came out in June of 2007 which, for me, meant the summer before college. My memory is a little bit hazy, but I'm pretty ure I played pong to this song about 9,000 times. I'd didn't appreciate it as much as I do now, but even back when I knew nothing, this song still fucking hit my soul...and got me drunk.
I think a lot of my love for this album comes from the fact that it came out right around the time I broke up with my first college girlfriend. You may not like how it sounds, but it is a great break-up album; music is the best cure for a break-up and "808s" has a song for ever stage and mood. Plus, "Heartless" knocks, and there is no convincing me other wise.
2009- "Counting Stars"
I have vivid memories of sitting on my college futon, playing "Call Of Duty" and listening to Nujabes. I listened to this song all the time, smoking, studying, showering, sleeping. Nujabes also helped me expand my horizons outside of just hip-hop and helped me get into Jazz. This song made me a better, more wordly, music fan.
2010- "Seat Down Low" (Lil Wayne's Version)
2010 was the peak of the Weezy phenomenon; there was nobody more beloved by college kids than him. Every time we would drink or smoke, which was more than quite often (sorry dad), Weezy was the go to. There were so many songs to choose from, but "Seat Down Low" always got my blood moving more than anything else. Lil Wayne may not be a great rapper anymore but he will always have a special place in my heart as he helped shaped my college years.
2011- "Stick Up Kids"
Junior year was about smoking weed and listening to Weezy. 2011, Senior year, was about writing my thesis and getting the fuck out of Central Pennsylvania. By this time, I was so done with school all I wanted to do was get my work done and get the fuck out of there. I didn't even really party that much senior year; in fact I made the short drive home for the weekend probably more often than I stayed that final semester. When I was there, miserable and working, Bad Rabbits is what got me through. I would spend all nighters listening to them. They have a way of putting a smile on my face and keeping me awake which was helpful when all the adderall wore off. They were the soundtrack to writing my thesis and if you can make that process enjoyable, you have won music.
2012 - "Boobie Miles"
If we're being real, 2012 kinda sucked too. After longer than it should have taken, I finally found a job. Only trouble was I fucking hated it. Working a 9-5 was one of the more dreary, soul crushing experiences of my life. I get it's some people's thing, but for me, it was probably the worst working environment I could have been in. Each day was harder than the next and by the end, even though I enjoyed what I did, I couldn't take it. I would listen to Krizzle's "Boobie Miles" about five times a day to keep me motivated and it worked. Whenever I need an extra kick in the ass, this is my go to song.
2013- "In Due Time"
Being in your mid-twenties is a frustrating, scary time. I may be 25, but I still feel like I am fresh out of college. I would do this hip-hop thing for free if I could but between rent, parents, and trying to be a independent human being, that isn't an option. I made big strides in 2013 - I started writing for RefinedHype and did some big things for DJBooth - but I wasn't (and am still not) all the way "there" yet. It can be frustrating when you know what you want but can't get there yet, so to keep me calm, cool, and collected, Outkast's "In Due Time" was on heavy rotation. If I was feeling nervous about money or what I was doing with my life, all I needed was Cee-Lo telling me to chill out, keep my eyes on the prize, and eventually I'll get there.
2014- "Hang Loose"
It's kind of hard to look back on 2014 since, you know, it's still 2014, but so far 2014 has been all about putting myself out there. For me it's hard to do because I'm kind of an introvert, but with the help of Alabama Shake's it's been easier to say yes to going to that party, meeting new people, and trying new things. Plus, they are probably my favorite discovery of this year, so there's that.
Well there there it is, the list that you never had that you never really cared about in the first place; my decade long soundtrack. Nobody really cares about what 20 year old me was listening to though, so I want to know about yours. What does your life soundtrack sound like?
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net and RefinedHype. He does not have a beard. You can tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @Lgarrison88.]
This article originally appeared on RefinedHype.com, which has now merged with The DJBooth. For more info, click here.
Written by Lucas G. on May 15, 2014
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