In addition to being the first song on the album, this was the first song that I finished and the only song that was inspired by events in my life during this time period. It is also my least favorite song on the album and I did not decide to include it until the whole project was almost finished. The story behind this song begins at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 while I was having a bit of a reality check about my life situation.
For all of 2015, I was flat out uninspired to write anything. Why? I was having one of the best years of my life and I’m apparently incapable of writing lyrics when I’m happy. Music was still a major part of my life during that time period, however, and 2015 saw the release of Out of the Blue, an instrumental drum & bass album that I released as Nonsequitor. This album contained a large amount of experimentation that would go on to play a major role in the production of Origins. I was also more interested in producing electronic music for singers than writing my own music. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), I never crossed paths with anyone who really meshed with my production style so by the time 2016 came around, the idea of starting to rap again was constantly nagging me.
Eventually, a couple of things caused me to turn that idea into reality. The first had to do with a break up I was going through at the time and the second had to do with being unemployed with the end of grad school rapidly approaching. I won’t go into the details about either situation, but I will say that the end of those two things that made 2015 so special caused me to think about the fragility of stability, contentment, and happiness. This is what led me to write “Hope for the Best,” the first song that I had written since 2014’s “Crossroads.”
I approached this song differently from how I usually approach songs. Instead of producing the beat first and writing the lyrics to it, I wrote the lyrics to another beat and then produced a new beat under the lyrics. This relieved some of the pressure that I usually put on myself to stay on a predetermined topic and instead allowed whatever was on my mind to flow onto the page (this was before I started writing lyrics on my phone and computer). Considering what I was going through at the time, I wasn’t surprised by anything that came out of me in terms of lyrics. I was surprised, however, with what came out of me musically when I started working on the beat. I think since I was listening to a ton of Bjork at the time (especially her third album, Homogenic), that trippy electronic style combined with classical instrumentation naturally carried over to this song (and later to “Assembly Line”). The result was something that sounded nothing like my previous hip-hop tracks.
Even though I was happy overall with how the song came out, I had no plans to release it. Why? I thought it was too sad and depressing for anyone to enjoy and I had had enough of people throwing shade at me for “crying” so much on my old Ry-Man stuff (I’m talking Fundamentalism and Objectivism days here). So, I let this song sit and I proceeded to work on “Assembly Line” and “Live In Fear.” As I started nearing the completion of Origins though, I realized that this song would fit the story arc of the album if I placed it at the very beginning. That way, the listener could experience the progression of feeling completely powerless in this song to feeling completely powerful in “2084.” So, ironically, I ended up making this the first track on the album. There have been a few drawbacks to that decision but overall, I think that it was the right move and I don’t regret it.