‘Food & Liquor’ by Lupe Fiasco

I will always see my fall into Lupe’s music a descent by chance.

Control and accessibility seem to be the name of the game now, and I choose to delude myself in thinking that I take a very active role when choosing music. It’s my music, a hand-carved reflection of me, not you. So much research, so many choices, popular and obscure, genres and subgenres; I feel as though I am, at any given moment, completely oversaturated in the arts. All this freedom, fingertips on a keyboard, can be both daunting and liberating. The present for me seems to be riddled in contradictions.

But, over a decade ago—nostalgia goggles on—whether due to the times, youth, or my own ignorance, I had absolute no control over what I listened to. I couldn’t choose what the radio played and had no say in what music videos aired on TV. I was subject to the tastes of the people and forces around me. It was our music, like an ocean of solidarity. The music of my past has deep roots.

So when those strings of “Kick, Push” sounded out from my television, and the beat dropped soon after, I just knew. If my memory serves me well, I literally stopped mid walk through my own bedroom, completely entranced by what I was hearing. I watched the entire music video, and even back then, I hated music videos. From that moment on, the words kick, push, and coast would never be forgotten.

That was a decade ago, yet here I am listening while writing. Still, I’m entranced. The new hasn’t worn one bit. I recently got the chance to see Fiasco in concert, and no one in the entire venue was too cool to hear “Kick, Push” one more time.

On ‘Food and Liquor,’ I now rediscover, understand lyrics and entire tracks that were previously ignored, and am in complete awe when I realize that knowledge that remained elusive from me for so long was right there in the music. I never would have guessed that I would still find things to learn and feel from an album that I practically wore out as a kid. What began as coincidence lives on by choice.

I don’t know if I would say that hip-hop saved my life. That’s a pretty grandiose statement, but what I can say—with an air of sincerity—is that Lupe’s music continues to help me maintain a balance; between sanity and madness, revolt and restraint, good and fiasco, so on and so forth.