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The Daily Tar Heel

Office DJ: Comfort rap for the midsemester blues

Leo Culp is the Audio Editor for the 2021-2022 school year.

A recent habit I picked up again is making playlists that run roughly an hour long.

For the longest time, my family made mixtapes and mix CDs, and while Spotify makes it easy to make playlists over ten hours long, something about the "less is more" route has always attracted me. 

It was something in the way that my dad talked about making mixes that excited me just as much as the music itself. He gave off “High Fidelity” energy, talking about them as if they were something he was genuinely proud of creating. And as my sister and I got older, we did the same, making CDs to listen to in our Chevrolet Tahoe and planning every song placement and transition. 

Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, making these playlists made finding new music seem like it had an end goal — rather than just being something to distract myself. I made one about every two weeks, just to have something to hold on and look forward to. 

But lately, it’s seemed like just another thing to pass the time. I always feel a little disconnected from new music when I’m anxious, and that’s been fairly frequent as of late. 

My playlist is from a time this summer when I felt far from anxious (for the first time in months). 

It’s not the greatest mix I’ve ever made, nor is it something that holds a lot of emotional weight to me. But it comes from a time when I drove up Interstate 85 toward Chapel Hill to sleep on a semi-comfortable couch in late July. I was excited to be an extrovert for what felt like the first time in years. 

It’s a reminder of when I listened to “Tha Carter III” on repeat for two weeks, of driving through Atlanta to “Stankonia”, of how much Isaiah Rashad’s “The House Is Burning” meant when returning this semester. 

As I’ve made more mixes, I’ve begun to understand why my dad held onto so many through the years. These songs might not be the most important in my life right now, but remembering that version of myself gives me faith I will have that energy again, someday. 

The return to a "normal" world has brought exhaustion to a lot of us. I’ve felt excited for every new week even as I left the last one drained — but that excitement has begun to wane. Especially with the recent tragedies in our community, I wanted to share a little piece of what’s helping me through it. 

And even if you don’t listen to my playlist, I hope you listen to something that brings you comfort, or at least reminds you that you had it.


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