My Husband Listens to Rap Music
Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College
My Husband Listens to Rap Music
My husband listens to rap music. My brothers and cousins listen to rap music. I personally despised rap music and the entire lifestyle it represented: the sagging oversized jeans, the large gaudy gold chains, the diamond encrusted dental work, and worst of all, the butchering of our beautifully complicated English language. This hatred included all forms of rap music-past, present, and future.
Naturally, my husband was aware of my feelings about this. So, one hot day last summer, on a drive out of town, my husband asked me to close my eyes and open my ears. That is exactly what he asked me to do-open my ears. So I lay back in the passenger seat and did what he asked. I heard the familiar rhythm of a hard bass-line, the thump-thump, thump-tha-tha-thump beat, immediately rolled my closed eyes, and emotionally began to "check out." My body slumped into a lazy pile of uninterested flesh and boredom. "Please, just listen. Give it a chance," he pleaded. Then, it happened. It was like nothing I had heard before. I was listening to a tragic love story of how a man who lived in the projects fell in love with a "good girl" from his neighborhood. She was unlike everyone else he knew-poised, graceful, intelligent, well spoken, and beautiful. His love for her inspired him to change into a better person. When he finally worked up the nerve to tell her he loved her, she left him. Years passed and he still couldn't stop thinking of her. He decided to stop by her old house and found that she had left a note with her mother to give him if he should ever stop by. The letter simply said, "No one loves you more than me." He didn't know that she had died from complications of HIV contracted through a blood transfusion. She left him because she wanted to spare him from the pain of her impending death. Then, it spoke of the beauty of true love and the heartbreak of loss and death: the moral being never to take loved ones for granted.
The next track played was even more heartbreaking and extremely graphic. It was about a young boy who grew up without a father and with a drug addict for a mother. But she had since changed her ways. He sought fame and money and the kind of attention he never had growing up by becoming a big time drug-dealer. The notorious group he so desperately wanted to become a part of proposed a test for guaranteed membership in their group-to rape and kill a woman. He accepted. He later realized the woman they brutally beat and raped, with her bloody, bruised, and broken body, was his own mother. He then committed suicide. The moral of that rap story is found in the following lines: "And now the devil follows me everywhere that I go / In fact, I'm sure he's standing among one of you at my shows / And every street cypher listening to little thugs flow / He could be standing next to you, and you wouldn't even know / The devil grows inside the hearts of the selfish and wicked / White, brown, yellow and black colors is not restricted / You have a self-destructive destiny when you're inflicted / And you'll be one of God's children that fell from the top / There's no diversity because we're burning in the melting pot / So when the devil wants to dance with you, you better say never / Because the dance with the devil might last you forever."
It felt as if a cover had been lifted from my eyes. Needless to say, I was impressed and shocked. It was not because of the artistic prose and expression but rather the raw exposure to a perspective I had purposely shielded myself from as a blanket attempt to safeguard my sensibilities from the entire stereotypical genre of rap music. However, these lyrics made me feel like I had just watched some kind of uncut documentary. After that moment I was not only completely open to listening to this new intellectual rap music that I never knew existed, but I was actively searching for similar artists. I found out this type of rap music is not considered mainstream and can usually only be found in the "underground rap" circuit.
I realized that my prejudicial attitude toward rap music stems from many different perspectives. The recognition of these errors of my perception has allowed me to expand my frame of reference and re-consider other strong judgments and opinions I have used as a protective fence of self-identification.
Technique, Immortal. "Dance With the Devil." 2001.