Confusion is the theme of my life. I like watching aimless characters & listening to transitory voices, mirror media. Otherwise I get down & afraid that something is wrong with me, 23 with not a lot going on, one year out of college, B.A. still in the cardboard mailer, still working retail, still living at home. It reads like the plot to Post Grad but I don’t have blue eyes like Alexis Bledel. Stop the movie at peak conflict & insert me, erase the last 45 minutes because that’s as far as I’ve gotten.
I hate how much I love “Song of Myself” but I cried in my American Literature class at 19 when my professor read parts of it aloud & I’m unable to detach. It’s like those supposed chemicals women release after an orgasm that induce attachment, my unforeseen Walt Whitman crygasm. I don’t read it often because I fear a total emotional collapse but I realized yesterday at work that I’ve found the musical equivalent.
The track “Contradiction’s Maze” from Oddisee’s The Good Fight is my 4-minute reminder that I’m big & full of contradictions & can probably do whatever I want. It is also my reminder that sometimes sitting on the couch is necessary & will provide me temporary happiness or at least will temporarily shut me down like a drone, which is also necessary. I find it difficult to write about male voices because they don’t often resonate with me – I feel like male voices are rarely in transit, which I know is generalizing, but men (white men) aren’t always tasked with growing up, boys will be boys even after they’re dead. I think they escape the fate of “figuring it out.” I find refuge from this in few places – Childish Gambino & Oddisee most consistently, Kendrick Lamar lately.
“Contradiction’s Maze” questions everything; nothing is safe or guaranteed, everything is weightless & buoyant, no tethers & near constant particle collision but every choice there is to make in life seems to possess a grave heaviness, the ever present spikey ball of lead in the stomach. You want to be kind to yourself in all the ways you know how but is kindness allowing yourself to relax or pushing yourself forward despite how tired you are?
Oddisee’s bravado isn’t lost; his strength isn’t compromised because he wants for opposites. He has options, he wants them all. Stability is a dream, a hardwired wish. He wants for homemade dinners & fast food, for vacations & the grind, for unlimited spending & frugality, for religion. I think I want a job at an office/I am the epitome of what a boss is/A paycheck every two weeks/over losing out on sleep for the fear that I go starving/and yet I wanna take more risks/I don’t want take more losses.
Maimouna Youssef provides the chorus, deceptively smooth, reflective & tinged with the simmer of panic, a near lamentation before Oddisee’s hustle shocks you to a boil. He doesn’t feel sorry for himself & he doesn’t seem apologetic for “wasting time,” but there’s no ease, he’s offering the unrest that I’m so accustomed to hearing from females. He isn’t reveling in the in between, he’s pushing against it, trying to find the balance. He’s unsure about everything & he’s troubled by it – there is no shrug here, no apathy or oh well. His discontent spiders in every possible direction, infinite tentacles touching infinite possibilities leading to infinite questions. I think I’m in a maze/I feeling conflicted within my brain/This contradictions got me feeling strange/Is a phase/Or is this the way?
I resonate with his selfish fear, the dread of the what if. How is anyone meant to know which choice is best & within what parameters is best defined? I think we are serving ourselves by questioning, by moving. A lack of clarity isn’t condemnable & sometimes we need to be reminded.