May 3, 2016

SUSSER | Ithaca State of Mind ft. Drake

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Last Thursday could have been an international holiday. I’d have called it Toronto appreciation day, but that wouldn’t give justice to the man who helped craft a sound that revolutionized hip-hop. All day, millions of listeners eagerly waited for what would surely be an album with no shortage of Canadian influenced summer bangers. Drake had been working on and promoting his fourth studio album Views for years; the public anticipation matched the hype. But when 11 o’clock rolled around and I sat down for my first ever “listening party,” I couldn’t help but feel shorted. Believe me, I tried to like it; by the time “Hype” rolled around, I thought Aubrey was resuscitating the album, injecting life into the succeeding tracks. There was no success. The songs were soft and introspective. More Take Care than Nothing Was The Same. I went into the night expecting a pregame album but all I got were lazy lullabies for after-hours.

If there’s any silver lining, the album incited a reflection upon the origins of my Drake fanhood. Much of Drake’s ascendency aligned with my college years. While he was undeniably a known entity as I moved into Donlon and began my Cornell experience, he would rise to superstardom during my years in Ithaca, all the while gracing my classmates and me with a soundtrack to college. It’s crazy how music can be a time machine, transporting you to places long forgotten. Each of his songs jarred my memory, the non-diegetic sound to an internal montage of experiences. Nervously walking to Collegetown during orientation week for the many non-sanctioned parties — “The Motto.” Sauntering past the row of sorority girls on ellipticals at Newman — “Started from the Bottom.” Studying for prelims in the stacks — “0 to 100.” Driving to Chipotle for dinner, but settling for Moe’s — “Back to Back.”

Drake’s bravado matches the intensity of life at Cornell. Things move quickly here. In the blink of an eye, you find yourself a senior, thinking about where the time went. You take stock of what you’ve gained here, and how you’ve matured — hopefully — over the past four years. You know you’re not the same 18 year old that settled into North Campus four years ago. But it’s hard to pinpoint precise transformative moments as being definitively influential. Sure, a decision to join a club or team could have been pivotal, but was that really it?

I tend to think that micro-moments, where you are put out of your comfort zone and forced to adapt, change you for the better. Most often, you don’t consciously think about their influence. And they vary in scale, from preparing to present research in front of an auditorium of listeners, to questioning the choice of someone in a position of authority. Music has the special capability to rekindle those distinct visceral feelings during past moments, the kinds you can’t quite put into words. It gives a new vantage point as you recall the past in the comfort of the present.

Seeing as this is my last column, I feel compelled to ruminate on my past four years here and my experience writing for The Sun. Final columns remind me of one-hundred-episode-specials for sitcoms — a pause of normal programming for a celebration and reflection of the past. I was in a van in Arizona, heading towards an airport for a flight back to New York, when I received an email that I had been selected to write for The Sun. My sample columns were written about my hesitance towards going abroad and a generic tirade against the Greek system (the latter would never be published). As I gazed out towards the desert orange canyons, I thought about potential material. I was relatively apolitical. I wasn’t the guy with an air horn outside Day Hall demanding for divestment. What was I doing with a column?

But I enjoyed writing. And I realized that, just by virtue of being a student here, I had enough to work with. And so, two years later, I realize how special it’s been. Even if it was only a proud text Wednesday morning from my parents and grandparents, or an occasional email from an entertained reader, it has been worthwhile. I’ll be the first to admit that my stuff was not hard- hitting material. My intentions were to create a lighthearted space — something to scroll through while you’re in the bathroom at Noyes, as a friend recently put it. It was something I was always proud of and could call my own — all those wistful unsolicited pieces of senior advice are true. Getting involved in something on campus is rewarding (even if you don’t know when or how they are helping you grow as a person). You don’t have to be on e-board and you don’t have to change the campus conversation. Engaging outside of the classroom and sharing something with others on campus certainly helps you understand what it means to be in college. A big thank-you to my four editors, Caroline, Sloane, Paulina and David (unofficial) for all your help over the past four semesters, and congratulations to the Class of 2016!

Philip Susser is a senior in the College of Human Ecology. He can be reached at pss226@cornell.edu. An Ithaca State of Mind appeared on alternate Wednesdays this semester. This is its final installment.

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