There are so many layers to music. There are vast stories told; Many truths revealed, and emotions / feelings that are evoked. Music can heal us, enlighten us, make us laugh, cry, dance, smile - anything, you name it.
For my second year in a row, I engaged with Freelance Journalist and Music critic, Gary Suarez (also known as @noyokono on Twitter) and his infamous February Music Writer (MWE) Exercise. What is a music writer exercise? Simple. Mr. Suarez created the challenge back in 2015. As an engaging way to learn about both music of the past / present as well as from various genres, he challenges his followers, music enthusiasts, writers, critics, etc. each day of February to listen to a full album that they've never heard before, start-to-finish, and critic it with only one tweet. If necessary, you could go over but there was more fun and challenge in trying to analyze the body of work in just one meaningful tweet.
As I shared earlier, this is indeed my second year doing this challenge and much like last year, I learned more as a writer, consumer of music, and a person. This year was a bit different than last year though. While I started off immensely strong listening to both new and classic albums from artists I had either never really fully engaged with or heard of before, I ended up losing my focus due to family issues.
Last month was truly life changing. While there has been so many exciting things in the works within my life, my family and I also experienced one of the hardest most unexpected losses in our unit. Towards the end of February, one of my older cousins passed away at the age 33. 33... It even doesn't feel real typing this right now. It does not feel real to even be speaking on him in past tense. An amazing man, brother, father (of two), cousin, son, grandson, nephew, friend, you name it... he was everything for everybody. I still don't understand why he had to go or even the true cause of this... My mind is still trying to process this. This one hurts.
Photo taken by me
Because of this sudden loss, I ended up not being able to finish the challenge in its entirety. I just physically could not get myself to care about any music at the time. I was numb (and I am very much numb still now) And while this article's focus is not about the loss of my family member, it's very significant to the music challenge as well. Regardless of not completing the exercise, I wanted to highlight the 18 days that I did complete. Again, this year I really took the challenge even more seriously than last year and really pushed myself.
I was truly proud of myself and what I was able to cover. From doing the challenge again, I was able to discover new artists that I enjoy. I received attention from the legendary Missy Elliott on my tweet on my review of Aaliyah's "One In a Million" album, and I really felt the growth in my ability to effectively communicate and articulate my thoughts as a writer and a music listener.
This time around, while it was a little difficult finding time to sit and listen to music, it was more fun for me this second go-round. I really absorbed everything I was listening to and I truly enjoyed it. I added pretty much songs from every album I encountered and meshed them into my playlists so that I could continue to hear them even after this challenge ended.
Despite the way this month ended, the music writer exercise was refreshing, enlightening, and pleasurable. I went back-and-forth with myself on if I would type this up, but I knew I needed to stay consistent in my work ethic and still deliver. I know my cousin would be so upset with me for not staying focused on my tasks. He was a hustler... He worked hard and he taught me that at a very young age. I'm going to miss him so much.
Here are the projects that I decided to choose for February 2021's Music Writer Exercise:
Feb. 1: Mitch - Better For You
Feb. 2: Brandon Banks - STATIC (Brandon Banks viewed and liked my tweet)
Feb. 3: VanJess - Silk Canvas
Feb. 4: Destiny's Child - The Writing's On the Wall
Feb. 5: Rick Ross - Deeper Than Rap
Feb. 6: Pangeaux - 19th & Summerhill (Pangeaux saw, shared, liked, and commented on my review - we're friends now lol)
Feb. 7: Aaliyah - One In a Million (Missy Elliott saw and liked my tweet)
Feb. 8: Young Jeezy - TM 103
Feb. 9: Anita Baker - Giving You the Best That I Got (one of my absolute favorites to do)
Feb. 10: THEY. - The Amanda Tape (THEY. liked my tweet)
Feb. 11: VanJess - Homegrown
Feb. 12: Foogiano - Gutta Baby
Feb. 13: Maxwell - Now
Feb. 14: Pink Sweat$ - PINK PLANET
Feb. 15: JAY-Z - Reasonable Doubt
Feb. 16: Omah Lay - What Have We Done
Feb. 17: Durand Bernarr- Dur&
Feb. 18: Brandy - Never Say Never (One of the best albums I've ever listened to)
As I shared in a previous post, please take this time to continue to show love to your loved ones, family, and friends. Take nothing in this life for granted; Live in the present; Make memories and cherish your village. Something that is certain in this life is death... we simply just do not know when our time will be.
Continue to stay safe and encouraged.