When I was four, my dad let me walk in front of him holding the bar on the lawnmower while he cut the front yard of our little house outside Dallas, Texas. I probably begged him for hours, if not days, to let me do this. That night, I went to bed wheezing, unable to take even shallow breaths, and was rushed to the emergency room. I slept in a tent for a hot minute after that and don’t recall it being all that bad (lots of ice cream), I just remember my mom sitting there the whole time. My dad must have felt terrible, but he shouldn’t have, because I was psyched to push that stupid lawnmower—though I definitely abused this trauma as an excuse not to mow the family lawn on many, many subsequent Saturdays. Remember the tent, Dad! Ironically, I ended up being a landscaper about 20 years later for a solid chunk of time, a weird, wandering choice frowned upon by both of my parents, but a choice that taught me a fair share of the lessons that still inform everything I do every day.
That story—how a seemingly trivial parental decision can change a life forever, in both good ways and bad—resonates a lot in this issue. Our two covers feature artists who’ve taken oddly parallel paths to get here. Drake, whose distant father and uncle are professional musicians, has clearly leaned on his mother and grandmother for stability during a rocket rise to near superstardom. Christopher Owens, who along with JR White makes Girls, has a distant father who is an amateur musician, and he clearly owes everything he’s become to his mother’s mistakes. Drake’s and Owens’ trajectories are wildly different, but their origins and destinations appear eerily similar. And each writes songs about loving and dreaming with a similar refreshing honesty, particularly on Girl’s anthemic “Hellhole Ratrace” in which Owens sings I don’t wanna cry my whole life through/ No, I wanna do some laughing too/ So come on, come on, come on, come on, and laugh with me and Drake’s “Successful” with his lyric, In person I am everything and more/ I’m everywhere these other niggas never been before/ But inside I’m treading water steady trying to swim to shore/ I’m on a shopping spree to get whatever is in store. One rising up from the bottomless pits, the other seemingly descending from the stars. Maybe they’ll meet on a future Super Bowl halftime show that I can watch with a child I’ll hopefully have by then and say, “By the way, [child’s name], don’t ever, ever ask Gramps to mow the lawn. He has no idea what