Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Track Attack- "Wake Me When It's Over"

 The-Dream aka Terius Nash
Nash's song "Wake Me When It's Over," is featured in this week's Track Attack.

2011 may well be a banner year for rappers and R&B singers when it is comes to painful self-disclosures. Between Drake's drunk dialing on "Marvin's Room," J. Cole's wearisome abortion narrative "Lost Ones," and Frank Ocean's tale of love and drugs gone awry "Novacane," agonizing soul-bearing is "all the rage" this year. But for my money, one song in particular is more detached and downhearted than all the rest; it's the subject of this week's Track Attack.

The song in question this time out is The-Dream's song "Wake Me When It's Over." The track appears on The-Dream's most-recent release, a free album entitled 1977. Curiously, the album is credited to The-Dream's birth name of Terius Nash and not The-Dream, to mitigate blow-back from his label who didn't approve the release. The album itself is influenced by a time of turmoil for Nash who went through an intense public-divorce with Christina Milan. References to Milan and the divorce abound on the album, with "Wake Me When It's Over," being the pinnacle of that.

The-Dream with now ex-wife Christina Milan.
The couple went through a heated-divorce that was only recently finalized.

Beginning with cavernous drums and a two-stepping synthesizer, Nash immediately cuts in "Wake me when it's over." Within a matter of seconds, we as listeners who may not be familiar with the Milan drama still know that something is wrong. After repeating the sentiment several times, Nash further elaborates on what  he longs to sleep through. "I hate it when you go, I love to watch you leave. I hate the way you talk to me, I love you in them jeans." With this couplet we know more about Nash's mindset, he's clearly conflicted, but we're still in the dark. Nash moves to a litany of questions being asked of him: "What have you been drinking? What have I been doin'? Where I was last night?" With that final inquiry, Nash retorts, "Do you mean who I been screwin?" In one turn-of-phrase, we now know he is being indicted for infidelity.
Most men in Nash' situation would attempt to evade the question or mince words, but he admits to "looking like a devil." That self-criticism doesn't last long and he is soon on the offensive, "you're wearing the red dress, holding the shovel." He dials it down again and confesses to "trying to keep it hush." Nash knows he can't run from the situation, because he's guilty of everything he's being accused of. With the coming of the chorus, Nash confirms the end of the relationship dejectedly singing, "you knew that it was over. I knew it was over. Everyone knew it was over."
"Long Gone"- !977
A spiritual companion to "Wake Me When It's Over;" mining similar themes.

At this point, we would assume that Nash would call it quits and leave, but he can't. He continues to dwell on the relationship, crafting arguably one of the finest verses of any singer this year.
"I love the way you smell, but you're always on some bulls**t. I love how your body feels, why must we do this? Stop with the excuses, I hate procrastination. You never had no one like me, well why you so complacent? Now I'm feeling crazy and foolish, I hate that I'm impatient, why must we do this?" 

The complacency line is particularly poignant and is Nash's greatest strike back at his former love. If her sentiment holds, and he's the best she's ever had, then why is she so quick to let him go? In Nash's own mind, that should be enough, but he admits he's "feeling crazy and foolish." So in essence, Nash defeats his own argument, his own "impatience" dooming him as much as any physical sin he committed.
After the magnificent second verse, an auto-tuned bridge appears and the music dies down, taking the song's despondency to new depths. In this moment, Nash is starting to see things more clearly, though still not entirely owning up. "It was all downhill when we let them in our business." Even now, Nash is only seeing part of the problem, while his public-nature had a lot to do with his downfall; it was betrayal that "did him in."

Nash with assistant Melissa Santiago.
Photos like this represent the, "life on the Internet," Nash is referencing in the song.

After another chorus, Nash goes in attack-mode one final time, but dials it down near the verse's end as he hearkens back to a prior line, "I'll take the bullets, you can pull it," referencing "biting the bullet," from earlier in the song. In that encapsulating moment, Nash takes responsibility for his transgressions and reflects a final time on everyone who "knew it was over." The song then speeds up to highlight this moment clarity, before fading away.
As I said before, 2011 has been a near banner year for self-disclosure with the difference between "Wake Me When It's Over," and the other songs being in the details. J. Cole comes the closest to Nash on narrative, as abortion is never an easy subject to tackle, but unless the song is from J. Cole's perspective and not an unnamed narrator, the personal touch is lost. In the case of "Novacane," feeling for Frank Ocean dissipates within seconds, as he admits to "getting what he wanted." Finally, Drake is bringing on his own destruction, calling up an ex trying to ruin her current happiness for his own temporary pleasure. While these are all dire straits to be in, "Wake Me When It's Over," stands out not just because it happened, but because all that Nash could do was "sleep" through the worst. When confronted with situations like this, we all long to go to sleep and wake up when the storm has past. The harsh truth though is like Nash we can't, we have to be held accountable and "bite the bullet."

"Wake Me When It's Over"


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