Dear Delta,

Thank you to whomever curates your audio selection on the in-flight entertainment. When I clicked on your hip-hop section, I was so excited to see artists like J-Dilla and Saul Williams instead of Jay-Z and Flo Rida. As a matter of fact of the 3 1/2 hours it took to get from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, I listened to Danny Brown’s “Atrocity Exhibition” for 2+ hours of it. That’s THREE times all the way through. I could have listened to it a fourth time if I had known how long we would be on the ground waiting for a gate at LAX, but that’s another letter to another corp. Danny Brown’s album is the shit, i.e it was the perfect companion for a trip home after a funeral.

Adam (my friend who passed away) and I used to ride to school together. It didn’t matter whether we picked him up first or last. When he got in the car he hit the eject button on whatever was playing, and put in something he wanted us to listen to. I believe if we were 16 again, Adam would pull the plug on whatever I was playing via my iPhone (probably some Jay-Z or Flo Rida) and put “Atrocity Exhibit” on.

“Today” and “Give ‘Em Hell” speak on themes of mortality and kicking ass as an artist. My friend was an artist who literally died from pneumonia. He had been, healthwise and perhaps emotionally, in a bit of a “Downward Spiral”. Questions of success and authenticity run through “Atrocity Exhibition” and Adam’s life and death raise these same questions to anyone who knew him closely. Nobody would doubt his authenticity as an artist, but his success is open to debate. As is Danny’s. When it rained the entire day of his service, we carried our umbrellas until it was time to dance the Sad Running Man. And in order to deal with the Sad all day, we had so many jokes. Ain’t it funny? I get I may be hitting this a tad spot on, and it may seem a bit morbid, but the weekend was an exhausting one. And I’m finally back home and it’s late.

I look forward to walking my dog tomorrow. I know it won’t feel like a chore. I want to hear the world busy around me and feel the sun on my skin. This weekend didn’t just exhaust me. I feel refreshed. “How do we live like this throughout our lives,” Adam’s sister asked this weekend. She knew that Adam’s death had moved us into another state of existence. A way of seeing the world that felt more authentic. How do we live this everyday? Laughing, crying. Attentive to the people and places around us. Maybe we can’t. The pressure of being so present leaves little room for selfish indulgences like video games or Netflix. But neither can we stop trying. For a while, music can help. It’s not going to cure all, but it can clear a path to feel refreshed.

I believe Adam would love this fucking album, and tell me this blog was shite no matter what he thought. So I’m okay with you doing the same. I will play it for him when we meet again. I will also be purchasing the vinyl of this album post haste. Kudos to the curator.

Brandon

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