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  • Writer's pictureJamie Varley

Peace Is Something That Starts With Me

The Album

Kids See Ghosts

We all have our struggles. Each and every one of us have our “black dog”, a feeling of self-doubt or a crippling worry that we have to drag around like an anvil. Whether it’s telling ourselves we’re not good enough, overthinking past mistakes, or a paralyzing self-doubt that stops us from getting out of bed in the morning, there are feelings that all of us have dealt with in one form or another, some more than others. Too often, we lock these struggles in deep down, believing that expressing them will at best bore people and at worst drive those close to you further away as they fail to understand what we’re going through – which is ironic, seeing as the struggles we believe nobody would understand are often shared by those we’re closest to.

This is the case for two of music’s most daring creators, each of whom have ushered in new movements based on their emotionally driven music. Kid Cudi and Kanye West have both been open about mental struggles for years – Cudi turning to drugs to cope with his depression and self-doubt, and Kanye succumbing to the pressure that comes hand in hand with his status.

Both reached a breaking point in 2016 when each took time away from the public eye to get medical attention – Cudi checked into rehab and drug counselling while Kanye was hospitalized for sleep deprivation. The black dog was no longer in the periphery but was now taking center stage with the real opportunity to end both of their careers.

Instead of suppressing these feelings as so many of us do, Kanye and Cudi tackled them head on in Kids See Ghosts, taking their private battles with mental health to the spotlight. This acted primarily as a way to vent for the two protagonists, a sort of therapy session to clear their minds and exorcise their dreams. But years later, the legacy of this album speaks to the freedom about the importance and power about opening up about struggles with mental health.


The Food

Japanese Cheesecake

Cheesecake is synonymous with American cuisine – it is as requisite as a martini in a dimly-lit, leather-bound menu diner. Cheesecake’s roots go much farther back that, with an origin that may catch you by surprise.

The first recorded cheesecake recipe contained flour, wheat, honey and cheese and was fed to Olympic athletes to build up their stamina. Very different from a cheesecake now, where the only physical exertion required after consuming one being to loosen your belt buckle a few notches.

And while rich, creamy cheesecake is what immediately comes to mind, the dessert has many incarnations, including the focus of this week’s experience after stopping by Japan following the second World War.

As Japan began reinventing itself culturally and making leaps and strides technologically (see electric refrigerators), the food scene became just as vibrant. Chefs were opened up to cheesecake from international travels and began to perfect their own at home – the souffle, or fuwa fuwa (fluffy fluffy) cheesecake.

The souffle cheesecake is delicately light and airy, as most egg white creations are. The secret to keeping the dish light comes with the water bath that the cheesecake bakes in, ensuring that the heat does not dry the spongy insides. Everything about this meal is carefully and particularly done, with the result being something so gentle and delectable that it feels like you’re taking a bite out of a Himalayan cloud.

Topped with fresh mint and a tangy gooseberry to stimulate a watering mouth, this meal’s grace heals any wounds and satisfies a perfectly tasteful amount.


The Experience

If I could capture this experience in one word it would be healing. The healing we didn’t know we needed, or the reprieve from torment that we really did. It is to celebrate ourselves for the battles we’ve won and lost, and despite all our flaws or imperfections.

The cake represents the uplifting comfort that comes with embracing our weaknesses. Similar to the album, it only lasts a fleeting few moments, but those moments represent catharsis and healing through a epicurean sensation unlike any other.

Hip hop for too long has been about an outward persona of strength, unflappability, and confidence. It mirrors how we had all been taught to act, specifically the weakness that comes with expressing vulnerability. For two of the game’s biggest stars to open up about their weakness should open the gates for all of us looking to do the same.

As Kanye said one week earlier on his solo album ye, “That’s my bipolar shit…that’s my superpower”. We’re all imperfect dealing with our own struggles, but we’re not weak for having them… we’re human.


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