Certain songs are meant to be heard on an open highway. Just you. Your thoughts. Windows down. Bright lights of the city to the front, both sides and behind you. Certain songs only come alive under the right settings. The right vices, too.
Having all but forgotten Take Care’s closing gem, “The Ride” was a pleasant surprise last month. Lost in the never-ending debate between Drake’s multiple musical personalities stands the most potent: his introspective side. Perhaps not to the level of vulnerability in the ilk of songs like “Too Much” or “Look What You’ve Done,” “The Ride” has become a theme song of sorts; one taking on a new life inside the confines of my own mind and 2009 Toyota Camry.
The past several weeks have employed the same soundtrack. Something animated heading into the night. A little more of the same depending on how the chain of events take place. And depending on the time, the drive back – which occasionally becomes The Black Keys’ Turn Blue – concludes with “The Ride” ending right as I pull into the driveway at two or three in the morning.
“And all you knew is alcohol and city lights and slow songs
For four months out the year, it’s got you asking what’s good at home
What’s good at home?
The same hoes are still at it, I shoulda known
My young niggas popping M’s and sipping dirty Jones
Problem children that all be repping October’s Own…”
Perhaps it’s because the lack of basketball or football that the song and the environment it creates has taken on new meaning. Or perhaps it’s because the summer has long-since been a reflective period. Next week marks five years to the day I published my first post at TSS. In the 60 months since, I’ve been hired and laid off from a job that was never really enjoyable outside of payday. And ironically, somehow my profile as a writer has reached a level of respectability still making me uncomfortable in various ways.
In the 60 months since, I’ve gotten to know scribes here better than I know a good chunk of my own family, many of us whom have never met. Networking has produced working relationships with talented and creative gurus and businesses that once seemed unfathomable. Hell, and I argue all things sports, trap music and other topics with the regulars here more than engaging in actual conversations with relatives who haven’t played a major role in my life since high school. The entire process has been an insane one.
I’ve found a way to earn a few checks from something that started as a passion, albeit the pay isn’t anything allowing me to rent my own house or condo anytime soon. A quality I despise most about myself is the tendency to over-think situations as it applies to life. Chasing a dream is by far the most rewarding, but stressful task I’ve taken on because the scariest shit in the world is having a dream remain just that. Dreams are bipolar in a sense.
Or maybe it’s the person with the dream.
“You know its real when your latest nights are your greatest nights
The sun is up when you get home, that’s just a way of life…”
God willing, whatever goals you’re working towards, you achieve them. It’s the most I can pray for in return for reading my thoughts everyday for the past five summers. Sometimes I’ve made sense. Sometimes I haven’t and you called me out on it. That’s more appreciated than you, my Harlem barber Los, my closest friends and those who simply rock with my output will ever realize.
And God willing for myself, well, that’s complicated. God willing I’ll be granted to do what I want to do in life as a full-time career. God willing I’ll be able to travel the world, document it and make someone’s life a tad more meaningful in the process. God willing I’ll be living outside of this country because the world is bigger than the barriers we’ve all placed in our minds. God willing I’ll eventually settle down, make an honest woman out of the only honest woman I give a damn about and eventually have a kid. Kids. Becoming a dad is important to me.
Check that, becoming a great dad is important to me.
If the previous 650-plus words amount to nothing more than a giant clusterf*ck of “what the hell is this guy talking about?” then welcome to the late night stylings and thoughts brought on by “The Ride” and I-95 South. We all have our own legacies. I stress about mine. A lot, actually. To the people I know and give a shit about, how I’m remembered is paramount. If “replaceable” is the lasting image, then I haven’t gotten the most of my borrowed time. And as an intermittent prisoner of my own thoughts, the unshakable feeling that I am, at this point, replaceable, haunts me hourly.
A long list of ideas to materialize and goals left to accomplish remain. How long this avenue stands as a vital cog in a race whose path is unknown, I don’t know. Maybe five months, maybe another five years. My own paranoia and Drake’s picture of life from a different pedestal of reality becoming better than his wildest fantasies don’t exactly align.
“The Ride” and its ambiance represent an ideal easel where painting thoughts, fears and inspirations come to life. The Weeknd’s eerie taunts of being “faded too long” are accurate adaptations of vices I use/have used to temporarily fend off frustrations. It’s the last swig of a shot in a bottle that should’ve been placed back on the shelf three drinks ago. It’s the last pull of a blunt that should’ve been ashed three pulls earlier. Whether Take Care’s closing triumph remains in rotation all summer is irrelevant.
Hopefully, when looking back five years from now, however, the same will not be said about these words.
Drake Ft. The Weeknd – “The Ride”