I love rap music.
The engagement of the senses.
The raw emotion—fear, anger, rage, triumph, sadness, bravado.
I think this love is a natural fit for me as a writer. Rap artists can make their words pop like bullets from a gun (Eminem, Busta Rhymes, Bone Thugs N Harmony) or let them slide over you like a caress (Nas, Rakim). Many rap artists are incredibly clever with their turn of phrase—Biggie, Tupac, Jay Z—as they weave their stories of grief, rage and triumph with puns, hyperbole, synecdoche, and irony.
Others are incredible crafters of language. Eminem, in particular, masters alliteration, onomatopoeia, and assonance so well, his songs are pure poetry that hum and snap to the bassline.
I know many people disagree with the level of violence, sexuality, profanity, and misogyny in rap lyrics, and there are some beats I won't listen to because the words hit me in all the wrong places. But there are some I go to again and again when I'm driving alone, or running hard and need to feel something through the words and the downbeat.
One of those is Big Sean's "Bounce Back." You can listen to the clean version in the video below. This song is more than just the sounds of the words or the rhythm for me (although I can't help myself but dance when this comes up next on my playlist). It's the message behind the words. "Last night I took a L, but tonight I bounce back."
He took a loss. But he bounced back from the loss to stand triumphant. And he did it with hard work and determination:
"Yeah, I call shots while you call off
Never takin' summer or fall off
When you stay that committed to it, you just fall down and never fall off."
In my current line of work—writing—there's no better message for me. Because I experience failure all the time. I submit essays that aren't picked up. Someone reads something I've written and sends me an email explaining the ways I've gotten it all wrong, and after I contemplate, I realize maybe the person is right.
But, like Big Sean, I take the L, and I bounce back with a little bit more perspective. I work hard at correcting my many and varied mistakes, and get back at it.
Listen to the song below and pay attention to the message. Then, just try to refrain yourself from singing "I WOKE UP IN BEAST MODE" at the top of your lungs after you get a little inspired.
It's impossible. ;-)