Arts, Music, Column

Nicki Minaj and Old-School Kanye: The Soundtrack to My Stride

When traveling on foot, the Chocolate Bar in Stokes is situated approximately four minutes away from Fulton 511—three, if the caffeine from my medium cappuccino kicks in and I’m feeling adventurous. A relatively short route, it makes for either a leisurely stroll on sunny days or a brief one in the blistering cold. It’s pretty scenic, too. Just like Ferris Bueller once said when he was talking about BC’s unparalleled aesthetic beauty, “If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

But amid the awe-inspiring architecture—the regal splendor of a stone-covered Stokes Hall, for example—one major construction-related oversight is evident. At one point in the painstaking process of designing BC’s blueprint, the guys and gals in charge of mapping my walking route from one English elective to another neglected something important—nay, something necessary—and it really is quite the travesty.


The problem is, this walk from Stokes South to floor five in Fulton doesn’t allow nearly enough time for Kanye’s six-minute-and-18-second “Monster” to play from start to finish out of my trusty Apple headphones.

Let me take a moment to briefly address those music ignoramuses who dare say this track is anything less than solid gold in song form. To quote the incomparable Miss Nicki Minaj with an excerpt from this exact song, if I may, this 2010 track is “hotter than a Middle Eastern climate,” and you know it.

If you’re an over-the-top music fan like me, you are that kid who walks around wearing headphones all day, tucking them not-so-sneakily under your baseball hat while walking from dorm room to dining hall, Conte Forum to class. You’re not anti-social, you’re simply music-savvy. It’s not being rude, it’s reliving the Dark Fantasy days when Kanye peaked and wasn’t pulling some crazy Amanda-Bynes crap with his weird Twitter tirades of today.

But back to my “Monster” dilemma. Try as I might, despite shortening my stride or slowing my walking speed, I barely get to hear the sinister string of Cannibal Nicki’s demonically decisive lines (“Ok, first thing’s first I’ll eat your brains . . . ”) before I find myself sitting down for my next class. I pause the song, and my teacher says some stuff about Shakespeare for 50 minutes. It isn’t until after class that I am able to find out the rest of Nicki’s dastardly plans (“then I’mma start rocking gold teeth and fangs”). Not even a discussion about Shakespeare’s revered works should interrupt the unrivaled poetic stylings of this star-studded rap collaboration. We’re talking about a cameo by Minaj and raps from Rick Ross. Hova graces listeners with his godly presence, and for some reason, Bon Iver is there too.

In my humble opinion, “Monster” is one of the best songs to walk to. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose purposeful stride sometimes coincides with the song I’m playing at any given time. What I really like is that music has this unique ability to connect listeners to the confidence that emanates from their favorite artists. In 2005, Carrie Underwood fans walked around exuding an I-just-destroyed-my-cheating-boyfriend’s-car-and-I-don’t-even-care kind of confidence. Katy Perry’s self-love has had people feeling like fireworks for over five years now. Somewhere on some Spotify playlist, a 2007 version of Kanye sings about being “better, faster, stronger.”

The cool thing is, on some subconscious level, his listeners fall into the music.

Without realizing it, your walking pace might suddenly match the speed of the song you’re hearing, your normal stride transformed into a stunning runway strut once you hear the first few claps of Kanye’s “Power.” Maybe Rihanna’s punchy “Consideration” prepares your badass brain for that scary public-speaking presentation. Whatever song you choose to hear through your headphones while walking from point A to point B, you hand-pick it specifically to match your mood. It’s the NARP’s version of baseball’s walk-up music, and it’s empowering.

Most importantly though, “Monster” (among many others) is a loud, unapologetic song that makes me forget all of my assignments, if only for a moment. It seems there have been a whole lot of those pesky assignments thrown on my plate recently, and it hasn’t been too easy. The short walk to class is just a teeny-tiny slice of time where I can walk to the rhythm of Kanye’s raps without worrying about yet another work-filled weekend looming in my not-so-distant future.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes, songs boast mood-boosting capabilities you can’t find anywhere else. Everyone deserves an empowering playlist as a backdrop to their otherwise boring existences. When your work is piled miles high or your pathetic proclivity to procrastinate gets you down, you just have to find your walk-up song—even if you’re Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers, and it’s the screeching sound of a siren that gets you motivated.

These beats were made for walking, and for now, that’s just what I’ll do.

Featured Image By Republic Records

February 17, 2016