I wake up before 5 am. There’s an intrinsic fulfillment that I get from starting my day before the daybreak. It isn’t easy to do because as much of a morning person that I am, I am equally a night owl. If doesn’t matter what time I go to bed, when the alarm on my phone goes off at 4 am and I hear that sample of the Dynamics’ “Happy Song,” I get energized and feel like it’s time to get the next day started. The song that starts my day is “Keys 2 the City” by Nipsey Hussle.
The song is in g minor, so to me, its bright moodiness sounds strikes me. At first, there’s synth lead on top of a light guitar strum and a soft drum pattern that feels sleepy; then it fades out. Then comes a one measure vamp that crescendos into a vocal sample for the chorus. The song begins like how I feel every morning: a little tired and I feel like laying back down, take a moment to get myself together, and shortly after I’m energized and ready to start my day.
The first two verse of the song are braggadocios. Nip is boasting about how amazing his life is, the money he has, the women, and blowing on some of the finest chronic that is grown in his home state of California…so I’ve been told. I think we should all feel as if our lives are amazing. We need that. Life is hard, and one of the things that keep us going is this self-distorted sense of self. Almost anyone of celebrated success will tell you are that after God, what is responsible for their accomplishments if an almost cartoon-like belief in self. Not only is there anything wrong with faking it until you make it, it’s the first step in disciplining what one wants from a dream, to habit that evolves into a lifestyle. You appreciate your equivalent to Hussle’s “Louis V, Gucci? Maybe/Nieman Marcus. Blue Mercedes” much more.
Verse three is much different. As the third chorus begins, the drums go mute and comes back during the vamp going into the verse. Neighborhood Nip starts off saying that almost every major record label passed on his demo because his gang-banging past made him a liability. There was no feeling upset that things didn’t work out, he came up what would be his mantra of “Fuck the middleman.” He released his albums Bullets Ain’t Got No Names Vol. 1 & 2; and that’s when everyone began to see his vision. Radical ideas with different mindsets are what change the world.
Almost everyone with formulaic success is disposable and can be replaced instantly. Because of this, there will be people who do not believe in what you’re doing. Once people are in a position of authority or power, their job is to maintain and further their success by not meandering too far outside the box. Everyone isn’t going to understand and they’re not supposed to.
“Imani ain’t gonna knot the streets/Gotta keep her close to me/Put that on the man that’s on the cross on my Rosary/Wasn’t always bangin’; but I speak about it openly/No shame in my game, [I] did my thang on the coldest streets/”-Ermias Ashgedom
There’s a major difference in doing something just for the sake of it and motivation. Once one finds is, it becomes your mission statement. I personally can relate to Nip here in some sense because my daughter-and my nephew-are a large part of why I get up at 4 am every morning. My life isn’t about me anymore and as of the fourteenth of February, it hasn’t for five years. Collection of experiences that will make up the dash between my birth and death date should be context on how to improve their own life. Within reason, some of this means treating myself and reveling in the aspects of success. I personally should try to have more moments like the first two verses of this song that I’m writing about.
“Who the hottest on the west? All you niggaz know it’s me/So tell whoever got it locked that Nipsey Hussle stole the key/”
To begin the process of getting my mental wheels spinning, I was listening to “Keys 2 the City” last night. Cydney heard it playing from my phone and said “Daddy, it’s time to wake up already? We haven’t even gone to bed yet!”