Chris Koon

The rap artist Destin Route is also known as J.I.D, and his music and mindset as a person interested me from the first time I discovered him.  His approach to music intrigued me because of his unique background and creative storytelling. His music gives me hope and makes me appreciate how he put an effort to tell his true story through his music.  Also, listening to his music motivates me to continue studying even if the work seems insurmountable.

J.I.D’s journey peaked my interest immediately after I first heard his debut album, The Never Story. In this album, J.I.D talks about his life and how the struggles he experienced as a kid helped him become a successful artist and person. The featured single  “NEVER” perfectly explains the album’s theme of perseverance. He talks about how he never had anything as a kid, living in a rough neighborhood. Losing close friends because of gun violence and gangs was a trend in his life. His mindset in the past was different, which resulted in stupid behavior.  However, after getting kicked out of college, J.I.D was able to associate himself with people who showed him the better road to take towards success.

Opportunities I’ve had at Rolling Hills Prep have put me in the best position to express myself while also revealing what my true passions and goals are in life.   I want to be happy and I want to be feel good about the profession I get into as an adult. A profession, like school, would require me to manage my time, and most importantly, seek some sort of motivation to continue working towards my goal, no matter how rugged the days can get. Sometimes in the middle of studying, my brain goes blank and stops working because of how stressful the amount of work is.  Listening to the struggles of artists through their music and lyrics help me relate to them and gain motivation from their stories to stay disciplined and keep a steady mindset.

Most artists talk about their material success, but J.ID’s lyrics focus more on emotions and past transgressions.  A line that resonates with me from one of his songs “Letrow” is “It's only by God's grace that I made it this far. Thus far, I need his plus y'alls”.   As a Christian, I loved hearing that my favorite artist has similar beliefs. The lyrics also resonate with me because I believe God has a plan for me as well, but it is up to me to keep my choices and morals straight.

J.I.D’s sound is also what separates him from other artists.  Playing the piano for the past twelve years has helped me appreciate how tough it is to create vulnerable music that lets your emotions out. Most people, when they first hear J.I.D, are thrown off by his high-pitched voice. However, his pitch is endearing to me because the typical rap voice is supposed to be masculine and hard, but I appreciate listening to artists that utilize their true sound.  His unique sound makes me curious about where the song will go and what message he wants to portray.

J.I.D’s goal when writing is to be fully open and truthful about his past. His struggles molded him into becoming an emerging artist from an area where most don't even come close to success.  The vulnerability he created in his album allowed me to realize how blessed I am and that there are always people who have it worse than me. I shouldn’t be worried because homework is just homework and studying is just studying.  J.I.D's "Never Story" and his music helped me not only with the stress of studying, but most importantly, it helped me realize why I should always be grateful for what I have.

I am blessed by the grace of God as well as the people around me.  There is nothing I have to complain about. Life will never be perfect, but I need to be able to live with the results knowing that God has plan for me.  I hope everyone knows that they are here on this Earth for a reason.

I wanted to end my speech with a quote from the spoken-word poet, Rudy Francisco.  I’ve been obsessed with his videos these last couple months and they captivate me in ways I didn’t think poetry could.  This is an excerpt from one of his poems that has stuck with me and I wanted to share it with you:

“Remember that every year two million people die of dehydration so it doesn’t matter if the glass is half full or half empty, there’s water in the cup. Drink it, and stop complaining. The human heart beats approximately four thousand times per hour. Each pulse, each throb, each palpitation is a trophy engraved with the words 'You. are. still. alive.' You are still alive. Act like it.”