Reverse Drake

IMG_0302I gave a LIFETalk at my school’s convocation about our responsibility to undo oppressive narratives about our kids. This is part 3 of 3 of the speech, edited and expanded to better fit a written format.

I recently became engulfed in the still-unresolved beef between Drake and Meek Mill. A good friend once introduced me to a new teacher by saying, “Taylor’s expertise is pop culture.” This was a high compliment. I can playback high profile, tweet-by-tweet coverage of any celebrity scuffle.

If you’re unfamiliar with what took place between Drake and Meek Mill, do not fear: I am here to navigate you through the inner workings of the rap game and feuds herein.

A few weeks ago, Nicki Minaj took to Twitter to express her disdain for “Anaconda” getting snubbed for the MTV Video Music Awards. As she lit our feeds up, her fiancée, rapper Meek Mill, decided to fire a few rounds on Twitter as well. What was on Meek’s mind? Well, he accused Drizzy Drake of using a ghostwriter on a song he was featured on for Meek’s latest album.

Now, if you don’t know a lot about the rap game, to be accused of using a ghostwriter is a pretty steep claim. What you are suggesting is that, according to kris ex, a rapper’s authenticity or realness is false. A rapper must first and foremost be real, and to use a ghostwriter is to be unreal, inauthentic, un-hip-hop.

Drake did not appreciate this. Drake, who has a Twitter, decided not to tweet back, but to release two dis tracks (“Charged Up” and “Back to Back”) aimed at Meek Mill. And, of course, Meek responded with his own dis track (name not worth remembering). And, naturally, Drake then played his favorite Meek-mocking memes on the screen behind him as he played his annual OVO Festival.

The beef got so hot (I AM UNSURE IF MY LINGO IS STILL CURRENT) that Whataburger tweeted, “Meek, if you’re going to serve beef, make sure it’s high quality.”

Most incendiary, in my opinion, is that there is actual video footage of Will Smith, Kanye West, and Drake laughing at a Meek meme on Will’s phone. Talk about beef served cold (I AM AWARE THE TEMPERATURE OF THE BEEF KEEPS CHANGING).

I started to wonder why I was so fascinated by this high-profile interpersonal conflict. At first, I thought that I just pay attention to the wrong things. I do hate when people try to psychoanalyze celebrity’s choices and lifestyles, but when the celebrities are publicly displaying their grievances with one another, it’s not my fault if the dirty laundry was hanging outside and I happened to catch a whiff.

But then I dug a little deeper into my fascination with this beef, and I realized that the same way that Drake escalated Meek’s tweet from 0 to 100 is the same way we teachers often escalate our students’ misbehavior to unnecessary levels of humiliation and oppression.

As the school year begins, we all hang posters with our expectations of students. They include classics like “keep your hands, feet, and objects to yourself,” “use appropriate language,” “raise your hand before speaking.” All of them boil down to respect.

But what happens when we don’t live up to what we expect from our students? What happens when we tell our students to respect us and then don’t return them the same respect we demand?

My students like to use the bumper-sticker phrase, “You have to give respect to get respect.” It’s a troubling motto, because it implies that we both wait for the other person to respect us, and end up in a standoff where no one ends up respecting anyone.

Yet we do the same thing with our actions towards students. A student will make a comment that is as small as Meek’s tweet, and we will escalate it to yelling, rude comments, negative reinforcement, and outright oppression of our students.

Sometimes a student’s facial expression will set us off. Other times a student will say something we misinterpret. How often do we wrongly punish a student for a small miscommunication that we mistook for disrespect, or overly punish disrespect we grossly overreacted to? How seldom do we apologize when we realize we over-disciplined?

I have been guilty. I have let my bad moods affect the way I speak to my kids. I have raised my voice after telling my kids to never raise theirs. I have given full, impassioned lectures in what could have been powerful, teachable moments.

It is our responsibility as educators to Reverse Drake. We have to take moments of tension from 100 to 0 real quick, not the other way around. If we don’t stop to reflect on our cultural biases, we can mistake positive traits like outspokenness for open disrespect. Our choice of words can cost us the ability to reach a student and love them like we are called to do.

I don’t mean that we allow our children to run all over us. I have a strong classroom management system in place, but there is a difference between good leadership and oppressive dictatorship. One makes people want to follow you out of mutual respect and desire; the other makes people follow you out of fear or rebel against you altogether.

Children absorb messages from us, and they are taking on some of our character every day they spend with us. My kids know and point out all of my quirks, and I have noticed some of them adopting some of them as we grow and learn together. Your kids will learn character traits from you. Are you living the character you want them to have? If the answer is not always yes, or even often yes, perhaps you should live up to your classroom expectations before you ask anyone else to do so.

Maybe you need to read into your responses and discipline like I read into celebrity beef, and check whether you are taking tweets and turning them into dis tracks. You know where Twitter beef never gets resolved? On Twitter. If it ever goes away, it is because of a private conversation between the two tweeters.

Or maybe you have continued cooking the beef long after it burnt. I know teachers who hold onto grudges with students for years. We are human. We are not infallible, or impervious to personal feelings or prejudices. What is important is that we recognize these emotions and biases and work actively to reverse them.

We have a greater duty to our kids than teaching them equations and sentence structures. We need to teach them good character, and we first do this by practicing good character in front of them. Our words and our posters and our expectations are worthless without congruence of actions. Squash the beef and dish out more grace, more compassion, more love. Learn to Reverse Drake, and get back to the heart of teaching: to show children their immeasurable worth and lift them up in a world that is constantly trying to bring them down. Your children need you more than ever.

Better Love

Depending on which day you ask me, I will tell you that my 7th graders are (a) hilarious, (b) adorable, (c) obnoxious, (d) too hormonal, or (e) horribly mean. That’s a lie: puberty allows them the unique opportunity to embody all 5 of these traits within one day.

I teach three different subjects, so I see some students two or three times a day. It is amazing (or horrifying) how a perfect angel in 2nd period can turn into the alien in the film Alien by 3rd period.

Because of these personality whiplashes, I never know whether to take some students’ comments as humor or insult. Today, on the eve of Valentine’s Day, my students took an intense interest in my love life.

I am asked three or four times a day by four or five students (for an average of 12-20 comments) about my love life. My students remain constantly concerned that I am not taking my personal life serious, that perhaps because I am a first-year teacher I am letting it fall by the wayside.

On a typical day, I will get some variation of the following questions:

  1. Are you dating anyone yet?
  2. How is your girlfriend? I know you have one. Is it Ms. So-and-So?
  3. Have you considered dating Ms. So-and-So? I can introduce you if you’re nervous.
  4. Did you go on a date this weekend? Why not?
  5. Are you worried that a girl won’t like your beard?
  6. You should get out more and try to meet new people. You know you have to put yourself out there if you’re ever going to get a girlfriend, right?
  7. Why did you break up with your last girlfriend? What if that was your last shot?

Don’t be jealous: I know you wish you had a tiny army of preteens who cared this much about your romantic well-being. Somehow I juggle these questions with various denials, quips, and general mopey faces and still manage to teach them subject-verb agreement.

One of the more insulting conversations I had was with one of my best students. That’s the thing about having good students—they have to go and get a big head about it. I was talking with her and her friend after school, and the friend was checking out guys on the football team as they ran to practice.

My student said, “Don’t you have a boyfriend?”

The girl, still maintaining eye contact with the backside of football players’ uniforms, replied, “Not at the moment.”

I thought this was hilarious, so I nudged the girl and said, “Single on the weekends, am I right?!”

And my student, without hesitating, nudged me and said, “Single all your life, am I right?!”

She moved down my list of good students immediately.

Today, I was met with an exponentially more severe amount of love life questions centering around my Valentine’s Day plans. In a truly Oscar-worthy monologue, one girl splashed me with a cold glass of reality:

“Mr. Taylor, don’t you want to have a family some day? You don’t have much time. You’re already in your 20s, so you need to get started soon. You haven’t even started dating someone, and you have to date them, marry them, and then have kids. Do you understand how little time you have? You already look like you’re in your 30s. Have you even shaved lately? Because it looks like you haven’t shaved in weeks. I’m worried about you.”

Cupid has not shot me with an arrow in a few years, but my students haven’t failed to take aim. And she was right: I haven’t shaved in 2014 at all.

In truth, I never find these conversations insulting. These are the type of absurdly hilarious comments that keep me going when the going gets tough and the kids get annoying. If I seriously worried about getting a girlfriend, maybe the story would be different. But believe me, my apathy about my romantic world balances out their sole interest in it.

What worries me is that some of my kids really do think it is the end of the world that tomorrow they will not receive a Valentine. Right now, some of my kids are figuring out a way to feign an illness or make up a significant other who “goes to another school”. As middle schoolers, they are wired in such a way that they can’t help but treat tomorrow as social life or death.

Several of them have started to roll the “L” word around in their mouth, seeing how it tastes when it is applied to someone other than family. Some of them are already regretting that they didn’t reserve it for their mom and dad.

Middle school romance is usually funny due to the total dramatization of a totally insignificant moment in their lives. I will comfort a girl crying over a boy one day, and the next day listen to that same girl go on and on about the boy in 7th period she hadn’t noticed before today. And somehow the universe always maintains a perfect balance of Drake songs that cover both the falling in and out of relationships.

As unserious as most of it is, my kids are discovering both the mushy-gushy side of staying on the phone long after curfew and the very destructive side of believing whole-heartedly they will never be worthy of love.

I recently read a Lorde interview in which she criticized the type of love-or-bust music that Lana Del Rey makes:

“I was just thinking it’s so unhealthy for girls to be listening to, you know, ‘I’m nothing without you.’ This sort of shirt-tugging, desperate, ‘don’t leave me’ stuff. That’s not a good thing for young girls, even young people, to hear.”

Leave it to a 17-year-old to articulate a truth even adults have trouble understanding.

My kids are currently working on a poetry project in which they pick out the poetic conventions used in their favorite songs and analyze what the song means based on how the artist uses these conventions. I have to check over their analyses before they are allowed to make their posters. As I was going through their papers, one device kept popping up: hyperbole, hyperbole, hyperbole.

I started to tell a few of them to pick out different devices, but after combing through the lyrics, I found that they had picked out everything there was.

Miley Cyrus has a song on the radio letting her boo know that she “just started living” when she met him.

Katy Perry has a song on the radio letting her boo know that all his dirty laundry never made her blink “one time”.

Drake has a song on the radio letting his boo know that she is “everything” that he needs.

The band keeps playing, and kids keep taking it to heart. These hyperboles are slowly slipping their way into children’s subconscious, convincing them that this is how love works.

When those children become adults, they don’t know how to be alone because the radio tells them that life doesn’t start without a significant other.

When those children become adults, they don’t know to be together because they expect people to fulfill every need humans weren’t made to fill.

Eventually the joke about middle school romance gets old, and the “L” word starts to leave a bitter taste in their mouths. That same student who made the “single all your life” joke about me was sitting with me after school one day, updating me on all of the hot gossip (don’t judge; it’s really juicy in junior high). She finished up a story about a complicated love hexagon, and finished by saying, “People be taking relationships too serious. That thing that you’re doing ain’t all that serious at this age. Right now, you’re just playing. That’s why I had to break up with my last boyfriend: we were having fun, and then he got too serious. I told him he was too young to know what he was talking about.”

Do you ever get the feeling that we are all too young to know what we are talking about? That my students, Lana Del Rey, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Drake, me, and you all share that in common?

True love is serious; it is not meant to be taken, or given, lightly. But please hear this: You are valuable with or without a significant other. Your worth does not come from the love that you get but from the love that you give.

Today, if you are alone, look around. There is someone there that you failed to notice, just like my kids when they finally see the cute boy or girl next to them in 7th period. And I don’t mean that romantically for you: you are not alone if you have even one friend. I have never met a single person that didn’t feel lonely every once in awhile. Bright Eyes put it best: “You’re not alone in anything/you’re not alone in trying to be.” So stop trying to be.

Today, please look up. Please love the people around you, and please love yourself.

A student who is analyzing a Christian rap song asked me what humility is, and I said, “It means you know that any good thing you do is because of God and not you.”

She asked, “Oh, so it’s like having a low self-esteem?”

I clarified, “No, people my age confuse humility and low self-esteem all the time. A low self-esteem means you hate yourself, but humility means you love yourself but not because of what you’ve done but what God has done in you. You are not the reason you are valuable, but that doesn’t make you any less valuable.”

It’s time we tell ourselves a better message about love. Am I right?

Soundtrack to My Year

I wanted to take some time to talk about the greatest year of my life so far, but I couldn’t find a way to do it without being sappy. So, since I love music and since this year gave us some phenomenal music, why not write about my year through the soundtrack to it? After writing this out, it seems I said more about the music than myself; I think it’s fitting though, since this music says more about me than I ever could.

Here are my 14 favorite albums of 2013. Yes, it would make more sense to choose 13 albums for the year 2013; but I refuse to let you box me in like that, world!

Honorable Mentions: J. Cole’s Born Sinner, Atoms for Peace’s AMOK, A$AP Rocky’s Long.Live.A$AP., HAIM’s Days Are Gone, Tegan & Sara’s Heartthrob, The Great Gatsby Soundtrack.

14. Pedestrian Verse, Frightened Rabbitpedestrianverse

This was the first album of the year to catch my attention. The album starts out with “Acts of Man,” a sad song about how terrible humans are to one another when it comes to love: “Let’s promise every girl we marry we’ll always love them when we probably won’t.” It’s a sad sentiment, but by the end of the song he admits to his girl that he is just as bad as other men, “sorry, selfish, trying to improve.” It’s the beginning of an album full of blunt, honest confessions about what it means to be human. When the end of the album comes, you feel like being a little more honest with yourself and others too. “There’s still hope so I think we’ll be fine,” the singer offers, “in these disastrous times.” It was a great start to a year of self-improvement and honest admissions in difficult situations.

13. Love in the Future, John Legendloveinthefuture

This was not a year of romantic love for me, but that’s okay: I got to live vicariously through John Legend’s swooning love album. I never thought I would like one of his albums as much as I did 2004’s Get Lifted, but this one had me (and  my students) crooning along often. When the title was announced awhile back, I thought Legend might describe what love will like in future times; instead, he describes love the way it should look right now. “I wanna get caught up in your love tonight/you can help me just breathe.” It’s these simple ideas that make Legend’s album a hopeful look into true love.

12. Nothing Was the Same, Drakenothingwasthesame

I have always enjoyed Drake’s music, but everyone knows I have beef with him. I used to hate how he would brag about being the best rapper just before admitting how self-conscious he is. It made both ideas of Drake, the boastful and the heartbroken, ring hollow for me. But with Nothing Was the Same, I got over it. He’s doing exactly what I, and most of us, do; we all pretend to be more confident than we are to help us through times of extreme vulnerability.This album is a perfect example of how things change and people grow apart. On “Connect,” Drake makes this confession: “She used to say, ‘You can be whoever you want, even yourself’/I show up knowing exactly who I was and always leave as someone else.” In my first year of post-grad life, as I moved to Dallas, lost good friends, made new ones, and searched for myself, this was an album I needed along for the ride to figure just who exactly I am.

11. Let’s Be Still, The Head and the Heartletsbestill

Let’s Be Still is music for the soul. While it may not have the same amount of songs that burrow into your mind like their self-title debut, Let’s Be Still explores the changing of seasons in powerful ways. On the title track, the singers ask you how necessary it is to keep up with the modern world: “The world’s just spinning a little too fast/If we don’t slow down soon, we might not last/So just for a moment, let’s be still.” I’m in a time of my life where everything seems to be swirling around me and I’m just trying to catch my breath. When I put this album on, the band gives me no choice but to sit and listen for a spell. And I’m not going to argue.

10. Because the Internet, Childish Gambinobecausetheinternet

When Donald Glover said that people who loved Camp would hate his new album, I trusted the guy and stopped looking forward to Because the Internet. But now I’ll never believe the guy again. No one was better able to capture the feeling of being a young adult in 2013 than Gambino. “House full of homies/so why I feel so the opposite?” he asks. In the Internet Age, where we are all over-connected but feel more isolated than ever, Gambino brilliantly expresses these feelings lyrically and even musically.Much of the music seems disconnected from the moment, as some songs trudge along with computer-made beats filled with solitude while others find Childish seeming to change his mind about whether he wants to rap or sing midway through.He invites you to a party at one point, then realizes he didn’t invite all of these other people, and tells everyone to get out. Well, the album is no party, but you’re invited to the isolation afterward; on the last track when he says, “because the internet, mistakes are forever/but if we —- up on this journey, at least we’re together,”  it’s a party we’re all familiar with these days.

9. My Name is My Name, Pusha Tmynameismyname

I’ve been a fan of Pusha T since he proved himself to be the best guest on Kanye’s 2010 magnum opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I followed what felt like hundreds of guest features where he constantly showed up the other emcees and I not-so-patiently waited for this album. Right before it dropped, I feared I had overhyped it with the three-year wait, but then my fears were put to rest. From the opener, “King Push,” where Push boasts that, “I made a lane ’cause they blocked ours,” to the absolute jam “Numbers on the Boards,” where he talks about his “36 years of doing dirt like it’s Earth Day,” this album just makes me feel cool by proxy. Pusha thinks highly of himself, and you can’t help but feel the same about yourself while rapping along at embarrassing volumes in the car. Of course, it’s the serious moments where MNIMN really shines. On “40 Acres,” after reflecting on his family and how his mother left his father after 35 years of marriage, Pusha comforts her with these words: “You should never question if you ever stood a chance with him/Only question is: did you enjoy the dance with him?”What’s cooler than telling your mother you love her after bragging about your drug-dealing days?

8. Beyoncé, Beyoncébeyonce

With the way I freaked out about this album, most people would think this would be my #1 of the year. Not quite, but that’s no insult to Beyonce; there was just a lot of good music this year. I have long been obsessed with the Queen Bey for the fact that she seems perfect in every way. Not only did she have the coolest way of dropping an album (and ruining every other pop star’s year), Beyonce made the defining album of her career. With blunt honesty about her, uh, intimate moments with Jay Z, and her shunning of radio-friendly tunes to adopt the guise of Yoncé, an even cooler persona than Sasha Fierce, the Queen Bey made an album that surprises in ways I only thought possible from Kanye. It’s not just a feminist album; it’s an album for all of humanity to feel good about yourself. I woke up like this!

7. Modern Vampires of the City, Vampire Weekendmodernvampires

In a year of albums about what it means to be growing up right now in 2013, Vampire Weekend pretty much put it the best. “Age is an honor; it’s still not the truth/Wisdom’s a gift but you’d trade it for youth,” singer Ezra Koenig pontificates. The album is rife with thoughts like this, thinking about how we choose to grow up–if at all–and whether there is anyone out there who might save a little grace for us. At one point Koenig questions how God could choose to be so mysterious in his cheeky way (“through the fire and through the flame, you won’t even say your name/only ‘I am what I am’/but who could ever live that way?”)–almost as if to really ask the listener whether we ourselves could benefit from a little mystery in the age of the over-share.

6. Reflektor, Arcade Firereflektor

It’s been said a thousand times over, so I won’t harp on how joyous Arcade Fire’s new album sounds. What I loved about this album is the influence the hundred(ish)-piece band took from a Kierkegaard essay, “The Present Age,” which basically states that we live in a time where people would rather reflect on doing great things than actually doing them. Amidst all of this sitting around, Arcade Fire looks to music as our possible redemption (taking from another influence, that of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice) but the ultimate ending, though beautifully crafted, seems to find the two lovers separated by the inevitability of death.But this sad conclusion seemed the only possible way to go when Butler questions halfway through the first song: “We’re still connected/but are we even friends?” It’s yet another moral tale for our times about searching for something more in our isolated world. Amidst all that joyous noise is a lesson to be learned: Are we doing anything real or are we just reflektions?

5. Magna Carta Holy Grail, JAY Zmagnacarta

People didn’t seem to care for Magna Carta, but I think it was one of the best things Hov has ever done. If he had cut two or three songs, I feel like it would have received a much better rap. But who cares what you people think! The concept of the blackout art alone (Basquiat once said that he blacks words out not so that you’ll pay less attention but so you’ll pay even more attention; Jay Z said America is the same way, trying to black out the plight of African-Americans) makes the album worth a look and listen. Tracks like “Picasso Baby,” “Tom Ford,” and “****withmeyouknowigotit” are instant Jay classics, but it’s deep cuts like “Oceans” that made the album. On the Frank Ocean-assisted track, Jay and Ocean contemplate what it means to “make it” in America as a black man. “I hope my black skin don’t dirt this white tuxedo,” Ocean concedes. Elsewhere Jay Z talks about how his success gives many ignorant Americans the excuse to think that him “coming from under the thumb of this regime” is an “everyday thing” for African-Americans. At this time in my life, when I am learning about and trying to fight the social inequalities of our nation, Jay Z’s words cut deep and keep my eyes open to the injustices we have yet to overcome.

4. Pure Heroine, Lordepureheroine

This gal. If you had asked anyone which female artist would release the best pop album this year, Lorde would not have been anyone’s answer because we didn’t even know who she was. But now, the results are in. Though Beyonce came through and took over the end of the year, Lorde had our ears for most of it. This album dances the lines between pop, hip-hop, and indie. But the real greatness of this album comes from the 16-now-17 year old’s incredibly mature outlook on the world: “We live in cities you’ll never see on screen,” she recognizes. The “Royals” singer took no prisoners in dismissing the culture of materialism we have all become new slaves to (as Kanye put it in less radio-friendly terms). While she wrestles with the mainstream (my personal favorite is when she says, “I’m kind of over being told to throw my hands up in the air”) she also deals with growing up and growing old: “I know we’re not everlasting/we are train wrecks waiting to happen/one day the blood won’t flow so gladly/one day we’ll all get still.” It’s a deep thought for a girl who was only 16 when she wrote it, but it’s an honest look at mortality that most of our “we’re gonna live forever” youth culture never bothers to think about.

3. The 20/20 Experience: Part 1, Justin Timberlake2020experience

I have no shame in saying that this album was one of my most played of 2013. It was the feel-good album of the year. I disliked a lot of Part 2, but Part 1 had me doing my pseudo-Justin impersonation (both dancing and singing) all. year. long. There is not one song on this album that will make you feel bad. From the R&B-infused opener “Pusher Lover Girl” to the slow-burning closer of “Blue Ocean Floor,” I was all about this long-player. In a time where we want everything fast and hate when something demands our attention for longer than a few minutes, JT asked you to sit for longer than an hour to listen to radio jams that lasted almost 9 minutes. It was a bold comeback, and that confidence in the music as well as the confidence of the lyrics (“I heard you tell your girl friend you could do better/well, I’m the best ever”) made this album my pump-up soundtrack any time I needed confidence.

2. Trouble Will Find Me, The Nationaltroublewillfindme

The National’s new album got me in all my feels this year. I went through a lot of transitions and growing up this year, and The National was there for all of it. “If I stay here, trouble will find me,” Berninger acknowledges on the title track. I wasn’t in any particular trouble this year, but I knew there were things, people, or even just thoughts I needed to get away from. Trouble Will Find Me is an album about recognizing that where you are may not be destructive at the moment, but staying put might be your downfall. “I need somewhere to be,” Berninger notes, “but I can’t get around the river in front of me.” In the end, you get the feeling that to grow into the person you are supposed to become, it’s not going around the river that is going to help; it’s through. On the cusp of those defining moments, The National provides the perfect backdrop for feelings of fear and insecurity just before taking the next step.

1. Yeezus, Kanye West

yeezus

I hate to not surprise anyone, but Yeezy did it again. When this album came out, I did not expect it to be #1 on my list for most of the year. It’s abrasive, sometimes unpleasant to listen to, and in general not for mixed company. But over time, the ideas and the music got into my system and I could not get them out. At the height of his musical creativity and in a moment where America loves to hate him (like most moments), Kanye embraced the idea of himself as a villain (“the monster about to come alive again,” he warns on the opener) and made us all think about our place in this world and who’s on top of us. On “New Slaves,” he makes an uncomfortable sermon about how we are all enslaved to materialism, racism, corporations, and societal standards in general. We have come to accept too many things as okay in our culture, and while we reject Kanye as unacceptable, he asks us to consider what should really be unacceptable: a man who believes that he is made in God’s image despite the fact that he’s only “doing 1% of what God wants me to do right now” or a culture where people hate themselves so much that they cut musicians down who they have never even bothered to really listen to. When Kanye calls himself a god, or calls himself Yeezus, we call it blasphemy and write him off. Meanwhile he explains over and over again that he’s not saying he is the equivalent of Jesus, but spent too many years pretending he wasn’t made in the image of God, wasting time drowning in self-loathing and other people’s negative opinions of him. Instead of rejecting his sermon, perhaps it’s time we hear it for what it’s worth, take the good parts out, and leave the rest. Kanye made the album quickly, writing many of the lyrics in less than an hour, as a way of showing us that for all of its imperfections there is some truth to saying what’s on your mind and expressing your frustration with the world in both right and wrong ways. Yeezus is an album about the state of affairs in America in 2013. Its brilliance lies it in its imperfections; even if it’s not all right, at least Kanye is trying to tell the truth, or even just search for it. As I fail over and over again at being an adult and a teacher, Yeezus was a message I needed this year. I am mostly wrong about everything, definitely imperfect, but I am still made in God’s image. We all need to pay less attention to what other people think of us and more attention to how we can keep reaching up and beyond ourselves.

What albums are on your list? I’m looking forward to what 2014 has to offer, but I’m pretty sure this guy will have the best album: https://soundcloud.com/therealbenshady/stoplights.