There’s a type of grief that most of us are never prepared for, the one that sidelines you on a random day of the week. The grief of losing a parent is an intensely complex issue. It saddles the griever with confusion, added responsibilities, and what feels like will be a never-ending sense of dread. When you’re an artist who loses a parent, there’s a strong chance those feelings are going to come out in your art.
That’s why it was so hard to listen to Approach’s new release. When the local rapper lost his father earlier this year, he handled it the best way knows how: through his lyrics. “Again” is an absolutely gut-wrenching song and not for the weak. Through the song, we hear Approach checking in with his father during his grieving stage. He’s giving him updates on his life, his family, and all those casual remarks you wish you could make when your parent is no longer around, to hear their voice and share a few thoughts. The music video is collaged with images from different eras that mirror each other, older photos of Approach with his father interlaced with photos of Approach with his own young son. The line “Thanks for helping me become a man” seals the song before it cuts to soundbites of Approach casually conversing with his son, Cairo, also sending a message to his grandfather “Puba.”
This new release transitions heartbreakingly and endearingly into another new release this week, “Due(Time),” a ballad Approach wrote for Cairo. We hear Approach trying to steer his son to grow into a good person, a nod to how he credits his father for doing the same in “Again.” Death can and will change a person, and the excitement of new fatherhood for Approach is now giving way to sentimentality, urging his son to slow down and enjoy the moments.
Approach is one of our most transparent artists– and really, in hip-hop, there’s only transparency. It’s one of the most honest forms of self-expression, so everything Approach has done has taken us along for the ride. Through his music, we were there when he was coming up in the scene, when he met his wife, through his frustrations in life, and when his son was born. These are all milestones he has graciously invited us to join in on. If we can just hang on through this tough one with him, there will be more.