I have to admit. I’m honestly shocked by the debut for “One of My Angels.” I mean, I knew it was a good song. I put my heart and soul into crafting it, talking about three people who helped shape my life. However, in a weekend that saw the song shoot up my most-popular songs on Spotify and amass about 3,000-4,000 streams, I wasn’t exactly prepared for the positive feedback. I also am of the train of thought that you should give people what they’re asking for–as long as it aligns with your end goal.
Earlier today, I announced via Twitter that the album was going to be released earlier than expected. Instead of releasing on the anniversary of my mother’s death (March 28, 2022), I instead am opting for a release of December 28, 2021. That day marks about a decade to the day since the first time I moved back with my mother and stepfather, due to disagreements I had with my children’s mother. I chose this date because that was a traumatic experience for everyone involved. However, it was one that I needed to have to become a better man and, more importantly, a better father. Since No Pain No Gain (now with no subtitle) is an album all about dealing with loss and trauma, it didn’t make as much sense to release it as a commemoration of my mother. As this project may very well be my final rap album, I felt it was important to leave about a decade since my first efforts as SOTB popped up on True’s Soul Revival 1.
You’re also probably wondering “why is the album cover basic when compared to other SOTB albums?” I mean, most SOTB albums have somewhat intricate covers. However, I wanted to have an album cover that spoke directly to what I did on the album. Orange and black feature prominently on the cover, which features the words “no pain no gain” repeated in black font, aside from one instance where they’re written in a white font. Orange is one of those colors that represents life, rebirth, happiness and a sense of “I want to be here.” Dealing with traumas is important, but you have to want to deal with them and you have want to be here after you’re done dealing with them. Traumas work their way into our lives on a level we’re sometimes not even aware of. But to become a better person, we have to want to change and want to be better than the person we were before.
The colors orange and black are also important to me because those two colors feature prominently in Baltimore Orioles merchandise (a constant in my life, even when they’re not doing so well) and regalia related to my high school, Baltimore City College. Additionally, those colors show up a lot in my album artwork (probably more than I’d like to admit) and are a direct contrast from album covers from the 2011-2013 era of SOTB (which found my album covers usually being dark collages of images). There are also four faint images of a photo of my mother and I, continuing/expounding on the “One of My Angels” story and showing that, even through the most traumatic times, we can find beauty.
I hope that you all love this album as much as it was therapeutic for me to make.