Through April and May 2015 I lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Most who know me know I’m all into hip hop/rap, love a good freestyle – still saving up to get T.H.U.G L.I.F.E tattooed across my stomach. So lucky star for me, there was a cool shit dive bar two steps from my apartment and on the night we rolled in, they homies was (gangsta talk, ya feel) showcasing a round robin of rappers, mixed and diverse (as in some of them were White … er of Caucasian, Anglo Saxon looking, non-African American, non – ..er … you know ethnic … let’s not do this here, maybe later on another topic) gents … and they had real talent. Small space, big crowd, mega beats, rainbow flashy lights and a screen playing some 70s porn (or porn from when it was the in thing for the chick to have a massive hairy bush).
It kicked off with some of it being great, after some drinks most of it was pure brilliance, at a much later point I saw all of it in 5D (like 3D but looks much closer), and then someone started blowing on an orchestra quality trumpet (was this person a hologram or real, who cares?). I became a witness to exceptional mastery and craft. Pay over a hundred bucks for a rah rah Broadway musical in Manhattan or pay hardly anything to take the grittier road off the sheeple grazing field … I pity the fool in this mad city who doesn’t know how to get get get it …
If you’re reading this right now and you don’t like rap – remain calm and don’t leave. This post isn’t about rap. It’s about relationships and perhaps a little bit more. Am out in Toronto right now and I’ve read some bad press here re Eminem’s song with Rihanna, ‘Love the Way You Lie’. The word is that the song and video clip are evil in glorifying domestic violence and promoting abuse. As though the soul destroying experience of a violent relationship – often arising out of intensely complex emotional politics, internal power struggles & fluctuating dynamics between 2 people can be so easily packaged and summarised as being ‘promoted’. And this is based on little more than 4 minutes of lyrics and images of a man and a woman so entangled in each other that neither seems able to simply leave the self-destructive ruins of their union: ‘Just gonna stand there and watch me burn, but that’s alright because I like the way it hurts. Just gonna stand there and hear me cry, but that’s alright because I love the way you lie…’
Since when are long-term relationships (and even friendships) so one dimensional and simple? He hurts you, you leave. You walk out the door just like that – as though there is no internal dialogue to fight against, no pull of the past – theirs or yours, no fear of surviving without the other person, no having to painfully retreat from co-dependence … This isn’t about whether the person should leave or not, it’s about the fact that in real life it all just isn’t so simple. And that’s all the song really intends to do – be a snapshot of real life – 2 people so entangled in and consumed with each other they just keep on hurting each other around in circles – until one or both of them breaks … If I wanted a clear cut linear moral or instructional message about how to conduct a relationship, I’d find a text book espousing the mechanics of building a manageable partnership or find some 14 chapter self-help manual.
I haven’t been in many relationships. But nor do I live in my own micro-cosmos unscathed from the emotional angst or damage that can characterise even a short period or small part of the most solid relationships around me – if I’m not in one, I’m always the witness of one, in fact I live everyday being the product of one. Listen to the song. This isn’t called glorifying domestic violence – this is called a man lyrically conveying the raw experiences of parts of his life. Music is an artistic expression thru which the artist tells a story. And often as is the achievement of a great artist, his or her story tells wholly or in part the story of somebody else – you, me, that person and the other.
Yeah that’s right – the title to the left is a rap and I rapped it as I typed it. For a girl who grew up in some of the shittiest suburbs of Melbourne (you know, the areas where tracksuit pants are considered as formal evening wear), I was hooked on hip hop and obsessed with rap before my folks got me hooked on rice for breakfast (you’d think we’d be the fattest fucks in the world the way we consume rice – my mum had her first Big Mac with a side of rice all consumed with chinga brand chilli sauce & a pair of chopsticks). I could relate to the themes of the hip hop genre with its talk of struggle and marginalisation. Many Chinese elders in the community I knew also had gold teeth so I felt an affinity with the rap artists as well. And when I think of the home of both hip hop and one of my fave rappers (Biggy Smalls) my thighs vibrate, I go crazy shaky and then I get all warm, sticky and moist (on my forehead) – I hit New York City for the 3rd time a few weeks ago and as usual the summer vibe there was rocking red hot and on smoky fire! I didn’t just walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, baby I was dancing over it doing the ‘runnin’ man’ forwards, backwards and on the side with arms waving. I looked like a smacked up Japanese tourist slash go-go-go dancer on fertile heat. I love you New York! And some fine buff bodied looking brothers of the city walking over that bridge too I found – made me go all warm, sticky and moist (on my forehead).
Just an unanswered question from EmpressEv’s ‘Book of Why?’ that still puzzles me even after my triple visit to the States: Why has a snack food titled ‘Cheesy Nips’ been permitted to continue trade under this particularly ambiguous name? And how has it done so without instigating racial rioting? Because when I think ‘Cheesy Nips’ I don’t think of a conveniently tasty & crunchy snack in a box, I think more of an image of some whacky Asian chick doing the ‘runnin’ man’ dancin’, skippin’ & gyratin’ over the Brooklyn Bridge…..
My favourite song right now is ‘Not Afraid’ by Eminem, I’m a girl who likes her rap but this song is outstanding – it’s standing out because it’s raw and honest and has a killer beat and hook. Eminem is the rapper of the moment right now and his latest work is the sign that you can come back from the dead – more about the rap life to come in other blogs.
In Em’s second verse he says, ‘There’s a game called circle and I don’t know how, I’m way too up to back down’. Of course there’s the tale as old as time, what goes around comes around (fuck with me and you’ll get fucked 14 times back) but I think the ‘game called circle’ means more than that. It means that relationships, friendships, jobs, frictions, fights, mistakes, dramas, pains, demons, shameful moments and all shit moments that you’ve ever had keep on coming back unless you walk away from the drama, shoot and kill (metaphorically) the cause and roots of it. To just think you’re done with it doesn’t mean you’re actually done with it. You either accept someone’s flaws or get them out of your life, you either take up a craft or swallow the office job that doesn’t validate your sacrifices, you either wear your decisions or keep on chasing your parent’s elusive approval, you either leave your partner or keep on having the same scripted fight, you either stop being an easy slut or keep on getting used, you either stop being a criminal drug peddler or end up a prison bitch or your cell mate’s bitch….you get the drift… with all things bad that keep on coming back there’s a game called circle. You just keep on going round and round until you decide not to. Listen to Eminem’s new song, I’m Not Afraid – the man is back: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMoMxPnc_tA