Music Saved My Life: 808s and Heartbreak
Music is obviously a big part of us here at Distinction Music Management. In this poignant series Music Saved My Life we dive into songs and albums that have lifted us up when we needed it the most. Exploring what it means to have music literally save you from the depths of hardships. Learn a little bit more about our fellow human and maybe reminiscence on some old favorite tunes.
Seasonal depression is real and it fucking sucks. That's as "nice" and honest as I can put it. But you know...I don't have to tell you that. Underneath the covers, with that disheveled bun on your head, far from some sweatpants hair tied chillin with no makeup on fantasy. More in the realm of Law & Order reruns and pizza box hugs you find yourself praying for the power of hibernation. Surrounded in my own cocoon there is only one remedy for me. It's name is 808s and Heartbreaks and it is essential for those long and cold winter months. Hot off a successful tour and number one album fans and critics were shocked to hear that the highly anticipated project Kanye had been working on, Good Ass Job had been put on hold. It was supposed to be the final chapter in his series of College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation. That's what happens in life though, isn't the cruel saying: we make plans and God laughs?
Sadly this is what brings us to our story, like all tragic moments in our lives, they are unexpected and cruel. The reminder we must serve ourselves is that the ability to create is still there… Buried but there. We can hone in on that feeling thanks to 808s and Heartbreaks. Kanye took the aching loss from his mother’s passing and the heartbreak from his sudden ended engagement and made something hollow spill over with tender emotion. It's the album that breaks my ice cold and what seems constant heartbreak and emerges as something beautifully therapeutic.
Say You Will
You enter Kanye West’s distorted reality- how relatable with "Say You Will". Almost as if you've stubble upon diary entries, reading the vulnerability scattered in front of you is consuming. This track sets you up for being open with your own wants and needs. It somehow forces you to dig deep for those answers. It's analog beat carries on, you hear the heartbeat and then suddenly it's gone. There's an uncontrollable sadness about the production, but just when you think it's getting deeper into the depths of sorrow the heartbeat is back. Almost like us in the face of defeat- we just need a moment or two or seven to come back to life.
Welcome to Heartbreak
That piano plays and you know it's on. Not being able to match up with what societal expectations are. Where’s your degree? Where’s your fiance? Where are you working? All those unanswered questions that somehow naturally keep being asked like there’s a deadline looming above you. "Welcome to Heartbreak" is the perfect song for those who feel they are on a different path than the rest. We may not fit into the standard “one size fits all” and that’s okay...but we need to feel the failure to appreciate the success of our personal journeys. This is summed up perfectly as Kudi reassures us “And my head keeps spinning Can't stop having these visions I gotta get wit' it”.
The music video speaks for itself, this beautiful bright world surrounds West and not feeling an ounce of that energy or love from anyone, you resonate. The one person who came to for comfort up and left, with no explanation. How could they be so blatantly brutal? But there is a hidden message in this story. They left for a reason… and no one wants to hear that in the midst of the fight that inevitably ends it all. Use this track to get all the rage of feeling abandoned out but don’t forget that the true healing begins when you look inside.
Love Lockdown You’ve realized this isn’t working. The puzzle pieces seemed to meet in congruent corners all this time but now the missing pieces are nowhere to be found. Your mind races and you’re consumed with what to do next...and West in his music video takes that same position. You can tell he’s been mulling this over for awhile as he lays back nonchalantly in his all white ensemble. You don’t want the theatrics and neither does West, so this is gonna be short and sweet as you pray that the inevitable rage you’re about to experience and used to inflict is on the brink of exploding in front of you. As West wears all white in the video you metaphorically do too- the surrender is here and simply put, you are just done. Fight, scream, and break, you’ll just be traveling through “Gotta keep it going, keep the loving going, Keep it on the roll, only God knows” you’ve learned how to protect your heart and it’s time they learn.
“You wanna check into the heartbreak hotel? Oh sorry, we’re closed!” That line from Kanye’s Paranoid is just so heavy. The days of sobbing and self pity are over. Why though? I like to think it’s not that the hotel is closed for renovations of the soul, it’s NO VACANCY baby, filled with other lonely souls. And you know what? You broke my heart so you don’t get a room- this tune is perfect for letting your past frustrations out. Word to the wise, let that shit go.
We are built they way we are and sometimes there is an update or two. We ignore that update from time to time but at the core of our hard drive we are wired a certain way. With all devices we upload and delete. You know the exact time an app needs to leave and that’s when it messes with the internal hard drive of your spirit. That’s exactly where Kanye finds himself in this track, with a bug listening in on everything instead of digesting the information given. No one wants a program filled with artificially regurgitated information to tell them what to do. So hit that delete button and be released from the cold aluminum hands.
This hands down is my favorite track from the album. I remember it fondly on my Myspace profile page every time the world ended for me, which is surprisingly quite frequent when you’re a teenger. When you hear that first distorted synth in the distance you know there’s something to reach for even though you don’t know what it is- there’s a wild hunger in you to find it. Maybe it’s an answer to the misery. Then comes the running piano dancing in your head like a mapped out pathway, it wants you to follow the sound. The repetitive nature of the song isn’t a hindrance to the track but a reminder that there is more to do be done. It also serves as a comfort, “life’s just not fair” sometimes it isn’t and it’s a lot more restorative than you think to accept that cold hard truth. When the world closes in on you and you finally get the courage to get up and take a look around at the empty streets and walk for hours, play “Street Lights” you just might find what you’re looking for.
"Coldest Winter" is the final farewell to two important figures that tragically ended creating the inspiration for 808s and Heartbreaks. When Kanye cries out ‘her loves a thousand miles away’ he calls out to his mother who sadly died due to complications from cosmetic surgery. Donda West was the matriarch of his life and to lose someone so close, so loving, and so inspiring to the artist’s work was beyond wretched. Tack on the 6 year relationship with his fiance ending and he wonders what lies ahead of him as winter comes to a close. “Will I love again?” it’s a fair question..after all this heartbreak what happens next? As the video closes with these questions it seems he is ready to let go of the coldest winters pain, “If spring can take the snow away, can it melt away all of our mistakes?” as the figures chasing this woman running from her despair come in closer, she decides to let go- let go of the winter cold and wait for what’s next.