Outkast's "Aquemini": A Meditation on Death
Even the Sun Goes Down
Once upon a time, there was a man who died. Most stories can be distilled to this, I know from experience this fact can be intensely terrifying- but liberation often is. Death as a concept informs our subconscious to an almost absurd amount, this is probably why "Aquemini" (the album and the song, but this article will focus on the latter) resonates with me so deeply. "Aquemini" delves into the depths of death in a way only music can, so much so that I honestly think the song comforts me on a genetic level.
“Not what we have, but what we enjoy constitute our abundance.” Epicurus
I always find- perhaps selfishly- that the philosophical arguments that interest me are those that deal with happiness. It is always fun to argue if people are intrinsically good or evil, but I always head back to the hedonists like some sort of existentialist prodigal son.
Here I must quickly clarify what I mean by hedonism. Hedonism is not an excuse for elaborate acts of debauchery- as fun as those are. Hedonism is a philosophy centred on what it means to be happy. It is a flirtatious invitation to find pleasure in the face of death, or in fact in spite of it.
"Aquemini" embodies hedonism in its most beautifully seductive essence. Big Boi and Andre paint a picture of the south with violence, danger and death lurking seedily in every corner. Exempting no one, reminding us through their lullaby of pain and suffering, that death does not choose sides- if even the sun goes down, the so do children. The concept is brutal, however- in a way only Outkast could pull off- also comforting. Outkast dishes out a flow so lucid it resembles a bedside story eased down by hot chocolate.
Western philosophy has a terrible habit of alienation. Building a wall of confusingly named manifestos to shield themselves from the public- possibly to keep the prestige of the title philosopher, or possibly just cause they are shy. This does not help anyone.
"Aquemini" uses a tool most religions have recognised for years- repetition. Fittingly the song itself is dripping in religious undertones, people being the flawed beings that we are, tend to forget. Things of importance slip through the cracks of our consciousness, into the depths of our subconscious never to be seen again- like convict music- unless repeated. So, what does Outkast find worthy of repeating ever so soothingly- everyone dies, but life is worth living anyway.
Heroes Eventually Die
Until They Close the Curtain.
“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.” Soren Kierkgaard.
Even the sun goes down. The point of "Aquemini"—-and as always, by extension this article—is to remind the listeners of the fantastically absurd reality of existence. The most beautiful, extravagant, awe inspiring things in life, will ultimately end. Heroes eventually die, and this is ok. "Aquemini" offers us an unapologetic meditation on this- even complete with its own Mantra- to ultimately off us acceptance. Death is inevitable but life and happiness is not, they must be seized- at least until they close the curtain.
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© 2017 Iyunoluwanimi Yemi-Shodimu