Sometimes home feels like anything but. Just ask Chicago-born, Madison-raised rapper F.Stokes. Better yet, listen to his new track "Madison West High School" -- its ties to Madison aren't crystal clear, but its chilling themes may seem familiar. Change a few details, and Stokes' tale could be yours. It's not hard to imagine.
Hypocrisy surrounds the song's protagonist. His blood boils as he describes a sin-wracked preacher. You may not know this villain, but his kind is everywhere -- Wall Street, the Capitol, the newspaper headlines. A dark shadow creeps closer every day.
"Days like this, I wanna take my visa and only come back when it's necessary," Stokes raps. He sounds wise, even brave. He's not gonna take it anymore.
Voices croon in the background. You nod in solidarity. When Madison seems hijacked by strangers -- the right wing, the chain stores -- you joke about moving abroad. Canada's got universal health care. The economy doesn't suck in China. The grass must be greener elsewhere.
Our hero flies to London, but there's no grass, only concrete. He's lonely, desperate and haunted by the places he's left behind.
He remembers Chicago. His sister was shot there. His best friend was killed for crack there. It's more of a wound than a city, yet he can't turn his back on it.
"Everything I am is everything I saw," he says.
He must find a way to stop dwelling on the past -- to move beyond it instead. He can't swim, he notes, but he can fly. It's all a matter of approach.
F.Stokes performs at the Frequency tonight at 8 p.m.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.