Hell Isn’t So Bad When You Have Music [Part 1 – Isaiah Rashad]

The sweet symphony of uncontrollable sobs can be so soothing when all you’ve known is the sound of silent suffering. When the effort of existing becomes unbearable, and the white noise surrounds you (and no, i’m not talking about Disclosure), you come to realise hell isn’t so bad when you have music. Damn I miss my headphones. I actually have to listen to my own thoughts now. 

It’s dark down here. “Well of course it is dark, the lights are off in your room, duh.” That’s what the voice in my head is telling me. The other, more quiet voice rebuts. “No. That’s not what I meant. My mind is dark. Or maybe blank? I don’t know.” Silence. 

It’s excruciating. 

“Now everybody tellin’ me a lie. Lordy give me something for my soul. See I don’t wanna think of suicide. So please don’t take the lock key off my door.” 

It begins. The lyrics living in my head have awaken. They bounce across my skull, jumping from ear to ear as though my mind is a playground. The devil’s playground. And it was theirs. Theirs to control. Theirs to destroy. 

They had become so comfortable here. They knew things about me I didn’t. They knew my deepest thoughts, my deepest fears, my insecurities.  

“See you can’t handle pressure on your own, so why you carry boulders by yourself?” Who told you I shouldered all my burdens? How did you know I was crumbling under the pressure? Like crabs in a barrel, my own thoughts pull me down – deeper into hell I go. 

The lyrics speak to me. They tell me things I would never tell myself. I know “I just need some guidance in my steps”. I know “i’m not the only one alone”. I know “i’m not the only one who felt”. But can I heal? Black boys aren’t supposed to cry…or so I was told. Black boys weren’t taught to cry…a myth I was sold.

Is it wrong “I’m praying that I make it to twenty-five”? I’ve lost friends. Friends who didn’t see another year, another week. Friends who should have seen tomorrow but tomorrow never came. 

Call the doctors. Call whoever you want. I know I’ve been having problems with myself. I know love doesn’t live here anymore. Before you take me away, just tell me this: where does this “love” everyone talks about reside? 

You claim to love me but you don’t know my issues as a child. So what if I’ve been losing more than just my mind? So what if I don’t want to be like any of you no more? I am coping my own way. And if I’m doomed to die young, my only wish is to receive an answer from our Heavenly Father. I want to ask Him, why are you so far away?

I am grateful Isaiah Rashad spoke to me in my moments of darkness. Days when I chose not to listen to myself, you were there.  Music was there. There to support me when I let myself down. 

It’s true, I guess. Hell isn’t so bad when you have music. 

— To better understand this, listen to Isaiah Rashad – Heavenly Father. —



Fly to the heavens

heavenly grace, 

grant her great peace, 

please I pray 

her wings continue flapping 

to the sound of my heartbeat

so she can reach your gates.

O Lord accept my angel

in your open arms.

Arm her with love stronger

than mine.

Symmetry and Confusion

What is life but a cigarette butt 

and a withering rose…

like ashes blowing away in the wind,

dust to dust, 

we return to what we once were. 

The circle ends where it begins, 

and so the beginning of the end 

is a never ending cycle 

of existing and being. 

Death is life 

and life is death, 

the laws of equivalent exchange 

can never be changed nor manipulated. 

Stop searching for answers to questions you haven’t yet understood. You ask what is life but do you know what to live means? Do you know who you are? 

Cyanide & Happiness

Broken wings

with the ruffled feathers,

freedom seems so far away.

But don’t you cry,

don’t you cry,

eternity is

but a second away.

Your wings will soon spread,

and flap in the wind

when life is nothing more.

So wait my child,

Please be patient,

eternity is

but a long way away.

And After Death pt.2 [An open letter to Alexander ‘King’ Paul]

I hate hospitals. I mean, I’m grateful to all the doctors and nurses for all their hard work; still, I hate hospitals. I spent the better part of my childhood making hospital visits. I think I’ve seen nearly all of my family members on a hospital bed, not to mention the amount of times I’ve had to go to the hospital regarding my own health problems. So, when I had to visit you in hospital, I would always try to put on a smile. If not for you, at least for me. To comfort myself. To remind myself better days would come. How selfish of me.

I still recall the moment I was told you had collapsed, were hospitalized and in a coma. Two days after my birthday, it was 10pm. My thoughts were racing. I felt sick. Nauseous. I couldn’t bring myself to sit down, yet my legs wouldn’t let me remain standing. In shock, I made my way home. I wanted to visit you that same evening…I don’t know what stopped me. Maybe because I knew I wouldn’t be allowed in at such a late time. Maybe because I knew I would be of no help then. Maybe I was just making excuses…nothing should have stopped me from visiting you that evening.

We had seen enough deaths in 2016. Purple rain had left a taste of nostalgia on our tongues as we mourned the passing of the legend Prince. But you were a King, and that’s what made your death even harder to bear. You survived the troubling times in South London, yet this challenge was far greater than any of us could have imagined. But you were right. Only you could have handled such a pain. You were always right. “Mortality salience” become our motto once you woke from your coma. To live a full life despite the “woes of the wavey”. You carried your cross and us on your shoulders. Always uplifting us, always reminding us who we are, always showing us who we could be. Continue reading

Series I: The Man, The Black, & The Mental

Left, right. Front, side. I look around to make sure the coast is clear. A ritual many young black men are accustomed to. Clear. It’s ok for me to make my way to my destination. Call it paranoia, call it fear, but survival is our number one priority. The dread of being attacked, robbed, or even worse, the panic that your mother will hear about your death from a 10 second clip on the BBC news is not amiss amongst young black men.

Coming from a working-class background where my environment was painted in blood-red somber situations, each day felt like a constant battle for your life. A disproportionate number of young black working-class men have internalised this constant fear. They no longer acknowledge that there is something wrong with instinctively looking over their shoulder at each corner they turn, or averting locking eyes with black boys in an area you are not familiar with.

Briefly touching on the topic in a previous piece, I begin my mental health series looking at the black man. What does it mean to be a black man… More specifically, what does it mean to be a working-class black man growing up in a troubled environment? This is a loaded topic and cannot be covered in a simple blog post. Still, I hope to depict and shed light on some of the causes of poor mental health amongst black men.  Continue reading

Six Degrees of Why

25 years of age, young, self-made, attractive, and persuasively confident. A naturally-gifted public speaker, with the thoughts of a highly-educated philosopher and the tongue of an orator who has perfected his craft; he was success personified. He had everything going for him. An abundance of wealth, beautiful women, all that good stuff and more all by his side, and yet he was alone. Whilst others saw perfection, he saw an incomplete being. They failed to hear his eyes screaming for love. They failed to see the child within him crying out for help. They failed to see the man within crumbling under the pressure of upholding the image they had created of him.

“I’m scared about opening up and letting the world know my weakness … I can’t have people think I’m weak. I can’t have people see me differently…” he told me as we spoke in a small classroom, sat on desks with our backs against the wall. Silent but solemn, the atmosphere in the air was one of uncomfortable reverence and confusing awe. My perception of him was slowly changing in the minutes that passed by. Vulnerable, but still yet strong, I wondered why he was afraid to expose himself like this to others. But I guess that is the issue. “Expose”. It seems as though we live our lives constantly in fear, constantly in hiding, and once our inner-self emerges in front of those unfamiliar with that side of us, we feel exposed. Continue reading

And After Death…

I had a glimpse of heaven today. Or at least I thought it was heaven. The bright, blinding lights left me perplexed. The warmth I felt enticed me. It was a wondrous feeling… Until I woke up. And then all the memories came flooding back. 

I don’t know what to think of death. I mean, I’ve had interactions with death, but we’ve never spoken, we’ve never had a conversation, only fleeting moments. It seems as though death has favoured others over me and sometimes I wish she wouldn’t. 

My grandma died. Sometime in May. Life had never felt so surreal. I recall arriving home and seeing my mother sat on her bed, with the white and black duvet and pillow laid out in an odd way, as if someone had spent hours trying to make the bed but unsure as to how to do so. As my mother gave me a strained smile, her light-brown eyes telling a different story, I sat next to her and waited for her to open up to me. I had messaged my brother asking him how things at home were the day before. That was when I heard. Instead of asking her how she felt and all the following patronising questions people often ask, I waited for her to feel comfortable enough to talk to me. It was heartbreaking to see her struggle between trying keep an air of happiness in front of her children but also accept the fact that her mother, my grandmother, had passed.   Continue reading

The Blacker the Berry…

Blinded by the flashing lights,

another blood-soaked salient night.

The darkest skin suffers severely,

still the blacker the berry

the sweeter the juice

drips crimson red, regularly 

leaving trails on the floor, Continue reading

A Letter [7DTH]

As I sit writing in this dimly lit room, it is only fitting I call this blog post A Letter. This is a letter to my past and present, a letter to all those I have loved and hurt. This is a letter to myself.

Close to three weeks ago, nauseous, light-headed, weak and trembling, I stumbled off of my train from London to Coventry. Millions of thoughts crossed my mind; still my focus was on getting home as quickly as possible, ensuring no one would see me in such a state. As I mumbled to the cab driver my address, I looked at my reflection from my phone screen, unsure of who to call. No. I had no one to call. My first anxiety attack … and I had no one to call. Well, it’s not that I had no one to call; my pride just stopped me from admitting how weak I could be. I fell victim to my own inadequacy.
Continue reading