I have listened to rap music all of my life and my goodness I have gone through some stages. From the catchy Kurtis Blow style era to the more lyrical Big Daddy Kane and Scarface/Geto Boys flow in my pre-pubescent years to middle school when it was all about west coast rap (shout out to my sister, I stole her Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle tape in 8<sup>th</sup> grade). Then high school came and I became addicted to wu-tang (once again thanks to my sister, who is six years older than me) and whatever other music my boys said was popular. Basically all southern rap, Outkast, No Limit, and later Cash Money. Also Biggie & all of Bad Boy, Bone thugs and harmony, etc. etc. etc. Then there were my “original” college years and I listened to whoever the radio played…yes, this includes Nelly and also being in North Carolina and attending NC State I fell in love with a rap group called Little Brother. Thanks to Napster my music tastes broadened more and it culminated with my introduction to Kanye West around 2001 and now I’m basically on this whole “too much music coming out and I can’t keep up with all these dudes” stage. I hear people argue that that the music was better back then but I disagree. I just feel like I was younger and I could relate a little more or maybe I had less on my mind back then. Seriously, I listen to old lyrics sometimes and I wonder what in the hell was I thinking? Rap music much like movies, TV shows, books, cover almost every aspect of life. The good, bad and the ugly. I also like to say that almost all rappers are actors. Let’s take Tupac for example, that man used to be a backup dancer wasn’t anything thug life about him. However, the media and great marketing portrayed him as such. While he attempted to distance himself or at least give a better explanation of what “thug life” meant to him, during those final years as a death row artist that was basically how he was portrayed. One of the more recent examples of acting has to be the bald, big-bellied, bearded rapper, Rick Ross. A former corrections officer who became a rapper and not only stole a well-known drug dealers name but rapped as if he lived that lifestyle. Despite being exposed as a fraud he has been very successful as a rapper. Personally, as a working adult, I understand being fake or acting in order to make money. I can’t be myself all the time in my current occupation and expect to keep a job. I can’t rock ballin shorts and not shave, and be anti-social and associate with people I have nothing in common with, etc. You have to do whatever it takes to make that money. On the flipside, the people who are really “about that life” don’t broadcast it. However, there are always a few rappers who are not frauds in the least bit.
As crazy as it sounds when you lose so many people close to you sometimes you kind of forget about them. In the process of living, I have always tried not to dwell on those that I lost because when I do that I tend to neglect the one’s who are here and it also puts me in a very dark place. When I saw my cousin’s mother post this on facebook I thought to myself wow has it been that long? Six years ago my little cousin was murdered. I remember hearing on a “Brian got shot” and some days later “Brian is dead”. At that stage of my life I was so used to hearing the bad news I was like ok. I had lost another cousin to violence a few years earlier and I was just at a point where you hear so much bad news that you get numb to it. At the time of his death Brian was 21 years old and if I’m not mistaken was in the navy. I wasn’t as close to him then as I was when he was younger. One of my many regrets because unfortunately, I was in a space where my only concern was me. I deeply regret it now looking back at how things happened. It’s weird because in my eyes he was just always my little cousin. Adult or not that is how I viewed him. I watched him grow up and like most young men he went through some rough times but it seemed as if he was back on track. He was no angel and while there are more details on what happened and the circumstances around his murder I will not go into them. I will just say that no one deserves to be killed at age 21…or any age for that matter. As I read the article I listened to and read the lyrics. My first thought was this dude is trash (don’t judge me) then it hit me like “wow, this dude just described how he murdered my cousin”. I listened to it a few more times and for whatever reason, the thought of real rappers and music popped in my head. The same music and lifestyle I glorified once in my life are now hitting close to home. I have rapped lyrics from other rappers stating how they killed someone and I have talked shit about rappers who weren’t “real”. So basically this dude that killed my cousin is what I supposedly want in a rapper. You know the saying, “nobody cares until it happens to them”. I will admit that it felt like a punch to the gut, or maybe even lower. So what am I going to do now? Denounce all rap music? Nah because that would just be stupid. In order to denounce rap, I would have to stop watching tv, movies, books and anything else that promotes violence or has possibly motivated someone to do something harmful to another person. In this case, it looks like the ignorance of one may finally lead to justice in the death of my cousin. The hearing starts today and sitting here I can’t really imagine what it would be like to bury my child and to make matters worse be in the same courtroom as the person responsible for his death. My prayers definitely go out to his mother as she goes through what must be one of the hardest things for someone to go through. My prayers also go out to his family and his son during this difficult time. Rest in peace Brian I am slowly losing my train of thought so that means it is time to wrap this up. Just wanted to vent a little and also throw a jab or two at me for being so damn contradicting. I guess from now on I won’t be so quick to bash a rapper for being fake, hell I am sure I will applaud him. With that in mind, how is that Drake album?