“Got money. And you know it. Take it out your pocket and show it then throw it.” had been blasting on my headphones every day to school and back. I loved the rap life. Those rappers had it all. Everything they did and said sounded so swag, you know that they turn heads kinda swag? Yeah, that. I had my hoody on, spat some killer lyrics sometimes, and went out and bought every single one of my favorite rapper’s albums. I was dazzled by the rap lifestyle and I wanted to be just like him. I had him pasted inside my cupboard, his shiny grill beaming at me every time I opened it. I even wrote to him while he was in prison. If you had told me that there was a bigger fan of him on this earth other than me, I would have fought you. So, what happened?
As I grew up, I just started thinking. And the more I started thinking about what all these musicians stood for, I started losing interest. I found myself moving from modern rap and hip-hop to the old underground stuff which seemed to have more substance and covered real, important issues like standing against violence, the importance of life, saying no to racism, and keeping the brotherhood. After that, when I began to understand that it wasn’t good for me in any shape, I gradually weaned off music completely and my mp3 days are now long gone!
So here are the top 5 reasons my favorite rapper helped me quit music:
1) Everything was about him. All day, everyday:
You know how you have that one friend who seems to think the world revolves around them? Yup, this was that but 10 times worse. Half of the song was about how awesome he is, how he’s so rich that he’s showering in money, and how he’s the only one that has got all the cars and girls. After a while, it just gets boring. If we had a friend who talked like this in real life, we would run the other way. As Bruce Lee said: “Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory.”
2) Money, money, money:
If all his songs had one thing in common, it was money. He was always going on about the paper he makes as he walked around throwing them out his pocket. I had grown up knowing that money wasn’t everything. While money is important to live and survive well in this world, I understood that it wasn’t what defined a life well-lived. I knew I couldn’t take my money to the grave. Faith, real contentment, health, family, and meaning in life weighed far more to me than any bar of gold.
3) He talked about me and my sisters:
Wait, what do you mean? Well, yes, he talked about me and you, sister. It’s surprising isn’t it that even in 2020 the most listened to songs are about our bodies. Once I paused to really listen to the lyrics, I realized that he was addressing women by the most derogatory terms. To him, we were merely sexual beings only present to satisfy him and his likes. I couldn’t bring myself to hear him degrade me and my sisters any longer. And to my brothers, I’m sure this is not what you want for the womenfolk of this world! How can you listen to this kind of stuff and look your mother and sisters in the eye?
4) The weed and the booze:
You know how we just sing out loud: “Bottoms up”, “Don’t stop, make it pop” and all that? I know, I know. You’re rolling your eyes at me, saying “We don’t mean anything by it!” Ok, but if we really want to protect ourselves, our friends, and our families from going down this dark path, shouldn’t we be putting our foot down to stop the promotion and glamorization of this culture? How many young ones, family, and friends have we lost to this? Alcohol and drugs destroy lives. I knew that if I really wanted to make a difference, I had to start with myself. And that is why I bid my favorite rapper and his weed goodbye.
Have you ever stood in the middle of a large crowd with music blaring and everyone dancing and suddenly, you feel numb? Everyone is smiling and having the time of their life. You too are smiling, but you feel deeply unhappy. You’re surrounded by people, yet you feel lonely. The emptiness suddenly washes down on you and you feel like you don’t know who you are at that moment. It was at times like these that I realized that life isn’t a party. Sure, I can drown out the emptiness by these meaningless songs and dance away, but my heart was not at ease. I can keep ignoring the emptiness in the name of “It’s only one life to live!”, but then what? There has to be more!
Sometimes you have to grow up to understand things. I started to understand that while I call for human rights, I also need to say no to songs encouraging gun violence and the taking of innocent lives. While I advocate for women’s rights, I can’t be singing along to words that are sexualizing me and my sisters. While I’m looking for real contentment, I can’t be dazzled by Mr.Rapper throwing his money around. While I’m working on being a better human-being, I can’t be bragging about myself. And when I’m numb on the inside, partying is only drowning me further. I needed to get my act together and if there’s one good thing that the gangster culture taught me, it was that I can’t be a hypocrite, mate.