Turn Up the Volume: Why I Love This Song
By: Thomas Rodriguez

(This is the first installment of an ongoing series about songs that I love that you can love too!)

I Wonder
By Kanye West

“You ever wonder what it all really mean?
You ever wonder if you’ll find your dreams?”

     Icy air fills my lungs, burning my neck and traveling to my constantly expanding chest. My legs pound the sidewalk as I run by myself through the “cold” Florida wind (in reality it was only about 65 degrees). As the next song begins to play, I hear a soothing voice and lone piano keys ring through my ears, and I have the goofiest smile on my face. I think to myself “I love this song”.

The song in question is “I Wonder”, by Kanye West, from the album Graduation. To say I “like” this song would be the understatement of the century; I love essentially everything this song has to offer, including the memories it brings me.

Kanye West has always been acknowledged as a master producer and beat maker, especially with samples, and this song is no different. To start, ‘Ye uses a beautiful reuse of the keys and vocals from “My Song” by Labi Siffre, turning up the keys to make the moment when the verse’s beat arrives hit you like a train. Adding a glitchy drum sample from the god-like 2pac’s “Ambitionz Az a Ridah”, Kanye creates a beat that’s smooth as butter but still bangs in the car. If this weren’t enough, Kanye also adds some great synths that just build onto the beat absolutely perfectly, and create a great nocturnal, futuristic feeling. When you hear this, you feel like you’re flying a spaceship on your way to some great destination, somewhere better than the dumpster-fire that we call daily life.

If this literally-perfect beat weren’t enough, Kanye’s vocals and lyrics are equally excellent. His delivery here is simple, yet emotionally powerful. His charisma and force get you to be with him mentally, as you and Kanye explore what dreams really are and if you’ll ever find them. Even his shoutout to all the “ladies in the house without a spouse” is equally hilarious and vivid, as Kanye shows us that he not only wants his dreams, but some women too. And I’m invested in and relate to everything he raps. I want to find my dreams too!

This song also holds a special place in my heart. During the winter of 2015, I began to truly enjoy and analyze music as a medium, not just something to make boring car rides become semi-boring. Many of the artists I had gotten into at this time (namely Kanye West) have still been in heavy rotation in my playlist. And during this time, I was preparing for my first season of school track and field. Music made my late night suffering just a tad less painful, and hearing I Wonder would make things flat out enjoyable. It could make any time enjoyable. And this song, alongside others, made these late night runs flat out fun. Just talking about this song makes me want to listen to it again for the fortieth time. I think I’m gonna go do that.

     In a way, the hook, also sampled from “My Song”, brings the whole idea of this song to the forefront: dreams and happiness.

“And I wonder if you know
What it means to find your dreams”

I don’t know what it means Mr. West, but if I have to listen to this song to find out, I’ll gladly do it!