You may have noticed that I haven’t been writing quite as frequently lately. If I’m being honest, I have thoroughly lacked inspiration. Life feels dreadfully dull as if I’m going through the motions without feeling much at all. Every week, I’ve been starting new pieces based on my emotions or experiences, but the thoughts seem to go nowhere. The ideas are empty and weightless despite their relevance to what I’m enduring in my head. As a result, I abandon them. However, this past week I went on a somewhat spontaneous trip to Puerto Rico. As much as I adore Philadelphia, it has been feeling far too claustrophobic for me, and I needed an escape. It feels like one thing after another happened these past few months, and my heart could only take so much. I was reaching my breaking point. Part of me thought about how I could abandon all responsibilities and run away to somewhere far and remote, just to reset and get myself right. Maybe I will for real one day. But to live in the moment and find joy in what the world has to offer, I needed a change of scenery. I ran away from my problems, and it was the best decision I ever made. I travel often, but this time was different. It gave me the strength and time to clear my mind of the chaotic emotions and to re-approach the situation with clarity and logical thinking. It’s incredible what new views and people and foods can do for a person. To help possibly inspire all of you to find a new adventure, I’ve written this post to demonstrate how good traveling is for the soul. And maybe that alone will be enough to spark some inspiration in my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Philadelphia with all of my heart. This city has shaped me into who I am today, for better or for worse. But sometimes, when shit hits the fan, those familiar settings that once brought you peace and comfort bring you pain and suffering. Certain places remind you of broken promises and opportunities. It just gets to be overwhelming. And it can be a bit intense when living in a city, where time can’t seem to slow down even for a moment to give you some time to breathe. For instance, in Killer Mike’s “Anywhere But Here,” he raps, “let the city peel away right from under you, there are too many ghosts in this town. I can hear them calling out to me.” I always thought living in Philly was the one thing I was sure about because of how much I loved the communities here. Yet as I got older, I became less naive. I realized that you can create that feeling anywhere when you stay long enough in one place. But that same sentiment can be what traps you as if you can never outrun your mistakes or problems. And then it haunts you. You surround yourself with those who build you up and support you, but you’re also forced to face those that fuck you over and hurt you. Philly may seem like a big city, but those streets always find a way to connect. It’s a lot smaller than you’d think. I was starting to feel like Drake in his song, “Free Smoke,” when he rapped, “I wanna move to Dubai, so I never have to kick it with none of you guys.” I’m eternally thankful for those that are always there for me, but goodness, sometimes I just want to run away from everyone. You work to build that notoriety, but once you achieve it and eyes are on you, the pressure adds on significantly, and you crave that anonymity. Your moves feel like they’re being watched through a microscope, ready to be called out on every misstep and fuck up.
Furthermore, Flatbush Zombies wrapped up that feeling in their song, “Quicksand,” when they said, “sometimes I wanna run, run a million miles away. But there’s nowhere to go, it feels like I’m stuck in quicksand/shit is fucking with my brain. I’m in way over my head, feel like I’m in quicksand.” That’s a highly relatable feeling, to seem as though you’re sinking, but you’re too stuck to do anything about it. I knew some changes that I needed to make to bring myself peace, yet getting myself to that point seemed the most challenging aspect. So I didn’t even bother trying. I wallowed, and I cried, and I despaired. And then, I fled.
I think I had been feeling stir-crazy since the start of the pandemic. I was lucky to have experienced the most life-changing trip to Singapore and Thailand with my friends at the beginning of 2020. But, undergoing that and having this new take on life just to be thrown into quarantine and experience one of the most challenging times for my mental health was tough. And I feel like nothing was really the same after that. Not that I’m unique in that regard, I think we all relate to that. But I think my enthusiasm was starting to dwindle, as was my optimism. And I really didn’t know what to do. As things began to open up, something kept preventing me from traveling. I typically set a goal of visiting two new countries a year, with 2020 being my last year of fulfilling that temporarily. But for some reason, even when we were in the clear to travel, and prices were lower, I felt a new sense of anxiety. Traveling was something I’ve done on my own since I was 17 years old, but it was feeling extra daunting. Perhaps everything feels like that right now. But it became a balancing act, a seesaw of feeling manic and not having a care in the world while also wanting to give up and do nothing, that pushed me to emulate J Cole’s “Stay.” In the song, he questions, “should I skate town? Catch a Greyhound. Change my name right, catch a plane flight, out the country, let them muh’fuckers hunt me, come catch me if you want me/but where I’ma run to?” I felt that desire to be spontaneous and just live rather than feel so anxious and calculated. I wanted to avoid all of the things keeping me from finding refuge in my thoughts. I especially love that song because he says, “I’m comin’ back/believe that/to show the little *, you can achieve that.” As much as I wanted to run away and never turn back, I don’t think that’s who I am. Even now, the thought crosses my mind all the time. But I would just have too much unfinished business.
Despite my usually horrible decision-making process (and neglect of coming to an actual decision), the allure of getting away was enough to convince me, even if just for a few days. What was most surprising about this decision was that I chose to do so just a few weeks before my show, which was, in all honesty, a terribly irresponsible idea. But if I’m being transparent, I had no motivation to set anything in motion for it. I wasn’t preparing the way I should have been because I was hurting, and the lack of productivity felt like I wasn’t utilizing that time anyway. It was like a voice in my head, ironically enough, telling me to not think about the show and every possible outcome. Likewise, Tyler, The Creator, took on the position of that persuasive voice in the song, “Okaga, CA.” As he speaks to his significant other, he says, “don’t you wanna go, girl. Let’s go, let’s go, right now/The earth is so rough I’m not calling your bluff/take me higher. Let’s make our way to the Okaga cave.” These promises that you’ll find what you need somewhere new were all that I needed to reassure myself that this was best for me.
It was a nice feeling to just escape without thinking about my obligations. Although I’m slightly paying the price for it now as I’m frantically trying to catch up on work, I don’t think I would have gone back and done things differently. Wiz Khalifa’s “Zoney” explains how I felt confined in my walls when he exclaimed, “I’m packing up my bags/I gotta catch a plane/I can’t be at home, I gotta be away.” I’m not a hermit by any means. If anything, my spiraling depression was causing me to spend far less time at home. Instead, I went out to bars every other night, trying to fill my voids and distract from my stress with company and alcohol. But everywhere I went, it all felt the same, and I needed something far more tranquil. So I decided to say, “fuck my 9 to 5, disappear for weeks, wash up on a beach/catch a lil’sunrise,” as summarized by Tobi Lou in his song, “Just Keep Goin’.” Once again, a gross exaggeration as I literally left for 4 days, and I work as a freelancer, so there’s no job to disappoint; I just don’t get paid. But you get the sentiment.
Once I reached the airport, I instantly felt like I could breathe. I wasn’t even concerned about my flight or anything. I had two hours to kill. So, I enjoyed a mimosa with some older women going for a girls’ trip to Jamaica and even invited a young gentleman who had approached me to join me for a drink. I felt more like myself than I had in months, and it was so refreshing to be free of that negativity. For the first time in what felt like far too long, I didn’t feel overwhelmed with existential dread. My new positive outlook felt similar to Lil Nas X’s in his song, “C7osure (You Like)”, in which he tackles relatable thoughts of frustration. In the song, he rhymes, “brand new places I’ll choose and I’ll go/I know it don’t feel like it’s time, but I look back at this moment, I’ll see that I’m fine/I set boundaries for myself, it’s time to cross the line.” A lot of the pessimism I was feeling back home made it difficult to see past what I was feeling then and there. It was tough to focus on work, especially the potential with my shows. While on the trip, I actively dreaded going home, to the point of wanting to cry at the airport because I hated the idea of it. But in reality, feeling pure, unfiltered happiness, even if just for a few days, showed me that everything terrible I was feeling was minuscule compared to the rest of my life. I had far more important things to worry about. My whole experience being such a drastic shift in emotions merely from a change in scenery made me think about my favorite part in Anderson .Paak’s “Make It Better.” In the song, he sings, “meet me at the hotel, motel. Though we got a room at home. Go to a place that we don’t know so well, it be nice, add a lil’ spice.” Although the context pertains to that of a stale relationship, it runs parallel to the idea that sometimes you just need to reinvigorate that spark, which can solve some of your issues. I needed my spark back, and it took me going to a place I didn’t know to do so.
In Cypress Hill’s “Rise Up,” they reinforce how human the feelings of needing to get away are. They rap, “born with the will to hustle, see we hittin’ the floor. You’ll never stop it, you ain’t got the muscle. We’re on the world tour, homeboy, this is for sure. We got a tour, blow the stage up, we out the door. Sometimes we all need an escape, so when we fall off track, you get your mind while we make a stack.” I wasn’t the best about multi-tasking and getting much work done, but I definitely felt like I was in the process of getting myself on track. As I was gaining clarity, I slowly pieced things together for my next show and even got a bit excited about it! I was regaining my passion for what I do, and it was beautiful to be reminded of why I’m taking the risks that I am. I set things in motion so that when I got back to the city, I was pushed head-on into meetings to get everything right and have no time to anguish.
I’m back in Philly with just one week until my next show (please purchase tickets here! Even if you can’t make it, you can still support Cadence in the Clouds by buying one 🙂 ). The pressure is piling on, and any bit of relaxation that I felt is out the window, but let me tell you. Escaping was the best thing I could have done for myself. I needed to silence the criticism, both internally and externally, to remind myself of what I’m capable of and what is paramount. Be like Mac Miller in “Aquarium,” and follow where your heart tells you to go. He needed an escape when he rapped, “I’ma follow you wherever your mind go, take me away, somewhere they won’t be, hold me closely, look at me, don’t speak.” Allow yourself that peace of mind. Follow Jaden’s advice in “Bye” and “take a drive, feel alive/just be together/out on the beach havin’ fun, the weekend just ain’t enough.” Give yourself time to heal and restore so that you can attack things full force with 10x more confidence, passion, and determination. I’m hoping to continue traveling and allow myself to create more experiences without worrying about logistics like work and money while also focusing on a small bridge from Nujabes’ “Feather.” In the track, Cise Starr recites, “drifting away like a feather in air, letting my words take me away from the hurt and despair. So I’m keeping it vertical forever elevator, riding the escalator to reach something that is greater.” My love is writing on this blog, and neglecting it has only made me feel that much worse. Rather than thinking of it as more work, it will be my escape from reality when I need to transport myself to a different place.
Want to read about other artists that hit the Cadence stage? Sign up for e-mails here and get them straight to your inbox! I promise I won’t spam ya♥
As mentioned, tickets for my next show are on sale now.
Even just purchasing a ticket helps support Cadence in the Clouds. But especially if you are a creative or professional in the music industry, this is the event for you. For just $25, your ticket gets you
-incredible vibes from DJ Bear-One
-2 incredible live performances from Noely and Prlm Chld
-2 drinks from our wine and spirits bar (shoutout to our friends at Redbull!)
-unlimited beer and seltzers from the incredible Stones Beer and Beverage Market
-small bites from a fabulous local caterer
-amazing cupcakes from Bri’s cupcakes
-30 minute consultation with NGAGE, where you can ask this successful PR firm with clients like 300 and Death Row any questions you have about the industry
And of course, a HUGE thank you to our financers, Fine Homes and Spaces, for seeing the vision and helping bring it to life to support local Philadelphia artists!