Fighting the Good Fight : How Oddisee Helps me Through my Depression

“Might of begin to tear up, my nose started to flare up, I’m not afraid of improving” – Word to the Wise

Despair, anger, excitement and above all else, fear. These are the emotions that I have been battling with over the last few months. I recently got an apartment with my lovely girlfriend, successfully learned how to not get lost on the subway in NYC (still needs a little work), found new friends and even started to learn how to DJ. No matter how big or small, these are events that have shown progress in my 27 year young life. I am proud, but on the other hand, these changes have added new responsibility. I now have to provide for a new apartment, try my best to learn the ins and outs of the city so I can effectively make a career change and better understand how to create time in my life for relationships. My life seems to be happening faster than I can process, my emotions are all out of whack; there are less people in my life that I receive support from and each day teaches me that nothing is guaranteed. Some call it an early identity crisis (shout out to D.C. Comics), others call it anxiety and depression.

“What’s a Crew, what’s a gang to a brother who been his thing all alone?” – “I Belong to the World”

Hip Hop artist Oddisee views it as growing pains. He reminds me that it’s ok to be afraid and with hard work and determination anything is possible. Born from an African American mother and Sudanese father, he grew up in Prince George County, Maryland, which is one of the wealthiest African American counties in the nation. He was afforded a cultivated and cultured worldview that has likely provided him sage like wisdom. His omniscient worldview is expressed through impactful poetry over a wide array of jazzy and soulful productions that would make Ali Shaheed Muhammad proud. Oddisee crafts nearly every single one of his songs from the ground up. He uses live instrumentation in his production. Every pluck of a chord, melodic hiss leaking through metal and thud of bass is usually recorded live and edited for his albums. His lyrics are consistently thoughtful and impactful. He wrestles with complex morals, the traditional American ideals of progression and his personal contradictions. Often he explains his mixed feelings of being a successful indie artist. He is essentially trying to do the best he can in a world that is hard, he’s not just a dreamer but a non-conformist to what the music industry deems popular. Oddisee has produced for soundtracks, commercials, podcasts and even your favorite indie artists (Joey BadA$$, Chris Faust, Fresh Daily). He’s an everyman, your favorite indie artist’s Mc and producer. In everything he touches, there is a hint of thoughtfulness and care in all his work.

“Motivated by fear, ain’t the best, but it works for me” – “Tomorrow Today”

https://soundcloud.com/oddiseemusic/tomorrow-today

Lately, his music has been helping me. It’s sort of soundtrack through my depression, with all the chaos in my mind lately, Oddisee helps me make sense of it, and shows me that it’s always possible to make an honest living and be proud of what you contribute to the world. He has the ability to rationalize and explore his thoughts in a clear and cohesive manner, for the better or worse. It just so happens, when he does it also helps me sort through my own insecurities and doubt. On his most recent album, The Good Fight, he has a song titled “A List of Withouts”. On it, he quickly raps within a verse that money coming and going predict the pattern I’m trying to define. With just that quick string of lyrics, he makes me face the question of if I am willing to sacrifice my belief system to make more money? Or will I stick to my guns and try to find my passion? I think I have always know that fear governs the decisions I make, either it be professionally or emotionally. As I grow and learn about myself and what I want to achieve, it dawns on me that fear and doubt is all a part of the game. In order for me to make it into the next day with my psyche intact, I need to be able to prepare for worse but expect the best.

“I ain’t start from the bottom, I started from the beginning” – “Tangible Dream’

When Oddisee explain his journey of personal success in such unpretentious detail, it stills my anxiety about what I believe I haven’t accomplished yet. It is a constant reminder that just changing my perspective a bit will go a long way.

“Anything I do is a part of me from the start” – “First Step”

Now while I don’t completely subscribe to Oddisee’s personal religion he mentions at times, I do enthusiastically believe in the spiritual values he professes in his work. As I grow, I have been learning to accept the unexpected, it is important to understand that just because I have a romanticize view of something, doesn’t mean hard work isn’t required. Being at the beginning of a life project is something to be proud of, days go by and I have thousands of ideas, yet I do not act on them. I’m at least glad that there was an instance in my life that I believed in myself enough to engage in anything I love in whatever capacity. I believe that all of these experiences not only enrich my perspective but also my soul. Without the first step there can be no destination, for the end and beginning are undoubtedly connected.

Vacancy by Jen Lee

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Nobrow is a relatively new comic book distributor from the UK that is giving indie developers their own platform to publish comic book style short stories, illustrations and art comics. Nobrow’s aim is to publish eco friendly books with magnificent quality. With the turn of each page, the each book has the ability to engage majority of a person’s senses. The comics’ smell like fresh carved wood, each page is cool to the touch and not waxy like typical comic book issues, and each story has a major artistic value. I mean, you can take page out of any book and hang it at any art gallery. Many of the stories aren’t about superheroes, supernatural events or fantasy, but have qualities of Aesop Fables; they explore questions of history, insecurities, self-discovery and morals.

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The first book I picked up from their inventory was Vacancy by Jen Lee. Vacancy is a new comic short story about a dog with glasses in a post apocalyptic future that realizes after years of waiting for his owners to return home, he is alone and has to venture out into new big bad world for the first time without guidance. Along the way, he befriends a raccoon and a deer for adventures in the wild. I know it sounds like a plot from a 90’s Nickelodeon Tv show, but this story was incredibly charming and warm-hearted. The main character, Simon the dog, makes you care about him instantly. He questions the world around him, but never himself. I found myself quickly relating to Simon, it’s clear he’s trying to embrace change and grow but has his doubts. As he progresses into the wild he knows he has to brave. Once again, the story is short but strong. The color choice is perfect for the story, warm orange lights the evening sky while dark greens and blues illuminate the shrubby. Art invites you into it’s world, it knows it’s tone and how it wants to show it’s beauty yet contrast it with broken and beating down landscapes. The book cost only $6.00; where you can purchase here. it’s worth it to have it in the collection to remind yourself that world can be scary at first glance, but if you brave on, you will be just fine.