Editor’s note: As part of CMN’s ongoing music journalism program, we asked our team of music writers to take on the age-old challenge of choosing one piece of music they would like to have with them if they were stranded on a deserted island. It’s an absurd notion, but also irresistible. See all the different approaches they took to the challenge right over here.
The wind sounds different today. I hear it glide past the pineapple tree leaves, as they gently brush against one another. I’m relaxing along the jungle floor, under a leaf boat I built out of wood, four large leaves from a banana tree, all wrapped in an octopuses’ tentacle.
It has been 9,131 days since I last breathed society’s air. All I have left of my previous life are faith and memories. When I think about different experiences in my early 20s, I laugh. At night, vivid images of cherished faces fly through my mind at, and when I’m awake, I’m in survival mode.
In addition to my memory bank, my soul stays fulfilled with timeless music and one of my most beloved novels.
Before I was left on this forlorn island, I wasn’t told why or for how long. I was only told, by a disguised voice:
You’re only allowed to take one album and one book with you, forever. What shall it be?
I took a second to ponder. In this critical moment, I thought about every full length project I had listened to from beginning to end. I thought back to classics like A Seat at the Table, Victory Lap, CTRL, Share My World, After the Storm, H.E.R., My Krazy Life, and Future Hndrxx Presents: The WIZRD.
Before this life altering moment, I had written about some of the greatest in music. I would have imagined I’ve heard about a million or two songs. Then, it clicked. I thought of two things which brought me fulfillment, empowerment, authenticity, and timelessness in their own way.
I answered the voice:
Everything is Love by The Carters and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
I was dropped along the sandy shore and given my forever selections along with a CD player.
I selected these two art pieces because they each gave me something when I needed it the most in my life. When I first heard The Carter’s project, I was invested in this black love story which offered wisdom on friendships, entrepreneurship, and life.
While immersed in Americanah, I observed how fate and divine connections can either lead to separation or the re-alliance between two lovers.
I haven’t taken anything for granted since I’ve been here. I’ve just enjoyed the music and this love story. Before I arrived, I lived through a moment of Hip-Hop history where Beyoncé and Jay-Z were at the top of the music industry; and the music on Everything Is Love reflected that moment.
I usually play the album every day or every time I feel a wave of sadness, joy, or burst of energy. Certain songs provide comfort when I need them the most.
When I’m lonely, I listen to Bey’s majestically sensual vocals on “Summer;” a song about two passionate lovers making it through the harsh elements of winter, to reap the benefits of warmth in the summer. Or when I need to feel empowered, I’ll start my listening session with “Boss” or “713 –” songs which exude confidence, inspiration, and cockiness.
Outside of Jay’s tricky lyricism and Bey’s raw vocals, Everything Is Love also provides a sonically mature R&B, Hip-Hop, and jazz mixture. Through nine tracks, you’re taken on an emotional journey, which will suit the rest of my life.
While my forever album brings me peace when I need it, my forever book allows my faith to be restored. Americanah tells a story of fate always finding its way. Two childhood lovers are separated by life’s circumstances, each leaving their nest to grow separately. Learning the different layers of love, success, and patience on their own terms. But in the end, somehow, the two lovers find their way back to another.
With faith and memories on my side, I know forever on this island won’t always last.
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.