Every night when he comes home from work, I can hear Elijah’s music playing loudly on his portable speaker. He attaches it to the handlebars of his bike so he can listen to his music while he rides to and from work. This is also how I know he’s made it home safely because I hear his music blaring from outside of my window. But the loud music doesn’t bother me.
Music keeps him going. Whenever Elijah is feeling down or he needs some encouragement, he always turns to music. He had a tough summer and struggled with depression. Elijah was out of work for six months because of COVID-19. His job was one of the industries that had to shut down. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that he was able to find work part-time.
Now his main job is back open and he works two jobs 6 to 7 days a week. Not because he wants to, though. Unfortunately, both jobs are only offering part-time work so for now, he’s holding onto the two jobs so he can make close to full-time pay. One job pays less than $11/hour while the other pays $14/hour. With hourly pay like that, it’s damn near impossible to expect anyone to make a liveable wage. But that’s a different story for another time.
Since we only have one vehicle, Elijah takes his bike to work. Every time I hear his music playing, I know he’s mentally preparing himself to stay focused and motivated on his future goals.
“I have hope that I’m going to make it,” he told me one day. We had been talking about the hard times and how he’s been feeling stronger than he did over the summer. Elijah has set goals for himself to work these two jobs, save up for a car, and start college soon.
Lately, I’ve noticed when Elijah comes home from work, he’s been listening to Big Sean’s new album Detroit 2. The Detroit native released his fifth studio album on September 4th.
One night, Elijah came in through the front door guiding his bike into our front hallway with the music still playing on the small speaker. He noticed I was sitting on the couch holding Zaya and walked over to the living room.
As he stood in the hallway holding onto his bike, Elijah pressed pause on his Pandora app and said, “Hey, Mom, I want you to listen to this. I think you’ll like it.”
“Okay,” I replied.
This is something I’m very familiar with– the older kids wanting me to listen to one of their favorite songs. For Michala, it’s usually a new KPOP video she wants me to watch with her. Whereas, Elijah likes to tell me the lyrics of one of his favorite songs and break down the meaning of the song before he plays the track for me. And each time he asks me to listen to a song, he always says to me, “I think you’ll like it.”
It always warms my heart that they want to share their favorite music with me. I know how important music can be to young people, especially my kids. I’m not really sure how this got started, but it’s just become our thing. I even stay up late with Michala sometimes and watch KPOP music videos with her.
It doesn’t matter what I’m doing. I could be washing dishes, taking care of the younger kids, or cooking dinner. Elijah or Michala will find me and excitedly ask me if I can take a moment to listen to a new song they discovered or watch a new music video that was just released.
Eminem and Big Sean are two Detroit artists in particular who Elijah enjoys listening to. Through their music, Elijah has felt encouraged to work through his depression, something he has struggled with off and on the past couple of years. And of course, with the pandemic, it was a heavy stressor for him. Thankfully, the music gave him some hope.
It’s interesting to me that Elijah likes Eminem and Big Sean because he’s actually a HUGE heavy metal fan. But the past few months, I’ve noticed his music taste has changed and he’s been listening to more rap music.
Elijah was eager to share with me his favorite song from the Detroit 2 album. He pressed play on the music app and Big Sean’s “Friday Night Cypher” started to play. I didn’t tell Elijah I had already listened to it until after it finished playing. I knew he was excited about the song and he really wanted me to hear it.
He seemed a little surprised that I knew the song, though. Haha! I know my kids think I’m ancient in age, but I do love some of the current music, too! 🙂 And they probably don’t know this about me, maybe because I use earbuds when I listen to music, but I actually listen to a lot of hip hop music.
After the song ended, I explained to Elijah I had listened to Big Sean’s new album a few days after it came out. I think this made him happy because we were able to discuss the album and share our favorite tracks from it.
My favorite songs from Detroit 2 are:
- “Why Would I Stop?”
- “Lucky Me”
- “Full Circle”
- “Time In”
- “The Baddest”
Elijah’s favorite tracks are:
- “Friday Night Cypher”
As we were talking about which songs from the album we loved, Elijah shared with me “Friday Night Cypher” is currently his favorite song of all time. And this is coming from a young man who is a huge heavy metal fan!
“I like it because it’s inspiring to see all these rappers come together on one track and embrace their differences,” Elijah told me.
“Friday Night Cyper” is a little over nine minutes long and it features Detroit rap artists Tee Grizzly, Boldy James, Drego, Sada Baby, Kash Doll, Cash Kidd, Payroll, 42 Dugg, Royce Da 5’9″, and Eminem.
“A lot of times in the rap industry rappers butt heads and they’ll make diss tracks against each other,” Elijah continued. “There’s nothing wrong with making a diss track and sometimes a diss track is necessary to put someone in their place. However, ‘Friday Night Cyper’ is a breath of fresh air because it can get exhausting to have every single rapper say they are the greatest of all time– the GOAT.
“I feel like with this song, it’s like putting all of that to the side. It’s taking all these rappers of great skill, all these people who are extremely talented, and using their skill to collectively make a beautiful work of art instead of trying to top each other and one up each other.
“And ‘Friday Night Cypher’ in itself is inspirational because I think the way that the country is right now, that track can set an example of how we should be treating each other in the country. Using our differences, our individual personalities to work as a team, to make life in general better.”
Knowing how much he loves Big Sean’s new album, I told Elijah since he usually works on the weekends, I’d take a picture of the new Detroit 2 mural for him. I had spotted it a couple of weeks ago when Travis and I were going to Eastern Market. We always pass the mural on our way to the farmers market. It’s located on Gratiot Avenue near the corner of Mack Avenue if you’re in Detroit and you’d like to see it.
According to Big Sean’s official Instagram, each week there will be a new Detroit 2 mural featured in a different city. I’m assuming the cities will be where each guest artist is from because of the artists that I have seen listed on the three murals that were revealed these last two weeks. The mural reads: “Welcome to Detroit 2, Big Sean featuring [insert name(s) of the artist(s) who are featured on the Detroit 2 album].”
So far, Big Sean has shared photos of a Detroit 2 mural in Detroit and Los Angeles (to honor the late Nipsey Hussle). The Detroit 2 mural in Detroit lists rap artists Tee Grizzly, Boldy James, Drego, Sada Baby, Kash Doll, Cash Kidd, Payroll, 42 Dugg, Royce Da 5’9″, and Eminem on the mural. I also found a photo on Instagram of a Detroit 2 mural in Houston, Texas featuring Travis Scott’s name.
When I texted Elijah the picture of the mural, he was really excited. I also snapped a photo of the “Shades” Eminem/D12 mural located in Eastern Market behind Bert’s Warehouse. I told him I’d print the photos out for him at Walmart and he can put it in frames to hang up in his room. He really liked that idea. After the tough summer Elijah had, the mural photographs can serve as visual reminders for him to stay strong and keep pressing forward.
And that’s why Big Sean’s Detroit 2 album stays in heavy rotation at our house. It encourages a 20-year-old young man to keep working hard and not to give up on his dreams. Because as Big Sean says on the first track of Detroit 2: “Why would I stop?”
Don’t ever stop reaching higher, Elijah. Love you– Mom
Have you heard the new Big Sean Detroit 2 album yet?
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Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are courtesy of Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit.