What is it about music that has the power to change your entire mood? If you were to look to the cold, hard facts, music can assist in the reduction of your heart rate. It lowers your blood pressure. Music can also cause a drop in the amount of cortisol, aka the body's main stress hormone, allowing your body a break from the anxiety. Looking beyond science, music is also a tool that brings people together. It bridges gaps from language, to difference of opinion. It breaks down barriers that can normally feel impenetrable. It creates community.
For so many reasons, music is a key to healing.
There were so many albums and artists in my rotation this year, but there were a certain few that made such a powerful impact that it's only right to make sure to give those albums their roses. While they can still smell them.
It's been a beautiful opportunity to watch certain artists evolve and whether we realized it or not, 2020 was a year that forced many of us into a state of intense and sudden adaptation. A survival-of-the-fittest style battle within ourselves to overcome global pandemics, local lockdowns, and heavy loss. With that kind of intense change comes introspection, reflection, and growth.
All of that and more seemed to be the theme with TERRANCE, the newest album from Bay Area rapper, CEO, podcaster, and designer T Carrier. The 11 song LP, which was released on June 8th of this year was in such heavy rotation on my Spotify that many of the songs ended up in my Top 100 of the year, despite only being out for half the time.
Formerly known as Smoovie Baby, Carrier has been a mainstay in the Bay area; both through his music and as the founder of Black Money Music Group, a label which claimed Sage the Gemini as one of its original artists. He's one of the few artists who is probably known more for what he's done for the culture than his solo music. In the last few years, however, Carrier has decided to step out of his CEO role and make his passions part of the main focus.
TERRANCE was the culmination of that focus. Combining forces with producer Corbin Harris, the two created what I believe should be considered Carrier's magnum opus. The presentation, the production, the lyrical content, the absolutely epic album cover, and the almost addicting croon of Carrier's voice came together to create some musical magic.
If I'm being honest though, none of that had to do with why the album was so important in my salvation this year. I've followed Carrier for a few years, and seeing him grow into the artist and man that he has, is something that has inspired me in ways he probably doesn't realize. This album was a risk for him. One where he put himself on the chopping block and dissected his flaws, honoring moments where he felt less than, admitting to moments where he could have done better.
Carrier took all those moments and transmuted them into healing. Into powerful music that carried the listener through 11 songs worth of inevitable triumph. Music that reminded anyone tuning in to honor all parts of themselves. To see all moments as teachable. To take the weapons formed against you and turn them on themselves. Through that process, Carrier came into his own power. You could feel the faith in himself permeating every lyric. You could feel the belief that things would work out the way he wanted them to in each verse.
Songs such as Claiming It and Black Owned (feat. Kevin Allen) infuse the album with a powerful message; that whatever you want is yours, but it is up to you to get it. And once you get it, it's up to you to do something with it. Conversely, songs such as Flowers, 365, and the album's endcap Peace of Mind delve into the other end of the spectrum, with Carrier taking a look at himself and discussing things that he wouldn't under normal circumstances. On Flowers, he takes an honest look at the emotional toll it can take to be doing so much work but not finding the recognition for it. The fear that the only time the flowers will ever come is when it's far too late. The songs 365 and Peace of Mind take an analytical look at love and how there may have been some less than stellar moments in his relationships that Carrier had to learn from.
By addressing the polarity in himself, Carrier addresses similar feelings in all of us, creating a highly relatable album. All of us were forced, in some way, to analyze ourselves in the years since COVID first took its toll. There was too much time to sit alone with our thoughts to not discover something about ourselves. There was too much time to not take that discovery and learn something from it.
TERRANCE is a perfect audible illustration of what that process looked like. It was everything laid bare for us to consume, and in the moments where I felt high or where I felt low, it was an album that I constantly fell back to. To either affirm my feelings or process them. To remind me of my confidence, or to help me find my confidence when it felt lost.
You can listen to TERRANCE, and Carrier's entire catalog online now. You can also tune into his brand new podcast Stirring the Pot, available on his IG every Sunday, as well as on his Soundcloud every Monday. Stirring the Pot is definitely worth the listen -- it dives deep into the history of Bay Area music by talking one on one with artists who have been there throughout the movement. It will be featured in an upcoming article for Newsbreak, so stay tuned for that coming shortly.