How Luke Christopher Is Helping Me Choose Between The Devil I Know and The Devil I Don’t
“Sometimes it’s better to face the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” That’s what my mother said to me as she drove me down I-95 South back to school at Providence College following the end of Thanksgiving break. We were discussing my ongoing struggle to decide whether or not I should transfer schools upon the end of the Fall semester.
As soon as I arrived on campus back in August, the fit at Providence didn’t feel completely right and the more time I spent there, the more I thought about what I truly wanted out of my college experience. I knew that I wanted to become a high school English teacher and I knew that I wanted to teach in Massachusetts. Being convinced that that was what I wanted in life, as well as being generally unhappy with where I was at the time, I began to question why I was studying as a Creative Writing major at Providence College in Rhode Island.
This is what prompted my interest in transferring back to a Massachusetts school and what ultimately got me accepted into Endicott College for the Spring semester of 2018. Great, right? Well, not exactly.
Once accepted into another college, and given the choice of whether or not to stay at Providence or go to Endicott, my mind started going into overdrive. I knew that being able to decide between two quality schools to get an education was a good problem to have but it didn’t help settle down my thoughts. Though Providence certainly wasn’t perfect, I was rooming with my best friend as well as two other great guys that I became friends with. Outside of those three, I’ve met plenty of great people that I had already begun to form genuine friendships with. On top of that, great fit or not, Providence is a great school where I would receive a top-notch education. Transferring to Endicott meant giving all of this comfort and stability up.
Though I was originally completely convinced that I wanted to transfer, now that I had to make a decision, I was filled with self-doubt. What if I change my mind about being a teacher? What if I don’t fit in at Endicott either? What if the feeling of being misplaced is part of a bigger issue within myself, and running away from Providence wouldn’t fix it but rather, make it worse? What if sometimes it is better to face the devil you know than the devil you don’t?
For the last couple of months, these seemingly unanswerable questions have been eating me alive. The only place I have been able to find solace is in the music that fills my headphones and brings me to a place of internal peace. It’s a world full of Frank Ocean-penned metaphors, southern-accented Big K.R.I.T punchlines, and BROCKHAMPTON collaborations where life seems to simplify for just as long as the music keeps playing.
The only problem is that when the music stops and the headphones are removed, the real world comes rushing back and puts me on my ass harder than a Sunday morning hangover after a night of drinking to forget.
I’m writing this because tonight has been another good night’s sleep stolen away by an untired mind. Earlier, as the clock ticked on and my eyes remained open, I was surfing through my iTunes library searching for an escape from my present reality. I wanted to forget the weight on my shoulders for a little while and sink into someone else’s universe. It was at that exact moment that I stumbled upon the song “Give Me Your Pain” by Luke Christopher off of his debut album, TMRWFRVR.
The song consists of the internal struggle that the Los Angeles-bred rapper/singer/producer has been facing when it comes to his music and the purpose behind it. I sat in bed with my headphones at full blast as I listened to Christopher dive deep within himself, asking questions and soul searching for the answers, all packed within the song’s singular verse.
He debates the fact that when it comes to music nowadays, often times the less effort and the fewer fucks you give, the cooler you seem and the more fans you receive, “It’s like don’t give a fuck and they love you/Do give a fuck and they hate you.” He asks himself, should he continue to put his heart, sweat, and tears into his craft that he cares so deeply for even if it has a reverse effect on its success?
Furthermore, we witness him question why he is even making music in the first place. Is it for the women and the money and the fame that accompanies music industry success? Or is it for the people who love the music for what it is and find comfort in the words he spits into the mic, “Who in the hell do I fight for?/What in the hell do I write for?/Is it bitches or hearts that need stitches?/And what I am saying this all in a mic for?” Essentially, Christopher is asking himself which direction should he really take his music? Should it be superficial and shallow while aimed for mainstream success? Or should it be real and true to his heart for the people that are seeking help and find it through his music?
Finally, we see Christopher begin to doubt himself as he admits that maybe he is committing too much of himself to his music and too little of himself to enjoying his life and opportunities while he can, “I just spend too much time up in the studio/I should be runnin’ around, hittin’ the town.” The question is asked; should he live within the music or the world?
The song is full of attempts to decide between separate paths and even more so, it is full of self-doubt. Though I began the night looking for a song that would allow me to escape the trouble on my mind, I ended up finding one that allowed me to confront the very same problems instead.
Ultimately, the song isn’t a long one, clocking in at a runtime of just two minutes and nine seconds. All of the questions that Christopher asks are tightly and economically woven into the song’s only rapped verse and placed in between two short but powerful intros and outros. But “Give Me Your Pain” truly doesn’t need to be any longer than it is. It’s a song that asks tough questions and demands even tougher answers and sure, it can be beneficial to face those questions and find those answers. However, if you dwell on them for too long, they can begin to swallow you whole.
Up until this point and this song, I recently had been stuck in a cycle of using music as a way to forget my troubles. It was as if each song I listened to was a pull on a blunt that allowed me to relax and take a break from overthinking with each hit. But now, within the entirety of “Give Me Your Pain,” I found a place in which I could relate my own struggles to that of Luke Christopher’s. As I questioned which path to take with my own life, he did the same with his music. I didn’t forget about the decisions that awaited me just outside my headphones but rather, I was comforted in spite of them.
In the song’s intro, Christopher asks us to put our trust in him while promising us that relief from the weight on our shoulders is woven within his music. “Give me all of your pain/And I’ll promise that/I’ll make sure it stays away/It won’t get out of yesterday.” In the song’s outro, he leaves us on the promise that he will always be there for us through his music, just as long as we keep on listening, “And I, I’ve made enough mistakes, I know it’s true/I’m always gon’ be there for you/If you always gon’ be there for me/I’m always gon’ be there for you.” It is in these two gripping bookends that the true comfort is given. We all want someone to be there for us unconditionally and it’s nice to hear someone promise us that luxury. That’s what Luke Christopher gave me tonight.
On a grander scale, I like to view Luke Christopher’s promises with his own music as music as a whole. In life, I’m finally learning that we’re going to be faced with major decisions with multiple possible outcomes and we’re going to have to live with the consequences that follow our choices. The path that should be chosen won’t always be clear and when we do choose, the path won’t always be paved. But it’s comforting to know that music is always going to be there as an outlet.
Whether it is to forget or to contemplate, we’re never going to be alone as long as we have a pair of headphones. As of writing this, I couldn’t tell you whether I’m going to leave or stay but I can tell you that music is going to help me through whatever I decide. Luke Christopher reminded me of that, and that my friends, is what music is all about.