The new year is an ideal occasion for reviewing the marked-up calendar pages that have fallen to the floor. So on New Year's Eve, Dallas rapper Bobby Sessions took to Instagram to proudly recount some professional highlights of the previous 12 months.
Few other artists from North Texas, regardless of genre, would've been able to fill up an IG post with the sort of sterling bullet points Sessions was able to on that night: a recording contract with an iconic record label, a pair of rightfully praised EPs, a high-profile tour and the centerpiece track for The Hate U Give, one of the year's best-reviewed films.
It's a résumé worthy of admiration. But for Sessions, who performs at Trees this weekend, it's the accomplishment listed near the bottom of the post that's likely the most prideworthy jewel of note.
"My last day at my 9-5 job was 4 years ago. (12/31/14)"
The decision to rid himself of the confines a full-time job to wholly pursue his artistic vision afforded Sessions freedom he has found invaluable. The idea of freedom is a connective thread running through much of the superb pair of collections he released last year, RVLTN (Chapter 1): The Divided States of AmeriKKKa, and RVLTN (Chapter 2): The Art of Resistance, a six-track collection that came out in November and solidified the notion of Sessions as a fiery, thoughtful voice of art, reason, justice and most of all, freedom.
In the video for "Material Lies," Sessions raps and dances around a spacious mansion and a fancy car, only to reveal at the end it was all a sham. Listing the cost of the stylist, liquor, the rental of the house, and even the dogs he played with in the clip, Sessions blew the lid off the status-chasing nature of the social-media age.
The song, and its meaning, is only fully realized when Sessions calmly says at the end, "You can't buy freedom." It's a sentiment he revisits in the next song, "Gold Shackles," by spitting "Don't speak it if you ain't got it." Simply put, sometimes freedom is a choice to be authentic, regardless of whether the truth has a sparkle to it.
Much of RVLTN (Chapter 1) was devoted to anger revolving around the history of police brutality toward African-Americans, and that racially charged topic isn't absent on RVLTN (Chapter 2). The urgency and force displayed on both of the 2018 EPs shows Sessions is nothing if not a man on a mission.
On RVLTN (Chapter 2), in the album-closing "Lights," backed by bold, jazz-inflected beats, Sessions details the sort of traffic stop that is likely routine for a Caucasian, but may not be for someone who looks like him. As the track grooves to a close, Sessions channels the casually confident cadence of a minister.
"We say black lives matter, you say blue lives matter," he says. The lyrics are a perfect set-up for the argument for freedom he makes by then rapping, "I'm sure that job to serve and protect the community means a lot to your family. But my skin color, that's not a job I can clock out from, or a career I can retire from. It's me every day, 24-7."
Of the lessons 2018 taught us, freedom not being free to all is certainly one of the more profound ones. But Bobby Sessions is here to show us that the path to freedom can be paved with truth and authenticity.
Bobby Sessions performs Jan. 11 at 8 p.m. at Trees, 2709 Elm St., Dallas. $11-$16. treesdallas.com.