I really like music. It brings a lot of good feelings out in me. It is also a really good motivational tool when I am doing a project. For instance:
-Apostles of Hustle- National Anthem of Nowhere (Used for relaxation and zoning out)
-The National-Boxer (A great casual drinking night with the boys in suits album)
-Mos Def-The Ecstatic (I like cleaning to hip-hop. So what?)
-Spoon-Ga Ga Ga Ga (It’s really good running music)
and many, many more examples. Needless to say, music fills a motivational role for me or an emotional need and helps me get through the day. In fact, this weekend I finally watched Shut Up and Play the Hits the documentary on LCD Soundsystem’s final concert.I was in tears because it was so inspiring watching such a humble man succeed and be able to choose to exit gracefully. I want to have that much respect, talent, and pride in what I do someday.
But for now I am broke and unemployed. Listening to any of my inspirational music is not making me happy. I am very lost and can’t be encouraged right now to follow my dream because I am so overwhelmed with debts that I can’t pay and the inability to do any traveling to find a job or even know what job I want. Hell, I was going to start pawning off assets of mine and the only thing of value I own is my dignity. I really am at the lowest a middle class post grad living at home with his parents can get.
Fortunately though, in my vast and slightly pretentious modern album collection, I have something just for my depressed unemployed anxiety.
The album is called Good Things and the artist is Aloe Blacc.
Aloe Blacc is modern soul artist who got his original start in hip-hop as one of the duo in Emanon. Officially he began as a professional in the business world as a consultant but was laid off and decided like many of us do after we lose our job to follow our dream. Fortunately, he had the talent to back his dream up. Being inspired by artists like Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, and other golden age crooners, Aloe Blacc has created a sound that resonates with pure passion but addresses many of the issues us twentysomethings are dealing with including lack of direction and little financial success.
On his album Good Things, Aloe Blacc’s sound includes a lot of gospel and chain gang style but has given them this modern and fresh feel full of hope and optimism but still bearing the pain and insecurity of being financially lost. Many of his songs talk about financial ineptitude and the pressure and success/failure of the daily grind. His hit single and as well as my favorite song on the album “I Need a Dollar” really addresses the desperation and need we go to for some financial security. In fact, HBO picked it up as the theme song for their series How To Make It In America. Sadly short lived the show and song are a perfect representation of the angst ridden American dream. The rest of the album plays a lot with these themes but also touch very personal and emotional needs of one who is lost. The song “Momma Hold My Hand” is so emotional and raw. It talks about the love and adoration a son has for his mother and how she can give him the inspiration to pursue his dreams. The album is full of these jubilant and depressing themes and beautifully encapsulates all the best parts of soul music. The crooning and ability to make you feel the up’s and down’s of life but at the end of the day know that it will be ok.
This album has really been great motivation for my job hunt because it reminds me that times are hard for everyone, but as long as you keep working eventually something good will come out of it. Not only that, a little pain is good for you to realize your true potential and dream a better dream for yourself. So I will have this on repeat for the next few days/weeks/months till I find a job. Definitely worth a listen.
*Interesting fact, Good Things was one of the albums NPR missed in 2010 and was in my top 10 of that year! Who is ahead of the curve now?