Jay Rock - Vice City

Moving across the country isn’t listed in the Top 10 Most Stressful Life Events, but it should be. Picking up nearly everything you own to live in a city you know next to nothing about is a difficult task, one that comes with a lot of necessary planning and unnecessay anxiety. The logistics alone are a nightmare, but having to actually settle into a new area and call it “home” is an awkward and seemingly never-ending struggle.

On top of that, having to plan (and pay) for your own wedding is yet another intense hassle that zaps any and all remaining energy you do have. What with comparing catering costs, analyzing a guest list, and over-preparing for all those minor expenses and possible calamities that pop up, it’s hard to keep your head straight and your eyes focused on what’s ahead of you. Your life, my life, falling into place in front of me while I’m so busy meandering through the details.

Amidst most of the whirlwind, you can find me, headphones on, combing my way through new music or old favorites, a soundtrack to my life as thoughts swirl in my head. For any given season in my life, there’s a handful of artists or projects that I thoroughly listen to, thus bookending that period with the music that was so often bumping through my eardrums. When I go back and listen, I can always pinpoint that period, reflecting on what I was feeling at the time. This is the case with most people, but for me, I typically make a point of purposefully creating lasting memories in the music I hold dear.

Rolling through the typical songs I listen to the most right now, I saw a Suggested Track that I realized I hadn’t listened to in forever: Jay Rock‘s “Vice City“. I found it funny that it had been so long, considering how much I listened to it in the beginning of last year. Within just a few weeks of its release, I could rap the whole thing, never stuttering through either verse from the TDE crew. Did I forget to mention that, in my opinion, this is one of the best rap songs of the last decade? It’s got Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul, a perfect Black Hippy collaboration that has each emcee at their personal best, leaving nothing for want. Never appearing on any mainstream chart, it’s definitely an underrated hit that I feel deserves much more attention than it’s ever gotten.

The main theme of the song is people’s fixation with various vices, but in this particular sense, the vices of young individuals influenced by rap culture. “Big money, big booty bitches, man, that shit’ll be the death of me“, Kendrick mumbles in the hook, slurring his words to the point that “death of me” could be interpreted as “there for me”, symbolizing the dual nature of vices and the role they play in our daily lives. The whole of the song is filled with memorable lyrics and wordplay from each rapper, but there’s an interlude from Rock that, upon multiple listens this past week, has truly stuck with me.

I’m focused, feelin’ blessed/Cause my eyes be the truth.

He repeats the line twice in what is pretty much the only melody of the whole song, making it stand out even more than just it’s meaning. To me, it’s always been about focusing on your path in life and accepting the opportunities that come your way. Staying the course, taking in blessings, and realizing that whatever the vision you have for yourself will turn out to be your reality. If you’re blinded by the vices, the mistakes, the missed chances, you won’t be able to achieve what you’ve laid out for yourself. It takes focus and blessings, which reminds me of the quote “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet”. One without the other seems like a loss, but combine the two, and success is your only option.

This is an especially pertinent concept in my life right now. After making such a huge step forward in my life, both through moving across the country and preparing to marry the love of my life, I realize that I need to keep my eyes on what’s important and be thankful for the blessings that come my way. None of this would be possible without both, and I’m keeping my vision locked on my future and all that it holds for me and my family. “Vice City” is a song that I thought had fit into a past period of my life, but now I realize it’s ever-present themes such as this one that can carry new meaning in a whole new period. I’m focused on my soon-to-be wife, my two new jobs, my new environment, feeling blessed with the love of friends and family all those miles away and the new ones I’m making in my new town, feeling blessed through all the new opportunities I’m experiencing for personal growth, cause my eyes are laying out the truth of my future, and it’s looking pretty great.