I found a shirt online that I must have. It’s a simple black tee with the phrase “I Only Rap Caucasianally” printed on it in bold white letters. Yep, that’s me (no, not the bold, white part). I actually fancy myself quite the lyrical gangster. I can spit a rhyme like nobody’s business.
OK, well … maybe not, but what I mean is, I like to sing along to old-school rap artists like Salt-n-Peppa and Snoop Dogg while I drive around in my car (which is not, as of yet, a tricked-out Bentley). I personally find my talent to be quite impressive. Unfortunately, the rest of the world would likely concur that I’m too old, too female, and maybe a little too “Caucasian” to fulfill my life-long dream of becoming a hip-hop star. So … here I sit at the Havre Daily News, stifling my urge to get funky on the mic like an old batch of collard greens; and accepting the fact, that I am not now, nor have I ever been a young black man from the streets of Compton.
I am, by my very nature, a writer. I have enjoyed the English language in its many forms since I first learned to read and write. I thoroughly appreciate the sound of a well-written stanza; the emotion evoked by a Shakespearean sonnet. I also happen to enjoy the genius that is Dr. Dre. There is something to be said about a clever rhyme scheme coupled with a good, solid beat. Whenever my creativity needs a boost, music in all its forms always seems to find a way to coax my mischievous muse from her phantom zone, back into the Metropolis of my brain. For that reason alone, music makes me smile (as do Superman references apparently …).
In my mind, quality hip-hop artists are nothing but modern-day poets. While rap often gets a bad name because of its lyrical content or an artist’s attitude or police record, there are a number of artists out there with legitimate talent. Like all forms of art, hip-hop exists for a purpose and appeals to some people more than others. It’s funny how good music can transcend age, race, gender and culture. Other times, it can be quite divisive. Say aloud the name of, for instance, Justin Bieber — and listen to the arguments that ensue.
I wonder if most musical artists have a specific audience in mind when they create a song. I’m sure the record companies and marketing managers do. I wrote in a previous article about listening to country music, and how it brought out the sentimental side of me. I think hip-hop brings out the feistier, sassier Crystal, and she’s cool too. That’s the thing about music — there really is something for everyone — and for every side of our personality. For the most part, everyone’s life has a soundtrack. Often a familiar tune is linked to some inescapable memory. Music is a form of both entertainment and communication that has stood the test of time. It is constantly being reinvented and is enjoyed universally.
So, maybe Snoop Dogg didn’t bank on a 30-something mother of two still belting out the unsavory lyrics of a song like “Gin and Juice,” 20 years after he laid the track. But, being a lover of words leaves me no choice but to be a lover of music in general. Can I help it that I happen to have an ear for a genre that doesn’t necessarily match my image?! Even when we don’t agree on a specific type or form, we can all agree that music evokes a little bit of magic — maybe even enough to turn me into a hard-partying homeboy someday … and if not, well, I’m definitely going to buy that shirt.
(Crystal Faldalen is a freelance writer. She is a former reporter and current classified manager for the Havre Daily News.)