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MoPOP Youth Voices: The Residency's Aréte Garner Shares 5 Songs That Keep Him Happy

image from MoPOP's 'Prince from Minneapolis' Exhibition
a 1981 Hondamatic replica bike from Prince's “Purple Rain” sits on display in 2019 at MoPOP's 'Prince from Minneapolis' exhibition

We all have a lot to deal with during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the challenges are heightened for young folks who, in addition to being kept inside like the rest of us, have had to compromise their social lives, creative outputs, school events like graduation and prom, and have been stuck watching their siblings, attending class via Zoom, and spending way too much time at home.

But young people are coping, and perhaps more than adults and little kids, they are turning to music for solace. Here are some recommendations from one of the past participants in The Residency, Aréte Garner, who’s selected some tracks both old and new to help you get by.

Arete Garner

For those of you who don't know, my name is Aréte (r-tay) Garner; it can be spelled as "Arete," but the correct spelling has the accent mark. I'm 19-years-old and a 2019 alumni of The Residency, MoPOP’s youth development program for aspiring hip-hop artists and producers, in partnership with Arts Corps and Macklemore.

2020 has been an eventful year, to say the very least. We all know the current climate, at least those of us who aren't delusional or disconnected from the world at large. You don't need me to tell you what's happening, because chances are, you already know, and like me, you've been affected by it in some regard. So, I'm not going to sit here and go over that. Instead, I just want to share a few songs that keep me happy in my quarantine paradise. And by a few, I mean a small five. For each one I listed, I’ve also given a short description of why I have it on repeat through these times, along with a link to it so that you can listen, too.

*One disclaimer before we get into the music: Some songs may contain words that could offend or trigger you.

"Word Iz Bond" - 702

If you haven't heard of this group, you're missing out. I love this song's sound, vibe, and the overall point it's trying to push. When I hear this song, I visualize people chilling on the weekend having a good time in my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. Within possibly the best decade of all time: the '90s! So, in a way, it's sort of an escape for me. Seeing as I can't really hang out with people outside the house in current times.   

"N___as Just Jock Me" - 415

Classic G-Funk. Grew up on it, and stay listening to it. Brings me back to being a kid and hearing my elders bump tracks like these out their stereos. It isn't the friendliest song and it isn't for everyone, but it's gold for those that can relate to it.

"Let's Get Closer" - Atlantic Starr

When getting closer is becoming a growing taboo, this song's message is only strengthened. Of course, the melody is fantastic, the voices are soothing, and they all connect with one another like pieces of a puzzle. Funny enough, though, they could all work together alone, in my opinion, which isn’t true for a lot of songs.

"It Ain't Easy" - Tupac Shakur

"And even though you're innocent you still a n___a So they figure, rather have you behind bars than triggers." The sad truth is this song still rings true to this day. Tupac always had some great bars, and his flow was and still is unmatched, indeed someone worthy of being the G.O.A.T in my mind. Even lyrics aside, the beat is mellow and puts you in a thinking mood, which I like. It's a mood not a lot of rap beats can usually bring out.

"The Beautiful Ones" - Prince

For this last song, I put a lot of thought into it. As I wanted this list to have some diversity, at least in the topics which were covered within the lyrics of the songs. The reason I picked this one, in particular, is because if there's one thing I've experienced while quarantined, that was amplified due to the nature of what it is: breaking up. While quarantined, I had a strung out break-up with my ex of three years. Since I was in the house, practically alone, I was left to deal with my thoughts and emotions every day. Usually, one could go out and just try to find someone else to distract them from what they're really feeling inside, but I couldn't do that. Instead, I was forced to sit in the echo chamber, better known as my own mind. Thankfully, I was eventually able to overcome this breakup with time, even with the challenging circumstances. Around the time I had overcome this, I listened to this song, which I had heard all my life, but at the same time, never really listened to. See, having this new experience allowed me to understand the lyrics, and truly listen to it. Now every time I hear it, I think about that small part of my life and see that three-year relationship play out like a music video in my head with this song to accompany it. And it's just, well, beautiful.

All in all, these five songs (and others that I didn't mention on this list) aren't new, but they have helped me keep sane in the climate we're living in. And though they aren't from 2020, a lot of their messages still ring true; doesn't matter if they were made five minutes ago or 50 years ago. On top of that fact, some songs within the list aren't political, aren't pushing a super deep message, but are still important in their own right. Because if you don't step back and chill sometimes, you'll go crazy, and won't be able to function. You need to have a balance. And that, my friend, is what I feel these five songs represent. Balance. There's a breakup song, a political song, a love song, a thug song, and a chill song. On that note, I'm out. Thanks for reading!

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Music, MoPOP Don't Stop

About the author

Aréte M. Garner (he/him), The Residency participant, 2019