Melodies that Motivate

I was in the second grade when I memorized my first song, “All About the Benjamins.” It was the most popular song at that time and it featured some of the best artists in Hip Hop, like Puff Daddy, Notorious B.I.G. and other influential artists. I remember waking up for school as a third grader to “All About the Benjamins” on the radio as my alarm. At lunch, a group of us would meet up during recess and stand in a circle and recite the lyrics word for word. This is when I truly fell in love with Hip-Hop. Until this day, I still know every word from that song. Hip-Hop always reminds me to never give up, and tells me to ignore people who try to bring me down, and serves as my escape from reality.

“All I got is dreams, nobody else can see, nobody else believes, nobody else but me,” these are lyrics from my favorite song, “History” by Jay-Z. Hip-Hop music always played in my house. I would nod my head to the pleasant melody of the beat while trying to memorize the lyrics. Hip-Hop remained in my life because it benefits me positively and motivates me to succeed.
I love music so much, that when I was young, I would secretly save money to buy CD’s. “The Life and Times of S. Carter” by Jay- Z was the first CD I purchased on my own. I remember going to the music store. I walked for one block, but was so excited I ran the rest of the way. When I got to the music store I was only allowed to buy the edited version, but I was still excited. All of my friends thought I could not save the money to buy the CD, but I proved them wrong. I cherished that CD more than any other, it traveled everywhere with me, I took it to school and slept with it under my pillow. I studied everything about it. I stayed in my room lying on my bed with the CD on repeat in my boom box, memorizing the lyrics and learning the melodies, I even memorized the credits. I knew everything from who produced the songs to who was featured on every single song.

After I fell in love with “The Life and Times of S. Carter,” I began to learn everything I could about music. It’s no coincidence that Jay-Z is my favorite Hip Hop artist; it was his work that I spent my allowance money on, and it was his album that I knew word for word and cover to cover. In my mind, Jay-Z is so lyrical that he practically defines Hip-Hop. His lyrics are descriptive enough to make me visualize stories when I close my eyes. I am a huge Jay-Z fan because I can relate to his music. We both grew up struggling and wanting to make the best of our situations. Jay-Z has already become successful, so it is my turn.

My favorite album is “The Blueprint,” by Jay-Z. That whole album is the soundtrack to my life. I can relate to all the songs on the album. “The Blueprint” was a personal album for Jay-Z, and it became a personal album for me as well. I can feel the emotion and see the stories he tells through those lyrics every time I listen to that CD. The song that I have the most connection to is called “Never Change,” in which Jay-Z rhymes about doing whatever it is he has to do to make it to the top, while remaining true to him. I believe that staying the same person with the same values is important after becoming successful, along with never forgetting your roots and the people who helped you become successful.
My favorite song is “History” by Jay-Z, released a day after Barack Obama was elected President of The United States. The song is so meaningful to me and the lyrics are charming and alluring. In the song “History” Jay-Z talks about being in the search for history by rapping, “In search of victory, she keeps eluding me, only if we could be together momentarily, we can make love and make history.” He is ready to defy all odds and make history. This is my favorite song because I feel the same way. I know I have a long road ahead in school as a Biochemistry major and before I am comfortable with my level of success, but I am ready to embark on my journey and make history within my family by being the first pharmacist.

There have been many times when I felt like giving up in life, but music sent me the message to keep going. I was a junior in high school and I had a five page essay to write that was due the next morning. It was twelve o’clock in the morning and I had not started my paper. I was extremely tired and did not want to write the essay. All I wanted to do was lie on my bed and fall asleep, so I did. While lying on my bed the radio was playing and the song “Go Getta,” by Young Jeezy played. “Go Getta” is about being persistent in what matters to you most no matter what obstacles you face. What always mattered to me most is getting good grades and being successful in school. I was concerned about my grades and had a goal of getting an A in English, and I knew if I did not hand in that essay the next morning, my chances of getting an A in English would be slim. After the song played I got out of my bed and began to write my essay. I was fighting with myself to stay awake. Four hours passed and the essay was complete. I was proud of the results and myself. I handed my essay to my English teacher the next morning with bags under my eyes from exhaustion. The next week the teacher handed the essays back and I earned an A. I was extremely proud of myself and thanked music for motivating me.

Listening to music teaches me many lessons in life as in addition to motivating me. Rappers like Common, Lupe Fiasco, T.I., and Jay-Z rap and send positive messages about how important it is to give back to your community, and giving back is a main principal in my life. I think that giving back to your community is extremely important; there is always someone who can use a helping hand. I give back to my community anyway possible from volunteering at local hospitals to volunteering at day camps. Music has also taught me to be ambitious in life. The song “Sky’s the Limit” by The Notorious B.I.G is a very motivational song about pushing the limits in life and realizing that nothing is impossible. The sky is the limit, you can do anything as long as you put your mind to it. When I listen to “Sky’s the Limit” I feel like I can reach the goals I have set for myself in school and more, I will never limit myself or settle for less.

As I write this essay I am listening to music. The tunes allow me to escape from reality, distractions and concentrate on writing. Whenever I am in a bad mood I put on some music, relax and escape from reality. I’m always searching the internet to find new songs that catch my ear. I love to listen to old songs to see if I can grasp something new from the lyrics. The motivation I get from music is inspiring. It inspires me to succeed and be persistent in everything that I do. Whenever I feel down or discouraged I can listen to songs like “Go Getta” or “History,” to remind myself to push harder and go further.

About Edmund Adjapong

Edmund Adjapong, a native of the Bronx, NY, is a student at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Science Education and received a Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry with a minor in Africana Studies from The State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Edmund believes every student learns differently. He also believes that engaging young men with media–despite its unconventional method–is an effective way to educate. Edmund enjoys working with and mentoring youth, especially young men of color, as they are our future. He fell in love with Hip-Hop after memorizing Puff Daddy's song "All about the Benjamins," in the third grade. Following the completion of his masters degree, Edmund plans on teaching science in a New York City public school and pursuing his Doctorate of Philosophy in Science Education. His ultimate goal is to become a science educator and researcher. This blog is a reflection of Edmund’s thoughts during his journey toward a terminal degree. For more information about Edmund Adjapong please feel free to contact him at:
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One Response to Melodies that Motivate

  1. Lilly says:

    hey edmund,Im going to start a blog too!

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