RoQ Riffs!! What’s goin down?!?! Back with a second edition of Ear Buds , touching on songs have gained a sentimental value with me, over the years.. or just dope joints I feel you should check out. Last time I dropped Homeboy Sandman’s “Illuminati” on yall and related it to the environment and time space I was in , at that particular moment. Since last time was pretty well received, I figured I’d grab another random song that held significance with me.
Let’s go to Underground HipHop Legends The Roots , this time… from their 2010 album How I Got Over , to be exact. In that album is a particular song I bumped into that somehow related to added to the already interesting experience I was having at the time.
The song is called “A Piece of Light”.. and the first time I heard it was in the early winter of 2011. A couple thousand feet in the air of NYC.
I was going through my phone , messing around with it out of boredom as the plan was descending into LaGuardia airspace. This wasn’t my first trip out to NY for music, but it was my first one where I would get to experience it’s legendary “winter”. I say legendary because I’m Southern Californian transplant living in the devil’s armpit, otherwise known as hot-as-hell Phoenix, AZ.. which I dig.. I just hate it’s damn weather. I remember listening to folks such as Pennywise recount war stories of NYC’s witch’s tits weather which he described as “brick”… the hell does that even mean? It’s so nonsensical, it actually makes sense. A winter NYC sounded so cold that nothing makes sense!
So, here I am, looking out the window.. same beautifully industrial skyline. Same road works. Same deep-dark blue coastline with hundreds of bland-grey patches of waves. The difference was night and day, though; gone were the green trees,replaced with dull, dead brown. The sky was grey with a thick overcast. The city looked as if it were besieged by an evil weather deity.
But ALIVE. I don’t know how else to describe it. It looked impervious to anything which would deter the normal municipality. It felt invincible. It even looked invincible. It looked rugged, a “pretty-ugly”.
Maybe that’s why this barebones song by The Roots , which featured Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian, and Haley Dekle, struck such a chord.. especially after I had let it run a few times in my ear buds while heading to my hotel. ?uestlove’s drums represented the heartbeat of an immortal city ( I swear to you, the cymbals kicked in right as the tires touched the ground). The trio’s harmonies represented the soul: foreground melodies representing the fixated, almost myopic paths of citizens who traveled to their own tune. The background vocals felt fading in and out like the memories of yesteryears’ souls who’s impact on such a unique city is still felt, when you look at the buildings and soak in the multitude of cultures NY has to offer.
It felt soulful, it felt a little dark, but it felt hopeful. It felt victorious. It felt loving. It felt disconnected. It was everything.
The way the song blanked the roar and deafening metallic, high-pitched sound of the trains stopping. The way you are immediately exposed to fresh(er) air when stepping out of the damp stairway onto the glistening, wet streets of New York. It felt like a winter song, to me.
The record was bigger than life to me; and given the surreal feeling of entering unchartered territory of my indie music career, plus the “uncharted terroritory” of a very-much-alive city with thematically schizophrenic tendencies I was just then discovering, it made so much sense. NYC makes every moment feel larger than it’s own immediate existence.
I honed in on personal experiences when writing lyrics in my head in warm, crowded train-cars; when I’d skip down the train stairs, or while walking to and from locations. When it was all said and done, and I was leaving the tri-state area in order to return to the mono-seasonal Phoenix, AZ, I played it as my trip’s swan song.
… and the cymbals kicked in right as the wheels took off.
Let me know what yall think of this edition of Ear Buds!! Does any record speak to you in such a fashion?? Let us know here!!
Until next time, RoQ Riffs!!!
..you can purchase The Root’s project How I Got Over via iTunes… give it a listen!!