7th grade is probably the worst year of school for everyone, but I can’t help but think that I had it exceptionally bad. I broke my foot before the start of the school year and was, quite literally, called “cripple-kid” for the first 3 months of school. I only had a few friends because I was that quiet white kid who still wore dragon sweaters. Fortunately, one of my friends had cool older brothers who made him listen to cool music and, in turn, made me listen to cool music. I played my burned copy of “Train of Thought” incessantly and memorized an embarrassingly large amount of the album.
“Memories Live” was my favorite song, mostly because it managed to give me a sense of perspective that I severely lacked. In the first verse, Talib Kweli’s tortured “portrait of the artist as a young man” isn’t just a device for nostalgia, but a source of energy and direction – “like something coming through me /that truly just consumes me /speaking through the voices of the spirits speaking to me.” The thought that my growing pains could becoming something more than petty had never been put before me as an option (minus Linkin Park, of course). “Memories Live” gave me an understanding of what I was going through and a way to envision what I was going to become.
Nothing is too big or too small for Kweli. Couplets such as – “going back in time / like when you used to cut and had to go to the back of the line” are paired with “faces that are woven in the fabric of [his] consciousness / From cities where making 21’s a big accomplishment.” Every moment is a chance for reflection and revelation – every moment is a chance to turn something painful into something beautiful.