I always wanted to be a rapper. From the moment, I heard Snoop’s menacing, laid-back delivery blend effortlessly with the melodic Dr. Dre beat I knew I wanted to be a part of whatever I heard. I was scared by the graphic reality, but, more importantly, I was intrigued by it, largely because I connected with it deep in my pubescent gut. Their Californian urban squalor looked different from the working class community in which I resided, but the symptoms were the same: gangs, drugs, and this emerging sound known as Hip Hop. Like any 80’s baby who came of age in the 90’s, often cited as the “Golden Age,” I would write rhymes. But I failed at it because what I wrote was insincere. I rapped about what was popular at the time (and still is): easy money, easier women, necessary violence, and a flashy lifestyle. Yet, this seeming disconnect did not break my bond with the music and the message. In fact, I gravitated towards rappers (Biggie was my favorite at the time, replaced by DMX after his tragic death) that shared their personal stories, aside from the typical “I-got-money-hoes-and-clothes” lyrics.
Enter Andre 3000 and his song, “A Day in the Life of Benjamin Andre.” The song, along with the entire Love Below album, inspired me to want to write and produce an autobiographical cd. My rap career was back on track (pun intended). I even asked my producer friend to craft some tracks for me, but he did not pay much attention to my empty request.
Enter September 2012 (Editor’s note: The following is an unpublished post, now with edits):
With little fanfare, I unceremoniously commemorated my third year as a single Black male in New York City. I have spent roughly 1095 days without an “official” girlfriend. While my answer to the frequent question, “Why are you single?” has include answers that insinuate both choice and timing, I decided to create a tracklist of an R&B album (note: I cannot sing to save my life…so it will just be jam packed with lyrics) to best express my time spent single:
The Single Years EP Vol. 1 (Editor’s note: I have split the album, “The Single Years” into a three volumed EP, which I will release separately).
- Three Years of…(intro)-It would a beat, on which I would rhyme (had to sneak some rap in there), with no chorus or hook, straight for about 3-4 minutes. It would really serve as a brain dump of the last three years, describing but not limited to: failed relationships, introspection, sex, parties, and friendships.
- Last Words-This is easily the hardest song to write on this EP. It will serve as an analysis of my last words, “I do want to do this anymore,” which I uttered straightforwardly on the phone to my then girlfriend. It pains me to think about the lack of emotion that I expressed towards her that night, though I was filled with various feelings. Instead of engaging her about my qualms with our relationship, to which I had contributed, I decided to be cold and quickly build a castle, built of stone and mortar, around my heart, vaguely concerned with her feelings, which I just hurt. In the moment, I thought I was doing the best thing for me, protecting myself, but in reality it was the weakest thing that I could have done. It is a decision that I revisit occasionally and for which I have apologized, even though I struggle with forgiving myself.
- LES Dreams-This would be a fun, ironic party record. If one has ever partied in the Lower East Side, one knows that the nights only end when the sun rises. There are countless Friday nights during my singledom that were spent in the cluttered streets of the LES. I went through a phrase where I attempted to drink my sorrows away and hide them in clubs and lounges, populated with others doing the same. Very few people were actually happy in those locations. The second word, “Dreams,” explains how those sleepless nights felt like dreams, unreal. Yet, I kept dreaming…forcefully.
- Reluctant (skit)-This track would be a contrived, taped conversation between a woman and myself, in which I share with her that I do not want to be in a relationship with her, even though things are going well. Unfortunately, I have had to have this conversation a few times. The only way I can even begin to make sense of them is it demonstrates my reluctance to open up and share myself in the same way that I unconsciously and consciously asked women in my life to do.
- Cliche but It’s Me-The previous track flows into this song, in which I lament the fact the all my previous failed relationships contain one commonality, me. I have dated (not sure what the semantics of those relationships, but for the sake of this blog, we’ll just say dating) a few phenomenal women and yet none of those relationships worked…because of me. Though it is a cliche line, I truly believe that I am responsible for my part in those relationships not working.
Editor’s note: This post was difficult to write, yet feels necessary for my future.
Volume two…coming soon.