This past Wednesday I had the privilege to soak in music for a couple of hours with hundreds of other people in Orlando. It was a stop for J.Cole at Amway Center on his For Your Eyez Only Tour. Rap concerts have always been therapeutic to me, having attended shows by a slew of different artists all across Florida. August 16th was different. The circumstances of this country are completely different than the last time I attended a show of this caliber. It was healing. It was motivating. It was everything that I needed at this particular moment to remind me that I have to keep pushing no matter what. You can easily head over to Google to catch up on everything that is wrong with this world right now, I am not here to catch you up on any of that. For a minute I had gotten a bit stagnant at preparing for the future. I didn’t think there was going to be a future anymore. And any “future” that we were going to have was going to be even more heavily stacked for those in vineyard vine polos and red hats. Fuck those thoughts. We all fall cruel to negative thoughts, but I come back to you reborn from the ashes. J. Cole, Jermaine, the Dreamville guy who I thought was too boring in the beginning taught me a handful of things that night. These are lessons that I think all black youth should have been present to receive. I know that wasn’t possible for all of us this go around so I’ve got you covered with the 4 lessons Jermaine Cole taught at his For Your Eyez Only tour:

1. There’s Beauty In Living For The Moment

“Living only for the moment you’re going to feel the whole weight of it good or bad,” Cole told us. It is very easy to miss the blessings that you are currently getting when you are so caught up on what’s next or what happened in the past. Sure you may not be planning as aggressively for your future plans, but you are appreciating every blessing for what it is at that exact moment. This hit me hard because I know that I can easily obsess over what’s next or get caught up in the past that when good things are happening in that moment I don’t give them the proper attention that they deserve. Now I know that there is nothing wrong with taking everything for what it is and feeling it to the max. A piece of advice that I am going to hold close as I transition to new things this year.

2. The Black Family Is Beautiful

Cole took a seat and gave the audience an intimate performance of “She’s Mine Pt. 2”. The screens in the stadium were filled with home videos from various black families. They were all so happy, calm, and beautiful. Nowadays we hardly have images of a happy black family on television. Our families are ridiculed of needing assistance, of being homes without fathers, and homes of violence. That isn’t the case for most black families and I loved how he championed them that night. These images are encouraging and uplifting at a time where we don’t have our Obamas to look at so elegantly as we have for the past eight years.

3. Build A House In Our Communities When We Get Bread

The first thing we as black men especially do when we get a little bread is get a house in the white neighborhood. This ended up being Cole’s kryptonite as all it took was a little call to the police about suspicious “black activity” for them to assemble a SWAT team to his residence. Jay even spoke on this as well in his latest LP. Buying up our communities and building them up is crucial to our existence at this point in history. I think a lot of times we seek inclusion when we really should just be putting ourselves on. A very important reminder for me when I seek to become a home owner in a few years.

4. Black Men Can Be Carefree

There was a moment where Cole told all the tough men that it was okay to unfold their arms and let them sway Wednesday night. It was okay to lose yourself in the music and sing every word not worrying about how cool you look. Black boy joy is more necessary now than ever so I made it my mission to act a fool in that moment. I mean I was going to act a fool anyways but having permission I really did. Black men, we can be carefree, we can have fun, we can live without boundaries and still be black men.

All in all, I wouldn’t mind being buried at a rap concert. The energy is unmatched and outside of a couple R&B concerts here and there, I never want to attend music events outside of this genre. Music is always therapeutic, but there’s something about breathing the same air as an artist and really listening to the words they are saying that is incredible. I hope these lessons stir some thinking on your end as they have on mine, and as always I am here with you to talk about music, the black experience, and life after college, only on Black Grad Life.

Yours Truly,

Joe.

Featured Image: Andres Tardio @AndresWrites on Twitter.

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