Falling out the Sky - Armand Hammer — Music is Medicine — E1

I forgive you if you don't know Armand Hammer. The eternal streaming algorithms only vaguely include them in aggregate playlists and radio stations, but their full albums are eccentric, intricate, and deeply humanistic.

Today on Music is Medicine — "Falling Out the Sky" by Armand Hammer & The Alchemist featuring Earl Sweatshirt.

The instrumental presents itself as a UFO. The high-pitched synth hums like an alien engine, spinning us forward in exploration. Drums click steadily with beautiful embellishments, fills, and varied cymbal patterns. Sub-bass props up the lead synth and adds another layer of warmth. Not suffocating heat, an inevitable, natural, and inescapable comfort.

The first verse goes to Earl Sweatshirt.

She dropped a load on me, before they close the door
I be with nobody, who know what’s goin on inside?
My father body swollen behind my eyes
I ain’t cried for him in time, the return solar
We on the ride forward, the reverse not workin’

Earl sees the image of his father. There's a universality to parents eventually dying; a pain most can loosely understand. Referring to life on earth as "the ride" evokes nostalgia for the amusement parks of my youth. We exist in a world that fights inevitable change and runs out of time.

Ending with reference to Kobe's fatal crash, Earl draws a figure-eight back to the loss of his father. Stars (as Sly would say).

The second verse comes from billy woods and is probably my favorite.

Woke up on the West Coast for the first time in my life
Drove cross country, but I remember those flights
Genuflected when I heard the weed price
White boys with the weed pipes
Sunny days, sunny nights, mighty clouds of Northern Lights
I was always bright, so no sooner than we touched down
I’m seeing how we could get home and be right
It’s hard to live in the moment but I guess I had a gift
Hawaiian so potent, zonin’ off bong rips
I painted houses all summer, they paid by the shift
My boss was an enterprisin’ white kid
Eagle-eyed everything you did — shit gig, but I didn’t quit

It felt sleepy at night, but I liked that, felt like you could relax
Like you could disappear like I wasn’t surrounded by the past.

billy raps about making it through mid-twenties employment. Cash payment for manual labor while far from home, plus prospects to parlay money on the side. I have a laundry list of car rides and flights from the past four years—the miles of abyss on the way to a different temporary home.

The desire to disappear and be separated from the past is something I've felt deeply throughout the pandemic.

Idle time wonderin’
Thumbin’ 70s Ebony mags, drippin’ red ICEE on the pages
Learned to swim in a pool where a boy drowned last year
Wax in my ear
I heard voices I couldn’t make out in the deep end
When I dipped my head under — come again?

Elucid's verse, an eerie yet playful account of summer camp in the Catskills, considers the death of a much younger person. The verse evokes the slight ennui of childhood and brings to mind the taste of gas station ice creams. Elucid raps of youth and innocence tinged by reality.

When taken together, the three verses show stages of life. Each verse contemplates death. Each verse tells about a star whose fall is unpredictable.

The listener rolls past as these stars steadily shout stories over the hum of our UFO’s engine. We flow past stars in a constant stream.

"Music is the only thing that takes away the suffering." — Rory Ferreira

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