heard ’em say

My summertime memories are officially fading and seem like a distant dream. Those moments on that third floor corner porch. The endless stop-and-go on the way to the shorefront. Coming home from work and going out for food and ordering salmon and acting like a real live adult. When I come back to this place, these posts, everything feels a little closer once more. I’m missing LA today.

Those people, those experiences so rich in meaning and full of LIFE. Coming back to this system, this culture of “success” and working for this unattainable. Never ending ladders that lead to nowhere and people telling you “you should have by now” or “plan ahead or, better yet, “are you ready?”

My Media and Society class takes on different social issues each week. Today the focus was an aricle about Kanye West, and his ability to bring light to social norms within institutions of higher education. In his first three albums, Kanye speaks candidly about his insecurities – money, women, education. He admits (many times) that he was a college drop out, and criticizes the system with any chance he can get. The article we read for class brought up the idea that Kanye’s self reflection in turn makes listeners begin to question themselves and their own thoughts. Here I am at 9:30pm and I can honestly say I’ve been listening to Kanye’s music since 8:15am.

Disclaimer: I am a huge fan of Kanye. The retro Kanye, that is.

Graduation, Late Registration, and The College Dropout are some of the better hip-hop albums of the 2000s in my opinion. I’ve always loved the music, but have never been forced to understand why. Now, here I am after spending 1,115 words critiquing Kanye and the academic journal article written on him and his music. Finally, I’m diving deep into something I feel passionate about again (even if it’s a highly criticized rap artist). What a relief. A step away from doing what’s required or assigned or due tomorrow for at least an hour or two.

I don’t know if you remember me talking about it, but back in July, I went to the LACMA with Jer. He told me about the limited time showing of Kanye West and Steve McQueen’s “All Day/I Feel Like That” and we saw it on its last day of exhibition. That day, little details of it, the way it all made me feel is something I refuse to let fade from my consciousness. The piece was a raw exploration of power and dominance juxtaposed with vulnerability, and essentially, what it means to be human. So basically… we can all hate on Kanye’s image in the public eye all day (“Imma let you finish….”), but dang, does he make some amazing art.

Sometimes this town puts me in a funk. It’s a limbo between real life and school, being independent and being attached. In Kanye’s older songs like “Good Morning,” “All Falls Down,” and “Heard ‘Em Say,” he challenges the system, dominant ideas of the road to success, and the endless pressure that comes with it. Suddenly I feel comforted that someone agrees with my perspective. Here’s where I’m at…

  • Pressure to be “successful” = pressure to get an undergraduate degree
  • Nowadays, pressure to get an undergraduate degree = pressure to have a leg up and get your master’s degree
  • “Success” in college is normally defined as working hard enough to be hired for a 9 to 5 job (preferably in the business or health field)
  • There’s an inherent hierarchy and class system at college. There just is. I can see it and I can feel it.
  • Despite all of these facts, when you’re inside of them, when you’re living day to day realizing you’re a part of this established system, it starts to freak you out (thus my funk)

My head hurts thinking about it. Moral of the story: feeling pressure to be or become or act or appear a certain way? Chances are a lot of other people are, too. You’re not alone, my friend.

Thank you, Kanye for your surprisingly comforting music today.


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