Definitive Records asks interesting Vancouverites to scour their sonic-led memories to pull out the three albums anchoring their musical tastes.
For this round, local writer and model – with a killer sense of style – Lydia Okello accepts our challenge to name the three most informative records in their life, so far: “This might be one of the hardest assignments I’ve ever had…think of it as a list that includes these records but is not limited to these records.”
Kanye West | Graduation (2007)
Kanye – where to begin… I think there is a major caveat here: I do not condone Kanye’s current actions or his presidential campaign/MAGA era/etc. The Kanye of 2022 is not the Kanye of 2007. As a longtime listener and former Kanye fan, it’s hard to narrow his best work down to just one album. Graduation stands out to me for a myriad of reasons. I saw Ye on this tour. The tracks have a huge nostalgia factor; listening to this record as I got ready to leave high school and make my way in the world. The bombastic arrogance, the unforgettable beats and samples, the lyrical double entendres, not to mention an iconic T-Pain track. It reminds me of the naivety of my teen years alongside the deeper contemplation that began percolating at the time. What does life actually mean? How does one navigate loving nice things and knowing that materialism won’t deliver you happiness or contentment? The blistering highs and introspective lows give us a window into Kanye’s thought processes that we saw play out in years to come. The track I could leave behind: “Drunk and Hot Girls”. Misogynistic flop. Also, as someone who doesn’t come by unabashed confidence naturally, this album always delivers when I need to remind myself that the world “can’t tell me nothing.”
Lauryn Hill | The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
This is a record that, in my opinion, is undeniable and perhaps Lauryn at her best. I heard the radio singles as a kid, but the first time I remember really deep diving this album was at my summer job picking blueberries during the summer of Grade 11. I’d pass the long, hot hours by singing along to it and listening closely to the lyrics. Lauryn released her debut solo project alongside the birth of her first child, and this precariousness in her life makes the record naturally contemplative. It springs in many directions, speaking on misogyny in the music industry, being in love, struggles connected to being a powerful woman, survival, betrayal, poverty, spirituality and the regrets of youth. Also, Lauryn is blessed with a voice that sinks into your bones. Over the years, I’ve found that I connect to different parts of the narrative, which I think is a beautiful thing. The lessons or “miseducation” I get from listening in my 30s are drastically different than in my teens. There is still so much to unearth.
Solange Knowles | A Seat At The Table (2016)
Solange Knowles has the privilege (or curse?) of living in the shadow of one of our generation’s biggest pop stars (Beyoncé, in case you missed that). It’s clear that Solange has used this proximity to create a world that is wholly based in her internal vision. 2016’s A Seat At The Table verbalized so many of the emotions bubbling up for many Black folks, having witnessed the continuation of police brutality and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. This album is deeply important to me in many ways. I had the privilege of seeing an intimate performance of this album and meeting Solange as she toured this work. A modern artistic exploration of sound, visuals and movement, Solange cuts into a Black American experience that might seem “contrary” to a mainstream media’s perception of Blackness. It’s a soothing ode to the ways Black art has shaped culture as a whole, as Solange explores her own Black creativity. The affirmation of the complexities of trying to make it and make art in a world that sees you as Black first and human second is particularly poignant here.