Monday, April 21, 2008

five confessions of a hip-hop head

i've been checking out mtv(secondary channels) for the last few weeks as this month they've been celebrating the 20th anniversary of yo! mtv raps. saturday morning i was planted on the couch with a basket of recently laundered clothes sprouted between my legs. in between moments of folding clothes i found myself jumping from my seat so i could pop-lock to planet rock or wop to paper thin or just sit there and swallow big daddy kane's godiva goodness while my ears sucked on the hard candy of his cadence, savoring his lemonhead lyrics from sugary surface to sour soul.

now i've been a hip-hop head since the beginning and being from the "bk of the ny" brings with it additional pressure as one is expected to have a certain level of knowledge and taste regarding hip-hop, especially old school hip-hop. as a teenager, i was more sensitive to the unspoken rules of the game. however, now that i'm older, i'm thinking i can pop the top off of the long-held secrets regarding my fandom of hip-hop music. many of the coming revelations will probably shock you, appaul you, perhaps even make you wish for my immediate death. all i ask is that you bear with me as i reveal but a few of the confessions i've been re-visiting lately...

1. i never liked digable planets and especially hated rebirth of slick - cool like dat. the video struck me as so obviously cultivated and packaged like spam being sold at saks. everything was placed 'just so' in order to create this image of 'cool', even down to the riff. it was the equivalent of the "recipe for 'evolved' rap"...

"If one wants a neo (code:pseudo) hip-hop group who will generate lots of buzz for not rapping about gangstas and drinking and partying, here's what you need:"

  1. three rappers who are asthetically pleasing. one must have locs, one must be a female so as not to piss off the women libbers even though she'll be used primarily as a covert sex object, which means she can't wear a bra or be a fat/nasty. one must be just ambiguously sexual to appeal to both sexes (i think butterfly was that too...)

  2. abstract lyrics should be "mystical" (code: nonsensical) enough for folk to exclaim "wow, that was DEEP!" to friends even as they ask themselves"what the fuck do they MEAN?!?"

  3. video should be produced in black and white cuz it's cool when it's in black and white and ANYBODY can do it in color...(wish i knew THAT shit when i was too ashamed to tell my friends my folk and i still had a black and white television during the first george's presidency. could have saved myself a whole lot of grief...)

  4. songs must have a jazz riff cuz jazz is 'thinking man's music' and if we want to at least give the impression we're elevating the masses, we must start with the riff, even if the rap is crap.

as you can see, i just never got into them.

2. 60% of the flow/lyrics in the song self-destruction was garbage.

the three top flows on the joint:

  1. doug e fresh - he stepped out of that wack ass riff and created his own beat, sans music. best thing he could have done, and even though lyrically he wasn't bringing anything new, his flow was number one as far as i'm concerned.

  2. heavy-d - you KNOW lyrically he probably was the tightest cat in the bunch and he's another one who had the smarts to put in his own riff.

  3. mc delight - short yet powerful.

the three weakest flows on the joint:

  1. just-ice - i'm sorry, but whenever i hear his rhyme, punctuated with him talking about "IT'S TIME I RELEASE" i'm thinking dude bout to take a shit. i keep waiting for him to grunt before i hear the sound of something splashing into water.

  2. daddy-o and wise - come on, you plugged your own shit in the rhyme? this is about self-destruction of the black community and all you got is some babble followed by a plug of your song "all that jazz"? tacky bastids...

  3. d-nice - lyrically he was pretty much on time, but do you remember the video? why was he looking into the camera like that? i thought someone had a hand up his ass and was moving his mouth like he was a puppet.

3. when i saw mc serch dissing mc hammer on that 3rd bass song, i wanted to kick his ass.

no, it wasn't because mc serch was a white dude trying to take out a black dude. it was because he thought that by dissing black dude it would somehow make him 'blacker'. i was and am insulted. see, it's shit like this that had bill clinton misunderstanding what 'being black' entailed. he thought it was an address (thanks to dick gregory for that one). someone should have told serch 'being black' ain't a belief either.

4. i always thought doug e fresh was the cutest but i preferred slick rick in bed.

and i know i'm not the only one. doug e fresh might have had the tight hair cut and nice lips, but slick rick had a nastiness about him all the girls wanted to know about. he had that "i'll lick you all over and love it" look in his eyes. you think i'm playin? listen to some of his lyrics. the thing is, he wasn't making sexual promises or anything. however, through his storytelling, you could tell he'd come raw when necessary.

5. rakim is living off of past glory.

yeah, i know this last one is gonna get me killed. so be it. that dude hasn't put out anything relevant in almost twenty years. for real, how long we gonna be like "oh, that next rakim joint is gonna be DA BOMB!"? he's like that old football player who invented the boot-leg pass...significant contribution no doubt, but the invention was fifty years ago and yet we still seeing this cat at conventions collecting checks for the old shit cuz ain't nothing new to report.

aiight, that's all i've got for now. no doubt i'll be hearing cries of outrage now.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

full circle

written in my journal at age 12

"...if he's light-skinned, he must have brown eyes with thick eyelashes, nice lips, and be really, really smart...oh, and his first name must start with a 'k...'"

because you know, i had my idiotic moments...

i don't know what made me look him up.

maybe it was because ever since i'd taken this new job with a university down the street from where we both attended high school, i've been cautiously treading down memory lane, my adult's insight the light guiding me through the morass of my adolescent past.

maybe it was because my brother and i had just discussed him maybe a week beforehand while reminiscing about all of the "yella" boys i crushed on in elementary school. (turns out every last 'boyfriend' i had from that era was some varying shade of either 'yella' or 'durty red').

maybe it was because i was sitting in my apartment last week asking myself if the ties had been permanently severed between me and the people who populated my 'wonder years'.

i really have no idea.

all i know is that i was sitting there on a networking site typing his name into the "search" field with that "i wonder what he's up to" inquiry cascading from a suddenly active volcano of curiosity. when his vital stats popped up on the screen i blinked in shock and stared. in fact, i was sitting there for about thirty seconds, the sentence "no friggin way...NO FRIGGIN WAY!" whispered in pubescent giggles through my mind over and over again.

i actually felt kinda foolish. i mean really...i'm on the other side of thirty and i'm sitting here at my desk at work damn near squealing because i'd found the guy i dated for all of a few weeks back in elementary school.

thing is, this was no ordinary joe. no, this is the guy i sighed over in elementary school, asked about through high school and not quite so nonchalantly inquired about during college. he was the guy i wrote about years later as an adult from memories held intact like dried flowers pressed within the pages of my mind.

he was the prototype against whom all future 'yella brothas' were measured.

now don't get it twisted...i wasn't sitting by the phone waiting for him to call me for decades or anything sad as all that (although when we broke up i swore i'd never get over him with all the melodrama a nine year old could drum up). i actually dated guys all colors of the spectrum from "midnight hued" to "when he gets cold his skin turns blue hued" and i've fucked my share of the male population of the eastern coast of the united states of america. however, when it's all said and done, the brothas just the right shade of sun-soaked saharan sand always made my heart trip just a bit more than the others and it truly began with this cat. it's as if i saw a little bit of him in every last one of the subsequent ones. i guess that's what comes from the first love that didn't occur from afar.

did that make me biased? shit, who really cares?!?

anywho, my breath was squeezing through my lips in a nervous whistle when i clicked "send" and sent him a request for me to add him to my list of contacts. i got mad with myself then. shit, i haven't seen this cat in over twenty years. in twenty years i'd been through all kinds of shit...rape, college, abortion, miscarriage, marriage, other words i'd lived a life and then some, so why the fuck was i sitting here getting all nervous/giddy about it?

i think there's still a little of that adolescent girl residing inside of me...

the one who checked her breath to make sure it didn't stink before she talked to someone

who checked the mirror to make sure her glasses weren't crooked

who slathered her lips with petroleum jelly so her lips never looked dry and cracked (although they did look like hamhocks drowning in their own lard, but i digress)

the one whose smiles were crooked and covert, timid glee leaking from lips only after a pointed joke punctured her insecurity

her laughter was silent because she was afraid she was laughing inappropriately and she thought the sound of her unbridled glee was too uncouth for the environ outside of her bedroom...

when i look in the mirror these days i almost forget that little girl, but whenever i step back into the time when she made up most of me, i have to stop myself from outwardly cringing. it's almost as if all of those emotions were shallowly buried, easily exposed with the lightest of tread across their surfaces.

so what made me look him up when he comes directly from that time i try not to think about?

in the end, i think it's cuz my mind just got tired of running away from that era. it saw that the past wasn't as traumatizing as it intially believed it to be and perhaps i wasn't the only one who thought her childhood was a time for constant discomfort within her skin.

maybe it's cuz now i'm old enough to realize and appreciate that little girl for who she was and how she contributed to who i am...

the woman willing to voice her opinion even when it's unpopular

the woman who is pretty damn comfortable with doing and being on her own and not 'waiting' for someone before she can 'live her life'

the woman willing to try new things and not censor her movements because it's not in line with 'the image she's supposed to project at this stage in her life'

the woman who pulls the scabs of her vulerabilities from her spirit and doesn't hesitate even though she knows that by doing so she'll be exposing herself to the infection of sometimes painful self-reflection

the woman who laughs long and loud and with genuine joy

the woman who makes damn sure she practices good dental hygiene and carries a tube of chapstick on her at all times cuz one just never knows...

so after the talk with myself, reminding myself that all pieces of my past created the finished puzzle of this singular person i am now, i calmed my ass down.

i mean, he's just a regular brotha, shit.

written in my blog on april 16, 2008

" he actually said i was smoking hot! i think my face is gonna crack from this big ass grin on it..."

because evidently idiotic moments have no age limitations...