I was fifteen years old when I heard my first indie rap song, “Three Day Eviction Notice” by 2Mex. At that moment I felt like everything I had listened to prior was pointless. I felt the deep cuts of lost friendships, wronged relationships and family woes. How can one song change the way you feel? How can one song make you feel so at ease, so real? But it did. And it didn’t stop there. Next came Atmosphere, Living Legends, Aceyalone, Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Common and many others. I asked myself, “How can music transcend your way of thinking?” It can and it did. I suffered losses in Hip-Hop, I found faith and I also found love.
I was born into a family of 11 siblings, most of which are ten years older than me. We all emigrated from Mexico to the United States at different times. I was one of the last to arrive. I was 3 years old. California became the only home I knew. I grew up listening to Latin music of all sorts. Most of which I didn’t appreciate. I felt disconnected. I didn’t understand what music was growing up. It wasn’t until I listened to my first hip-hop song that I truly understood what it meant to be connected to sounds and vibrations.
Every time I listen to Kid Cudi I get this feeling of self-awareness. My mind just stops and listens. It evaluates everything in his music and my life. As if in those moments I have clarity of all my wrong doings or my woes. Through his darkness I find light because it reminds me that I am not alone. Listening to “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager” always gets me in some feels that I just cannot begin to describe. I have grown plenty listening to Hip-Hop music. Raps truly helped raise me. Gave me pride yet humbled me at the same time. Taught me to love my peers and stand up for myself.
Seems like nothing can ever go wrong when music is playing. But the truth is that I grew up very influential. I use to love listening to hustle raps. I wanted that to be my reality, I wanted to be just like the dudes making their own way. It quickly went sour for me. One who is quickly influenced should never be around that scene. I thought I could handle myself but soon enough I was using. Now Hip-Hop music was my go to in my substance abuse. Something about being on psychedelics while listening to Boom Bap or Trip-Hop just sets you free. I really didn’t know when to stop. I couldn’t be sober. I was one of those kids you hear about in movies that start smoking weed and later end up doing hard drugs. I was into deep and I didn’t know how to get out.
Wasn’t until I was 20 years old when I met a friend that really helped me get back to my roots. She helped me get sober and in return we shared a bond that could not be severed. She reminded me that music is beautiful and there is no need to be on a substance to enjoy it. She brought me back to when I was fifteen years old listening to 2Mex. I knew what I had to do. I had to become a voice for many kids that substance abuse has silenced. Transcend music into them the way music transcended into me. Hip-Hop gave me an identity. Hip-Hop introduced me to my faith, to God. If it wasn’t for Hip-Hop I wouldn’t be sober right now. I met every important person in my life through Hip-Hop. It was the medium that lead me to my dearest medium, the Messiah.
Hip-Hop is not just noise, it’s a vibration. It’s lyrical poems sped up to the tempo of a song. It’s a culture made up misfits and outcasts. It’s people who express themselves in form of dance. It’s artists who love art. It’s disc jockeys who love watching a crowd react to the records they spin. It’s a culture that has transcended so many genres. A mixture of soul, funk, jazz, rock and reggae. It’s the courage our young ones have to become who they aspire to be. It’s the memory our old folks have when they walk down an old familiar scene. Hip-Hop becomes who you are. It molds you and brings you to a place of tranquility.
Cover photo courtesy of: @hellobalanay via Twenty20