There are songs that, when it pours outside, I long to hear. Songs that anytime I’m in a less than cheery, ruminative even, mood, I yearn to listen to—to get that fix.
I’m not sure why this is.
Perhaps there’s something in the rhythm and beats that evoke these feelings. Maybe I first heard them whilst a bit depressed. Maybe, still, I first heard them when it was raining. Whatever the reason, the nagging desire to listen to them has grown as of late, and I think I know why.
Outkast’s, Elevators (a 1996 release from their second studio album) is a song I both love, but can never recall the name. It’s a song that, frankly, I totally forget about for years on end, but always have a sudden desire to listen to it in times like these. Times, that are soggy: that are rainy, sticky, and wet. Times that are slightly uncomfortable.
Yeah, times like these.
This song, whose title I never remember, but which conjures up a memory of when I first heard it, is fascinating to me because not only do I never recall the title (but I do recognize it when I see it), but I don’t know any of the lyrics beyond the hook.
But I listened to the lyrics this time. What I heard was nothing short of pure genius.
Outkast is rather well known nowadays, but you may be shocked to learn that they didn’t necessarily start out that way. With the whole East versus West rap feud of the ’90s, and the fact that the genre starting in the Bronx, some couldn’t be bothered to consider these Southern rappers legit.
But they should have.
They finally got their comeuppance, but later.
Elevators details their rise from the proverbial gutter. The mundane hustle and grind of putting in work when you’re convinced you’ll be successful, and you repeatedly assure those around you of such, but at the same time, you don’t really know—there’s doubt.
You’re trying to find inspiration to, in their case, write the illest rhyme, but at the same time, not achieving or being afforded your propers when you finally do.
I feel that—deeply.
That you’re doing everything you possibly can think of, exhausting yourself even, to make this a reality, and if truth be told, maybe it just won’t work out.
Being so self-assured that you’ve got something good, unique; that you have it, whatever it is.
You puttin’ in that work—overtime— and people are responding, but you’re still struggling financially and soon, mentally.
Commonsense isn’t needed to see that path’s going nowhere.
But because you’re so dope, so fresh, so clean (yeah, I said that!), you keep pushing through because despite everything, falling is a whole hell of a lot worse than anything you could imagine.
In many ways, you’re holding the world on your shoulders. This world that refuses to allow you entry into it. You’re not from the right region, after all. You talk like that. You’re from that part of country. You look like that. And in my case, I’m a strong female.
You become a rebel for not doing what others expect you to. For forging ahead against the grain.
And once you finally make it, you’re ready to holla’ eff all of y’all.”
‘Slow feet don’t eat‘ after all, right?
Elevators is about rising above it all and finally making that “F.U. Money,” as Dan Lok calls it in his book of the same name (which I’ve been waiting to arrive for three months now, but anyway…)
It’s lyrics detail how a group with a distinct artistry, found their place in the world. That in spite of the fact that they were gaining local notoriety and popularity, they still had their eye set outside of their hometown, outside of the Atlanta area.
Despite that, they’re just like me and you. On their own path, rainy days or not, pounding away to their own beat in hopes it’s loud enough and wide enough to be heard and recognized for the pure genius that it is.
As I reflect on all of this, I guess I never needed to remember the title of the song or its lyrics because I’ve been living them.
I guess life really does imitate art.
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