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It was a cold cold winter morning. I was having a quick breakfast before going to high school. As usual, I had my headphones on, to make sure nobody would even try to talk to me. Me, my phone, some chocolate milk and toasted baguette… Oh yeah I’m French by the way.
At this time Kendrick Lamar was not the superstar he is now, and needless to say: nobody had even heard of him in France. I was looking for new songs to download when I found one entitled Hiiipower which intrigued me. I listened to it and loved it. I had discovered Kendrick Lamar before anybody else in my country.
Being a huge fan of music and rap in particular, I waited all day to have some time and explore this gold mine I had just found. And I did. The emotions in his voice, the poetic references, the melody, the rhythm, and overall super high-level writing turned me into a fan almost instantly. Some songs took more time to “grow on me” but on the whole, I loved it already.
Time passed, I passed exams and followed my path.
Many mornings listening to Kendrick, many days, many nights… When I like something I turn into a hardcore fan. I never got tired of this first album but he released a new one anyway, called Good Kid, M.A.A.D City , and I fell in love again. This album was not only full of well-written songs, but rather like a whole short film that he presented to us scene after scene.
I found this album in the morning, but waited until bedtime to listen to it, in order to make sure the house would be silent and nothing would distract me. And it worked. This time again, I started to shiver more and more, song after song, until the 4th track came up.
There was nothing special in me shivering while listening to a song, or watching a movie. I’m quite sensitive to art and it had happened many times before. But this time, I was exhausted and felt like dreaming already when The Art of Peer Pressure started playing. A story on a serious topic, told in a song, or more like showed in a song… My body started to shiver and so did my whole soul.
For the first time in my life, I felt like connected to a piece of art. I understood it. I felt it. I knew what each word was supposed to depict, what I was supposed to see when listening to this. I knew nothing about movies, but I started to picture pans and zooms etc. And keep in mind: my English was far from good at the time. I didn’t understand the words, I felt them.
I saw each scene unfold before my eyes and a music video came to my mind.
For the first time, I was creating something.
I mean I had been drawing a little from time to time which can be considered as “creation” but I was far from good enough to call it art. And more importantly: drawing was not my calling, this was. Yes. I realized I was into movies and videos more than anything else, while listening to a song.
Funnily enough, I later learnt that so is Kendrick Lamar. That before starting rapping he wanted to make movies, like Tupac Shakur. Not rap… Like Tupac Shakur. Not what he’s so good at it made him win a Pulitzer prize.
I started to write. I made a story board before knowing what a story board was. I prepared a whole video I knew I wouldn’t shoot, because of copyright rules etc. And I had never felt more in sync with myself.
It got addictive. I started to look for songs I could make music videos for. Videos that would tell stories. Videos that would make said songs even more powerful. I even planned turning this into a business. And even though I later realized that I liked other types of videos much more, this was the beginning of everything.
I bought a camera, started to film everything I could. My holidays, my friends, my family… Even my own hands when there was nothing around me. I knew it was my “thing” and that I had to find a job related to that. Movie director? Writer? I didn’t know the specifics and didn’t care. Just like when you fall in love, nothing else really mattered.
And I fell in love a few times again, as Kendrick released his new albums which somehow got even stronger in the emotions they provided. I was happy, like a drug-addict who needs larger doses… And gets them.
My connexion with music is hard to explain, as I can’t even begin to describe the emotions I feel when listen to good songs. My love of words also makes rap the most “effective” music, as it combines both music and poetry. It doesn’t make me cry like Begin Again, or think like Good Will Hunting. It’s something much deeper.
Kendrick tells Tupac at the end of To Pimp a Butterfly that he feels like music is more than melodies. It’s vibrations that resonate within us. And when you think about it, human beings have always been trying to build the craziest instruments to create more of these vibrations… Again, like drug addicts. Even the most “primitive” civilizations in History had created some kind of music, more basic, and which often resonates even more in our bodies. Percussions and hummings, like the Aborigines did in Australia, or like Matthew McConaughey did in The Wolf of Wall Street. Two completely opposite guys and situations at first glance, but one big similarity : Both are human beings.
I would love to tell you how you can find the song that will make your creative side click, your own The Art of Peer Pressure. But unfortunately, all I can do is talk about how I felt, how I found it — by chance — and explain to you why I think this happened.
See, music is made of vibrations that connect us to each other, that make us like a song right away or not. These vibrations create a link between us and our roots as human beings, which are all the same, no matter what some might say. They connect us to our roots, to each other, and to our real selves, which is why I think anybody could learn something about themselves thanks to music.
Yeah, we’re all different, but we all have the same roots, our bodies work the same, and art is the only language we all speak. Us, and our inner selves.