“Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It’s the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost, and that someone else’s pain is as meaningful as your own.”
One of the great ironies of human existence is the fact that while we can’t stand to see someone in pain, the artistic expression of that pain is somehow incredibly therapeutic. We then find out that we’re not alone, and if someone has the courage to put their darkest fears into something we can feel, then perhaps we have the strength to carry on ourselves. Perhaps this is why Tech N9ne’s K.O.D., his darkest album, carries so much weight with a great multitude of fans.
One of those fans, John Garcia, 19, from San Antonio, TX, was someone that used Tech N9ne’s personal demons and anguish as a spiritual rehabilitation. As it turns out, one fateful purchase at his local record store would prove to be a turning point in his life.
“I’d heard him here and there on collaboration albums and with ICP. I was actually big into the Hell’s Pit album from ICP. That was where the horrorcore started for me. I saw the K.O.D. album and was like ‘You know what? I don’t really own anything of Tech’s so I might as well get this one.’ I got it not knowing much about it and not knowing much about Tech’s background and stuff. Man, once I heard that album it was on repeat forever pretty much.”
Although John was only 15 at the time of the purchase, he could easily relate to palpable pain expressed on the album. John’s father had been a cocaine addict, a fact that was made apparent to John at a very young age.
“I was about 11 or 12. We had a little get together at our place and it was already late and everybody was already gone but him, my uncle and my uncle’s two friends. They were in the backyard and they were drinking and doing their thing and I kind of went out there and I saw him pretty much pin my uncle against the wall. They were about to go at it and I was like ‘What the fuck?’ You know what I mean?
After that night my mom started yelling at him and pretty much almost kicked him out of the house because I had found out that my uncle’s friend had sold him some baking soda – the bad coke basically. He got mad and was like ‘You fucking cheated me out!’ He got mad. They pretty much started to go at it. My dad was big compared to my uncle so he almost had him pinned against the wall for awhile. I was like ‘Dude, really?’ So I went upstairs and stated crying.
I was mad at the world pretty much for awhile because they gave me this fucked up dad. That was pretty much when I found out that he did all this stuff back in the day and he still does it now and everything.”
His father’s selfish streak of erratic behavior and heavy spending on cocaine would prove to be a constant antagonist to John, his mother, and everyone else in the family. In between her constant bouts of sadness, John’s mom would constantly work, forcing John to be the man of the house. John would raise his little brother on his own. His father’s expensive addiction would put the family in constant debt. The fact that these problems were mostly caused by the gripping effects of drug addiction added a disheartening element to the struggle.
When life led John to the record store to cop the CD of a suited Tech N9ne on the cover, the resonance the music created proved to be immediate and long-lasting. John describes how Tech’s darkest content would somehow bring light to his struggle:
“It has a real gloomy setting. The ‘Leave Me Alone’ song pretty much told me ‘You know what? All the bullshit? Fuck off.’ Hearing ‘Low’ reminded me of stuff I was going through with my dad. A lot of the storytelling told me that this guy has problems. He’s been through a lot of stuff. I can relate to some of it. Not everything word for word that he’s been through but I can relate to the pain and a lot of the nonsense and the bullshit that he has to go through.
“It’s kind of a mental hug I guess. It’s like a mental ‘Yo man, we’ve all been through shit. Take some of my pain and I put it in a way to get you to relax and fight through whatever you’re fighting. Just use it for good.’ That’s pretty much how I see it. It’s nothing too crazy or too descriptive, it’s just a simple meaning to me. To break it down, it’s almost like a mental hug I guess, like a pat on the back that ‘You’re going to be alright man.’ You know what I mean?”
Listening to K.O.D. went along with John growing into a man with understanding way beyond his years. Much like Tech N9ne, John has been able to channel his experiences into something that helps others understand their own:
“I’ve actually helped a few of my friends cope with their bullshit. Not necessarily with my music but just with being a good guy and being there for them and being their friend and letting them know ‘You know what man? I have daddy issues too,’ basically. ‘I’ve been through a lot of hard shit and I know how you feel.'”
Beyond being there for those close to him, John hopes to spread a positive message with music as well. You might also know him as JJ The Wicked from San Antonio, Texas. John talks about his goals for the future and says:
I want to get to those shows where I have thousands of heads over there, knowing that they love my music and that I’ve helped thousands of people, millions of people, go through what they’re going through. I want to do a collaboration with Tech. I want to do a show with Tech. I want to open up for him. Stuff like that. That’s my true, true goal. I want to push my music out and change people’s lives.
John is an example of someone who could make it through the darkness in order to bring light to those around him. We commend John and many fans like him that found hope in the darkest of hours, and continue to serve as an example of the power of the human spirit.
LISTEN TO JJ THE WICKED’S “FRAGILE” FREESTYLE
- How did listening to K.O.D. help you deal with your own pain?
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