To say that music has played a small role in my life is like saying my brother lived under the same roof as me; it’s an egregious misrepresentation of their respective impacts on me.
There really hasn’t been any sort of enjoyment that has been a part of my life like music. I can remember the contrasts of my mom playing African music CDs to my dad putting my brother and I onto jazz and reggae. Over the years, I got exposed to different genres, eras, and tempos. Although I may have spent most of my time in the car hearing the NPR morning report, every moment I heard a glimpse of some new music, I’d always be eager to learn more about it.
The first time I really ever dived into music on my own was when I got access to my first iTunes account and iPod Nano. Well, it wasn’t MY iPod, but I just kind of took my mom’s square Nano and started loading up songs I’d heard from my friends. The first album I ever bought was 21 by Adele and I played that the whole summer it released, along with a lot of Black Eyed Peas (The Beginning was incredible). I later saved up and got an iPod Touch, then upgraded again to the one that had a loop strap, which I wore proudly.
It was at this point roughly in my music exploration career that my dad showed me a new company that allowed you to just stream any song you wanted at any point. This was Spotify. I thought I was the coolest kid on campus knowing I could listen to and play any song I wanted, not having to worry about getting iTunes gift cards and purchasing music. It was thanks to Spotify that I really got the chance to really discover hip-hop. I played uncensored music for the first time and learned about the struggle of going through life when you didn’t know who you were.
I would say it was thanks to a lot of the music by Kanye West, Logic (before he went south), and C2C that gave me the belief that I could really be myself and succeed. Songs like “Runaway” or “Empire State of Mind” or “Alright” reminded me that I sometimes would just need to escape and soul search. I found through music that I could begin to make the difficult but necessary journey towards being a more confident version of myself.
Over the course of my exploration into music, I found out I enjoyed French rap artists, British R&B, Afrobeats, and every American genre in between. I learned I loved the greats like Nina Simone and Otis Redding, but also new artists like Berhana and DaBaby. Over the years, I’ve grown to expand my own interests in music beyond what I may have initially considered as “good.” My brother loves to poke me on how he plays me music before I’m ready for it, and he’s right. But music exploration comes at your own pace, so in that respect, I’m beginning to just be open to the fact that I may listen to someone that a friend may have never heard before and not just get unnecessarily upset at them for not “being on the wave.”
As of right now, my Spotify library of 2,802 songs are downloaded in the highest quality on my phone and take up 28 GB. I always want to carry my library with me everywhere I go. I want to have any song, any mood, any artist I enjoy to be within a few seconds away from me having a thought about their music. That weird anxiety about not having that music with me at any moment is why it takes up too much storage and why I have the highest quality music possible.
Music gives me the sense of escape that even in a short walk to class gives me the sense of simple reprieve and rejuvenation I want every day. In these five weeks of college, there have been countless moments of confusion, loss, or just raw frustration where music has been the one way for me to just feel everything all at once. It allows me to just zone into my own world and remind me of how I just need to enjoy being where I am.
Music is a part of my soul in a way that is intrinsic to me being the human I am. My library is a collection of memories, emotions, and artists that have played an incremental or even substantial amount in my growth. And for all those pieces, however mellow or angry or energetic they are, they all allow me to tune into my mind in different ways. That’s what music is all about. That’s why I’ll continue to share it and experience it with those I care about (plugging my Spotify username “noah_tesfaye”), because I know that if a song could help me grow, maybe it could help someone else also key into their own lives.
Being Noah Tesfaye #105: Music That Plays into My Soul
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