illinois rapper pizza boy tackles mental illness, personal failure head-on on final album
By Sound Check
September 11, 2017
By Lightning Pill*, AFROPUNK Contributor
The moment you press play on Bad Sunday, you will hear a few things: a cinematic beat reminiscent of Kanye West’s oldest work, lyrics pitting the protagonist at the top of a cliff, thoughts of suicide, and an emotional climax where pizza boy finally loses it on everyone from his family to Donald Trump. For those who want an explanation of all this: pizza boy has had enough!
Before this, pizza boy tackled his depression in ways that allowed us to at least laugh with him. In albums such as futility EP (listen to him shortly rant about his laptop on “death march” and try not to snicker a little, while you are sympathizing with him) and even his hot-n-ready vol. 1 mixtape, he had rhymes and skits that balanced his inner grievances with his sense of comedic timing.
What makes Bad Sunday a really compelling final album is the fact that he is willing to be open about literally everything that has been going on in his life.
From words about his mental illness issues and how he has got it from his family and how he has been grinding hard enough to go nowhere with being a rapper, Bad Sunday is the most vulnerable, no(t as much) bullshit album that pizza boy has ever released.
The interesting thing about how Pizza Boy started is how he briefly compared suicide to leaving hip-hop behind, but that comparison doesn’t last for long, as he paints a vivid and spot-on picture of depression and perhaps, even, stockholm syndrome.
“Figured he’d go forever if he didn’t end himself
Had a curse of resolve; he’d been in hell
Wouldn’t leave; worried about what the demons felt
But staying wasn’t a kind way to treat himself
Stalemate; soul couldn’t take it
Soon enough, it shriveled up and died from the stasis
And then the spirit went, so why stick around?
Deceased too long; it’s time to stop living now.”
But before he did, he reminisces about getting laughed at by peers to being talked down to by his family (“damn shame”, “bell’s palsy”, bits of “laid to rest”), reveals to his family that he lost all of his hope (“tumbleweed”, where the most notable quote is “Yeah, your child is finished, your grandson is demented/Your big brother gave up, your favorite cousin is fucked/I’m a failure, a tragedy; say what you want/I don’t know what I fought, I just know that I lost”) and says that, nowadays, he gives even less of a damn about the plight of white people (“menace”).
In fact, the failure to be a part of a good family has become both reoccurring subject and a metaphor, even for songs like “the corpse groom”, featuring avant-pop anomaly Clarence Clarity, which scolds mother earth in the face of God or father time.
But even in the face of absolute despair, pizza boy still finds time to slightly laugh at something, and that includes the hip-hop industry.
Two of the most reoccurring jokes pizza boy cracks is homosexuality’s ability to both sneak homosexual lyrics for sport and take their producers for granted. On his EP Futility, it begins with a track that name-checks everyone but one of his constant producers, Ly Moula. This time, Lyle decides to strike back interrupting “it’s fuckin’ fake”, a track where pizza boy talks about how his hard work in making music has led him nowhere. As for his Young Thug moment, take a listen to the end of “menace” minus the built in skit. “Don’t you know I am close to the edge? I’m trying not to give you head!” which can possibly be taken as a Thuggerian metaphor for gun-assisted suicide.
Anyway, the genius of Bad Sunday is this: most people who listen to an album that tackles depression or any mental illness at all want to hear something uplifting. They want to hear something promising them that one day they will get out of feeling like life isn’t problematic on all sides. That maybe life is going to be breezy one day.
But sometimes, you need an album that is cathartic, sarcastic, seething, and all-around honest.
Sometimes, you need an album that tells people to shut the fuck up and let you bask in the darkness a little longer before you get back. It’s just too bad that in order for it to happen, Pizza Boy has to drop his last ever record using the Pizza Boy moniker. But such is life, I suppose.
*What’s good? I’m Lightning Pill, a singer-songwriter, poet, producer, composer, avid blogger, artist, Aspie, husband, 90s kid and a master of a cardcarrying member of the Massachusetts Middlefinger Committee. Respect my gangsta.
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