Lessons From…The Last (by Childish Gambino)

So, to be fair, I have posted before about a song from Childish Gambino, but I seem to gravitate toward his music. Maybe it has something to do with my admiration of his multiple talents (comedian, actor, rapper, songwriter, etc.) or how I relate to anyone else who happens to be an awkward, nerdy, POC with seemingly predominantly white friends and colleagues. I honestly don’t know, yet here we find ourselves once more.

Here is the song that has been playing on my computer/iTunes/iPod for the last few days and got me thinking way too much about non-school work related stuff.

Really you should listen to whole song, repeatedly, but what has had particular effect on myself has been the last line:

“I’m here for a good, not a long, time”

Considering this is a rap song, most would probably think this refers to simply living a life of luxury, ease, and excess. However, with the lyrics of the rest of the song, you realize it actually deals more with creating a legacy and presence and how such focus, desire, and work tends to end lives early with not many of the standard items of a typical, “fulfilled” life.

It’s the classic choice between quantity or quality, greatness or simplicity, a raging fire or a long burning candle. Do you want to leave a mark in the world and history if only for a moment or would you prefer a comfortable life filled with friends, family, children, and, hopefully, the standard comforts of modern life? Is there an option where both are obtainable or will there always be a divide among the two?

I think how you answer these questions says more about your personal views of artistry and a creative life than the possibility of a singular, true answer. Either way whether you choose the good time, the long time, or attempt some amalgamation of both, it is simply the first step, and it is up to you to still make the most of it. Perhaps, that is the true key of my fascination and admiration of Childish Gambino because he is certainly an individual working his ass off and trying to make the most of his time alive regardless if it is good, long, or both.

Thus endeth today’s lesson.

Lessons From…”Marvels” by Jason Chu

I have been reading comics since I was a kid. There was always something about them that caught my attention, even among the unending flood of available books from various libraries. As well, I have, more recently, been listening to randomly found artists on YouTube, Spotify, and other music finding sites. So, I took immediate notice when something found online married two of my favorite things:

Seriously, how great was that music video?! I have been playing it on repeat for the last few days. Naturally, I had to see if there were any bits of message that were worth further analysis. As always, SPOILERS ahead.

Yeah, I know there are no actual spoilers, but you knew this image was coming up.

Yeah, I know there are no actual spoilers, but you knew this image was coming up.

The song discusses the narrator’s (most likely Chu himself) relationship with comic books and the heroes he found within the colored pages. Comics have taken the place of myths and legends of the past. They are now the new means of instilling lessons and tales of grandeur that inspire generations to come. Basically, Comics are the new Greek myths. This is no more apparent than in the following lines: Just a boy, barely even into puberty/ these books gave me a vision of the super man I could be. Obviously, no one will obtain super powers from biological or chemical accidents, but these stories that a bunch of “nerds” obsess over are just as much a guide to life as the words and lessons found in any religious text.

They also tend to be more colorful.

They also tend to be more colorful.

Of course, these are still just stories which is just another fancy way to say lies. In a crisis, my defenders left me all alone/No power ring, ringing the bat phone/No SHIELD Agents, my whole world invaded/And heroes were nothing but pictures on paper. The second verse of rap tells the fall of the veil on the narrator’s eyes. He now sees that these comics and stories were false promises. That good guys don’t always win and that most of the world’s problems can’t be solved by a guy or girl in spandex and a cape. It is only after this realization that the narrator can truly become what he is meant to be. Sometimes, we need the dream and ideal image to pass our eyes, so that the truth can be seen. The perils and ideas of childhood must be left in childhood.

However, that does not mean that there are no gems of wisdom in the things of childhood. We tend to move past our pasts thinking that they have nothing to teach or give us. Yet, our pasts usually impart some of the best lessons of our lives. But I’ve learned: a hero isn’t about being super/We become heroes because of what makes us human. In the end, the lessons the narrator learns from his love of comics and their stories help him become who he is meant to be. Also, they impart the understanding that the core of the characters he loved was not found in their powers, but in their adherence to the ideas of service and sacrifice and humanity.

I mean his childhood obsession made for a pretty kick ass song.

I mean his childhood obsession made for a pretty kick ass song and video, so…

Ultimately, this song and video caught my attention for its overall message of hope and purpose and imagination and faith that But one small spark can light the whole night/So one small life can fight the good fight. And isn’t that the message and ideal of comics and stories in general?

Thus endeth today’s lessons.

Lessons From…Fuck It All (by Childish Gambino)

I was on a plane, and in an airport, for a few hours over the weekend and went sort of deep into my iTunes library. Well, deep for me because there is not much to begin with. Anyhow, I have been a fan of Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, for a while and was listening to his album Culdesac.  It’s a great album overall, and I highly recommend hearing it at your earliest convenience. In particular, one track, “Fuck It All”, caught my attention. Seriously, check it out:

Of course, I tried to see what knowledge I could gleam from this song. However, this time there really won’t be a need for a SPOILERS warning.

Don't need it but will still put it up.

Don’t need it but will still put it up.

The song speaks for itself for the most part, but there is one core lesson that I think drives the narrative and message of the music. It is found in the very title, Fuck it All. Yeah seems rather simplistic, but the best lessons usually are. We have a limited time on this Earth. We don’t know what the future of anything holds. We will experience horrible heartbreaks and exhilarating joys. In the end, all that matters is how we respond to these circumstances and what we do to make our desires happen.

In the words of Gambino, “I ain’t gonna be around for ever, so fuck it all.” Eat good, drink well, fuck awesomely, and strive to do what you want to do with and in your life. What do you have to lose?

Thus endeth today’s lesson.