Behind the Scenes – The Lost Star

Earlier this year I created The Lost Star, a series of written raps that, together, tell an overarching story about a girl and her time in university (including her struggles with her identity, depression and more).

The Lost Star was inspired by my time in university. The experience was overwhelming to me because I was dealing with a plethora of things I had never dealt with before - living on my own, living in a new city, having to decide what I wanted to do with my life, etc. This inspired the themes of the project, including her questioning her future, the sense of isolation, the town's culture and more.

The project started at random - at 6am one night, I was procrastinating an assignment and needed some way to vent. Having recently got into writing raps through some joke pieces with friends, I felt that would be a solid way of doing it and started writing a piece called "Insomniac". This later evolved into "Enigmas of the Night", the fourth piece of the project. I enjoyed writing this and, after some friends enjoyed the pieces I sent them, I realised I wanted to expand on the idea. I ultimately surmised The Lost Star, a "written album" telling a story over the course of six written rap pieces.

So, let's look at the narrative. I took a very literary approach to this project, including techniques like overarching themes and, perhaps most notably, character development. The first verse of the first piece (“The Lost Star”) chronicles her thoughts upon arriving in the new city, including her optimism for what the future holds for her and the general hopes she has for university. This verse was inspired by the 2012 video game, Gravity Rush, a game where you play as someone who wakes up with amnesia in an unfamiliar world and with unexplainable superpowers, that protagonist essentially being in the same position as the The Lost Star protagonist in regards to location, situation, but also optimism and, on paper, a really promising future despite some natural doubts.

However, the verse is cut off by a bridge expressing her doubts, signifying the change into a much darker section tonally. The second verse is where I chronicle the reality of the situation, where everything is nothing like she imagined and where she can see herself slipping further and further from happiness. I detail a plethora of her thoughts here, including her loneliness, stress, as well as concerns about her future creatively (all recurring themes of the project). Her self destructive lifestyle is also detailed here.

This is followed by “This Town”, which sets the scene for the project by detailing what the new city is like. This is inspired by the town centre of Swansea, Wales. During my time in university, I'd go into the city centre for food at around 8pm, a time where the streets were dark, empty and occupied only by homeless people, gangs of rebellious teenagers, lowlifes and fuck knows what else. As such, this piece is essentially chronicling everything I saw on these late evening walks, mixed with the numerous insecurities and negative thoughts the protagonist is having about herself as she walks through this uninviting landscape alone.

This leads into "Vice World" and "Enigmas of the Night", pieces that delve deeper into this town's culture. Specifically I look at what I label the “enigmas of the night”, which I split into two types of people - the type who stay up all night partying and drinking, and the type that stay up all night dwelling on their insecurities in solitude. "Vice World" explores the former, looking at people who party all night fronting that they're having fun, but in fact are trying to distract themselves from their own shallowness and drowning their sorrows with vices. This was inspired by The Weeknd’s music, because a lot of his songs explore similar concepts - I even listened to his mixtapes House of Balloons and Echoes of Silence before writing this to fully immerse myself in the vibe I was going for.

This also explores the social element of it, including the concept of peer pressure. I've never drank, smoked or done drugs in my life, so I have an external perspective on the culture that I felt would be unique and interesting to explore as part of the character. This piece chronicles her contemplating whether she should succumb to it so she can finally have the social acceptance she's dying for. She also considers the pros and cons, as well as the cons of having that lifestyle compared to the self destructive lifestyle she's currently living (the line “physical or mental anguish, which is the harder pill to swallow?” sums up this conflict in a nutshell).

"Vice World" is also a pivotal piece in The Lost Star’s narrative because it signifies the first major moment of character development the protagonist has. Up to this point the lyrics have been predominantly self loathing, hating herself but at the same time not really thinking on how to fix it - however on this piece she takes a more evaluative approach to herself, beginning to recognise the terrible life she's living and realising that maybe she should do something about it. It's also huge because it's a make or (further) break moment, because if she decides to give in she could go into an even steeper downward spiral.

“Enigmas of the Night” deals with the other “enigma of the night”; the type of person that deals with their mental issues by sinking into a reclusive, antisocial lifestyle. Instead of focusing on the protagonist, this piece focuses on an unknown person (reflecting their state of suffering in the unknown). I draw numerous parallels between both lifestyles, including the different yet similar reliance on distraction via vices, as well as the recluse's desire to be like the party animals because, from the outside, it seems like such a fun lifestyle (these thoughts a parallel to the protagonist's thoughts on "Vice World").

During my time at university, I'd always travel between Swansea (where the university is) and Cardiff (my hometown) on the train to visit family. This inspired "Railroads". "Railroads" is the protagonist at her breaking point, standing at a train station contemplating getting on a random train and going to wherever it takes her to start over. This was inspired by Yelawolf's song, "I See You" and Eminem's verse on B.O.B’s song, "Airplanes Part 2". The piece also covers the thoughts that have driven her to that point, including the concerns about her future, the fact that university life isn't what she expected, the mental health issues her time there has caused, etc.

The final piece, "Vita", details her looking back over her entire life so far, assessing the ups and downs of it before ultimately concluding that, in fact, life is always a roller-coaster, and the fact that her life sucks right now is a natural part of the cycle, as well as why the positive moments are so special. This in turn solves the protagonist’s fear of rejection in favour of sticking with herself, as she realises that things like rejection are an equally pivotal part of life that only serve to help her grow as a person. It helps her gain the perspective on life that she lost in her rut. It also gives the reader a deeper understanding of her world view throughout the project, as many lines are given new meanings now that you understand the character's backstory (hence adding reread value to the project).

So, that's the story of The Lost Star. I had a lot of fun creating something that, to my knowledge, has never been done before, and I'd love to do a sequel in the future continuing the protagonist's story. I hope you enjoyed it.

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