“Roll Up” - Wiz Khalifa (03:48)
from Rolling Papers (2011)
Sometimes a song’s original intention might get completely skewed in the process of what it means to someone. For example, I am completely convinced that Wiz Khalifa’s original thoughts behind “Roll Up” were about courting a girl from a different class status (whatever that may mean these days, particularly to a pot-focused rapper). I will admit, this is not a song I would have seen myself getting into, but as I get older, I am exposing myself to, and enjoying, a lot more variety of music than I previously gave myself a chance to.
Today I am going to tell you a story. A story that is very close to my heart and very important to who I am and how I look at things.
In the spring of 2006, I applied to go back to school after dropping out the year prior. I decided a new campus would be a good idea, giving me a fresh start. My first class on my first day back was a Creative Writing class, that I had no clue would be so vital to my social and personal life for years to come. When I walked in, I surveyed the people in the room, and went to sit next to two people who looked the ‘coolest’. I sat down right beside them, all keen and overexcited, and introduced myself to them. The bespectacled young woman and the surly looking guy both looked at me as if I had a third eye growing out of my teeth and didn’t offer me much of a greeting. Not the response I had hoped for. Based on that greeting, did I have any idea that this thin, angst-seeming young man would go on to become my best friend? If you told me that at the time, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Within months, I learned that this classmate, Giles, had a very smart funny penchant for humorous Star Trek fan fiction hidden behind his once shy demeanor. As we were paired together in an assignment, I got to understand that the cold glare I was faced with the first day of classes was merely a facade, a roll, a mask hiding one of the greatest people I have ever known. In the five years following that initial greeting, I have found someone that I am able to share every aspect of my life with, someone who redefines the word friend, and gives reassurance to me in the face of not being very trusting in my fellow human beings. Giles has saved my ass, made me laugh, given me opportunities, slapped me in the face with harsh truths, made me second-think my own stupidities, and forced me to challenge myself to keep moving in the darkest days when I’ve wanted to just retire completely.
When I was a very young person, my grandfather told me something that I will probably never forget. He told me that in my life I would meet a lot of people, and many of them would prove to be not who I thought they were. But he told me that if I was a very lucky person, and played my cards right, when I die even if I had one friend who I could trust completely, then I was a very lucky man indeed. When I think of my friendship with Giles, I think of this advice, and I really believe it is true. I know that I am not the easiest person to get along with, I am frustrating beyond belief, and that many other people I’ve met don’t click with me for these reasons. But I also know that Giles and I are able to crush all of the bullshit and the things in our way, because I have found a friend I share a mutual love with, and when I am really focusing on the positive things in my life now, I am so fucking thankful and lucky for him.
So maybe “Roll Up” doesn’t exactly mean the same thing to Wiz or to anyone else but me. But when I hear the song, I can’t help but think of my best friend, my bandmate, my confidante, my one-time co-worker and boss. And finding the personal connections in songs that might not otherwise be there for other people is what make it a really great song indeed.
“Whenever you need me
Whenever you want me
You know you can call me
I’ll be there shortly
Don’t care what your friends say
‘Cause they don’t know me
I could be your best friend
And you be my homie.”