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Guts Over Fear

(Finding Hope Through Music & Expressive Art)

Music has not been so much an art to me as it has a way of life. A way of dealing with life.

All forms of expressive arts have always interested me but music was probably the first I fell in love with. So when a fellow writer from Kragujevac, Serbia approached me about a possible collaboration on a post, I was excited when she mentioned music as a potential topic. A special thank you to Nevena for the inspiration behind this post.

My first introduction to music really came through a Walkman and early 90’s R&B cassettes that were given to me by an older cousin as a Christmas gift. It’s crazy how I could not tell you what I was given as a gift as recent as last year, yet I still vividly recall opening them cassettes twenty five years ago. My cousin Joey who gave them to me along with the Walkman was my idol growing up, what he listened to is what I listened to. What he found funny, I laughed at.

So when he assured me that Boyz-2-Men, Immature, All-4-One and Soul For Real were what I needed to be listening to, I just believed him.

For Joey, music was not something he listened to but something he wanted to actively pursue, as he was eight years older than me and was half decent at singing, from what I recall anyway.

He always talked about the things he’d one day do, be it through singing or rapping or producing music. Joey was a dreamer and that is probably where I too picked up the habit of not settling.

Of believing anything was possible for myself and I was capable of doing anything I chose to. Joey found hope in music and I learned to do the same from him.

Growing up, I was obsessed with any musician who had something real to say and found a way to spread an authentic message within the music they were making, regardless of who agreed with that message.

As I’ve written about previously, 2Pac was a favorite of mine well before he probably should have been, from an explicit language standpoint anyhow. His ‘Hit Em’ Up’ was more than I was able to deal with when it was released when I was eight years old. I think I owned all of his albums by the time I was eleven years old.

From there I would go on to the likes of Nirvana and Marilyn Manson. Until Eminem released ‘The Slim Shady LP’ in 1999 and I would fall in love with hip hop through and through from there on out.

As a part of the collaboration Nevena and I talked about, she sent me a list of 25 prompts, all having to do with specific songs. For my first entry I chose prompt number nine from the list in the picture below,which is

“A Song That Makes You Hopeful”.

When I think of a song that makes me hopeful, none other than Eminem’s “Guts Over Fear” comes to mind. Below are the complete lyrics as posted by Google Play Music

Guts Over Fear (Written and performed by: Eminem Featuring Sia)

Chorus & Intro

Feels like a close, it’s coming to

Fuck am I gonna do?

It’s too late to start over

This is the only thing I, thing I know…

Sometimes I feel like all I ever do is

Find different ways to word the same, old song

Ever since I came along

From the day the song called ‘’Hi! My Name Is’’ dropped

Started thinking my name was fault

’Cause anytime things went wrong

I was the one who they would blame it on

The media made me the equivalent of a modern-day Genghis Khan

Tried to argue it was only entertainment, dawg

Gangsta? Naw, courageous balls

Had to change my style, they said I’m way too soft

And I sound like AZ and Nas, out came the claws

And the fangs been out since then

But up until the instant that I’ve been against it

It was ingrained in me that I wouldn’t amount to a shitstain I thought

No wonder I had to unlearn everything my brain was taught

Do I really belong in this game? I pondered

I just wanna play my part, should I make waves or not?

So back and forth in my brain the tug of war wages on

And I don’t wanna seem ungrateful or disrespect the artform I was raised upon

But sometimes you gotta take a loss

And have people rub it in your face before you get made pissed off

And keep pluggin’, it’s your only outlet

And your only outfit so you know they gonna talk about it

Better find a way to counter it quick and make it, ah

Feel like I’ve already said this a kabillion eighty times

How many times can I say the same thing different ways that rhyme?

What I really wanna say is, is there anyone else that can relate to my story?

Bet you feel the same way I felt when I was in the same place you are

Chorus: I was afraid to

Make a single sound

Afraid I would never find a way out, out, out

Afraid like never before

I didn’t wanna go another round

An angry man’s power will shut you up

Trip wires fill this house with tip-toe love

Run out of excuses for every one

So here I am and I will not run

Guts over fear, (The time is here)

Guts over fear, (I shall not tear)

For all the times I let you push me around

And let you keep me down

(Now I got) Guts over fear, guts over fear

Feels like a close, it’s coming to

Fuck am I gonna do?

It’s too late to start over

This is the only thing I, thing I know

Verse 2:

I know what it was like, I was there once, single parents

Hate your appearance, did you struggle to find your place in this world?

And the pain spawns all the anger on

But it wasn’t until I put the pain in songs learned who to aim it on

That I made a spark, started to spit hard as shit

Learned how to harness it while the reins were off

And there was a lot of bizarre shit, but the crazy part

Was soon as I stopped saying “I gave a fuck”

Haters started to appreciate my art

And it just breaks my heart to look at all the pain I’ve caused

But what am I gonna do when the rage is gone?

And the lights go out in the trailer park?

And the window that was closing and there’s nowhere else I can go with flows in

And I’m frozen cause there’s no more emotion for me to pull from

Just a bunch of playful songs that I made for fun

So to the break of dawn here I go recycling the same, old song

But I’d rather make “Not Afraid 2” than making another mothafuckin’ “We Made You” uh

Now I don’t wanna seem indulgent when I discuss my lows and my highs

My demise and my uprise, pray to God

I just opened enough eyes later on

Gave you the supplies and the tools to hopefully use it to make you strong

And enough to lift yourself up when you feel like I felt

’Cause I can’t explain to y’all how dang exhausted my legs felt

Just having to balance my damn self

But on eggshells I was made to walk

But thank you, ma, ’cause that gave me the

Strength to cause Shady-mania, so many empty that stadium

At least I made it out of that house and a found a place in this world when the day was done

So this is for every kid who all’s they ever did was dreamt that one day they’d just getting accepted

I represent him or her, anyone similar, you are the reason that I made this song

Everything you’re scared to say don’t be afraid to say no more

From this day on forward, just let them a-holes talk

Take it with a grain of salt and eat their fucking faces off

The legend of the angry blonde lives on through you when I’m gone

And to think I was gone

I was afraid to

Chorus To End

(Now I got) Guts over fear, guts over fear (End)

(Written by John Hill, Sia Furler, Emile Haynie, Marshall Mathers, L Resto • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group)

In addition, below is the official music video for the song, which I believe you are robbing yourself of if you should choose not to watch it. I understand most people probably didn’t even read the lyrics to the song, that’s okay. This post is not for them people, it is for the ones who are still reading and will watch the video below.

So this song and video came out in September of 2014, I didn’t have to Google it to be sure, I remember it vividly. I was just about at rock bottom but still thought I had one or two good ideas left. You see, I always had bright ideas that seemed to only box me further into the corner I was always trying to fight my way out of.

I had just once again lost a job I had only taken because it was the first one offered and was easy. It allowed me to work from home and really didn’t involve much. Yes, I found a way to fuck up a job that allowed me to work from home a few days a week. I assure you it was not as glorious as it sounds.

Lets dive into the lyrics and collectively figure out why I love this song so much shall we?

“Feels like a close, it’s coming to

Fuck am I gonna do?

It’s too late to start over

This is the only thing I, thing I know”

That is precisely how I felt after losing yet another job, which initiated yet another argument with my Father, which led to yet another one way train ticket to my Mother’s just outside Atlantic City, NJ.

This bullshit had been going on since I was fourteen. I was over it. I was sick and tired of everything I seen going on around me. More importantly, of the life I was living as a whole.

I knew I needed to make major changes, I just didn’t know where to start or think it was possible.

“Sometimes I feel like all I ever do is
Find different ways to word the same old song”

Again, completely captures how I felt at the time I first heard this song. It felt like my life was a constant cycle of the same bullshit scenarios my bad decisions would box me into and I was once again singing the same sorry song of excuses to the same people to try and get out of them.

“’Cause anytime things went wrong
I was the one who they would blame it on”

I’m so good at Martyrdom it’s pathetic. Although I can honestly say I was being blamed for a fair amount of things I did not do around the time this song was released, I was also guilty for a lot in which I was never brought up on any form of charge nor ever faced the consequences of my actions for, call it karmic justice I guess.

“It was ingrained in me that I wouldn’t amount to a shitstain I thought
No wonder I had to unlearn everything my brain was taught”

I’ve always had the underdog, they’ve already counted me out type of mentality. In retrospect, sometimes without warrant. Although, there were plenty of grown adults, middle managers, teachers, supervisors, babysitters and so on and so forth along my route who would go out of their way to assure you that you would never be shit, when you would disobey, anger or embarrass them. Shame on them.

In September of 2014, I knew I had to change my entire line of thinking. Nothing I had done up to that point ever worked for me, none of it was ever sustainable and a lot of it was built on grandeur disillusion.

“But sometimes you gotta take a loss

And have people rub it in your face before you get made pissed off
And keep pluggin’, it’s your only outlet
And your only outfit so you know they gonna talk about it
Better find a way to counter it quick and make it, ah”

Again, these words may as well have written by me, other than the fact they were written by someone clearly exponentially as talented.

I knew writing was the only thing I was any good at. I knew that is what I wanted to and was meant to be doing but wasn’t.

I was so tired of eating shit from other people. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of all the time as well as getting kicked in the proverbial nuts by life time and time again.

“What I really wanna say is, is there anyone else that can relate to my story?
Bet you feel the same way I felt when I was in the same place you are”

As I’ve been saying, somewhat redundantly at this point, I related to essentially every word and theme of this song. I felt every word on the deepest of levels. The video and the song’s message as a whole gave me a spark of hope at a time when I had none. If you take the time to watch the music video, it’s easy to understand why.

I remember sitting on my Mother’s back porch listening to this song and silently singing along to the chorus in my head.

“Fuck am I gonna’ do?”

But then I also remember listening to the rest of the song and finding a glimmer of hope.

I believe that is what music and all forms of expressive art do for us as a whole, they connect us. They speak to us in ways that even the creator may not have seen coming. I have found hope in music time and time again. I have found connections through art, with people from vastly different walks of life, for as long as I can remember. This has been just another brief look into that part of my life.

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Brian Brewington

Brian Brewington

Writing About the Human Condition, via My Thoughts, Observations, Experiences, and Opinions — Founder of Journal of Journeys and BRB INC ©