Corey and I went to a hip hop show this past Sunday (again at the Burro Bar- what can I say, I find something I like and I stick with it), a show that I have been VERY excited about for a couple of weeks...but I came out of the show with mixed feelings and face full of drunken tear tracks.
So what happened? Well...
So this rapper that we went to see is named One Be Lo. He is legendary on the underground hip hop circuit, for his own soulfully intellectual tracks as well as from his foundations as one half of the classic hip hop duo Binary Star.
Now I am in love with One Be Lo's style. I've written briefly about him in the past on this blog, and he has been in constant circulation on my summer soundtrack. When I saw in a local paper that he was coming, I literally squealed out loud with joy. And, well, that's part of the problem. But- let me not get sidetracked.
So, Corey and I get to the show and watch as the people pile in. We play some pool, drink some beer. I see One Be Lo sitting by himself while the opening acts are playing, so I decide to go over and say hello to him. I offer to buy him a drink, and tell him how much I love his music and that I just bought his new mixtape and can't wait to dig deep into it. He was really nice, and seemed like he appreciated my coming over to talk to him, so I asked him if he was planning on playing E.T. (my favorite song). He said he actually was, and then I told him it was my favorite, and he thanked me, yadda yadda I go back and sit down.
I went back to Corey in a fit of absolute fangirl glee. I just talked to one of my hip hop heroes! But, I couldn't keep that two-beers-in doubt from creeping up. I happen to know that One Be Lo is Islamic, and therefore doesn't drink or anything like that. I wondered if he could smell the beer on my breath, did it upset him? Did it upset him that I (a little white girl wearing short shorts) was the only one to come up to him? I totally said the name of the mixtape wrong, didn't I...oh well. I mean, whenever I start to go through the bad-thoughts cycle, I just have to shut myself off. So, I did, and I enjoyed the rest of the show.
2nd act: Jacksonville artist Arsun Fist
One Be Lo comes on the stage, and just tears it up. His delivery was spot on, he played some of my favorite songs, and I was just enjoying the shit out of myself. I am pretty passionate about life in general, but I am particularly in love with moments like these. A dark bar with colorful lights, a little bit of a buzz, and music that fills up my body and my spirit with the hum of all of humanity. I fucking love it.
One Be Lo in all his blurry glory (Christ I need a new camera)
Finally, One says that this next song is going to be the last. I get all excited because I'm sure that this is going to be it, he's going to play E.T., oh my gosh oh my gosh. Except...the DJ starts the opening bars to E.T., and One Be Lo turns around and makes a motion for him to cut it off...and then he launches into (what I presume is) a freestyle about fruits and vegetables.
What? A freaking freestyle about fruits and vegetables instead of my favorite song, the song I've listened to easily 847 times since March?
Uh...what the ever living crap. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was a REALLY good little bit of acapella rhyme. But Buzzed Keri had turned into Drunk Keri over the course of One's set, and I must say that Drunk Keri has WAY less control over her moods and faculties than Sober Keri...and so the butthurt began. I mean, I was just so disappointed that I temporarily forgot about all of the awesome that was placed in front of me for my consumption, and I also forgot that maybe (just maybe!) in the process of, yknow, getting on stage and putting on a show, that he may have just forgotten. Simple as that, no insult intended. (Sober Keri is currently choosing that line of thought.) Corey, in his concern for me because he knew my feelings were hurt, offered to buy me one of One's CDs and get him to sign it. One was standing by himself by the stage but I didn't even want to go up One again because I was embarrassed by my reaction, so I dipped out and went to the bathroom. When I came back, Corey was standing there holding a CD looking awkward while One had his back turned to him, talking to the two emcees that had performed before One.
(Let me throw out a disclaimer: the feelings I am about to describe should in no way reflect on One Be Lo or any one else at the show. These are my own feelings, caused by deeper rooted issues that I am about to explain, and more than likely these issues are just made up and I'm being a silly head. It is entirely possible, I am silly a lot. Anyway...)
I had a sinking feeling in my gut, that One was ignoring Corey. I went up to Corey and pulled him aside, and just told him I wanted to go. We left, and in the parking lot I exploded into tears.
Let me back up a bit and explain. As a white girl who loves hip hop, I am hyper aware of the stigma in the hip hop community against fans such as myself. Being a white hip hop fan alone is enough cause for some ridicule, or just cause to not be taken seriously. It really sucks. That attitude is all over the place, especially at some of the reddit forums I frequent (r/hiphopheads). Perhaps that forum is why I am so sensitive...heh. Anyhow, Corey had been in the middle of telling One Be Lo all about how he loves the albums he's put out AND the work he did with Binary Star, when the two [black] emcees come up saying how they'd never heard of One before but they loved his set...and One switched all of his attention over to them. So, yeah I was kinda upset.
I was bawling into Corey's chest in the parking lot, half-laughing and half-crying, sobbing "I'll never be black, I'll never be black enough for my favorite artists!" I say I was half-laughing, because I was aware of how ridiculous I sounded and how ridiculous I was being for being upset over something I can't control. I can't control the color of my skin anymore than I can control the kind of music that hits my heart. I spent the rest of this week turning these concepts over in my head, that I'll never be the fan these guys want. It's weird.
THEN. Yesterday. I was reading about this [white] rapper out of Seattle, Macklemore, and decided to download him and give him a listen. I put it on when I got home, and lo and behold the very second song I played was all about this exact same topic. I almost cried listening to it because it so clearly and concisely explains the roiled feelings of inadequacy I was feeling, in the face of helplessness (I can't help that I like what I like). I've gone on to listen to his other stuff and I'm immediately smitten, but I keep coming back to the lyrics of this song.
Appropriate lyrics from White Privilege by Macklemore:
Where's my place in a music that's been taken by my race?
Cultural appropriated by the white face
And we don't want to admit that this is existing-
So scared to acknowledge the benefits of our white privilege..
Cause it's human nature to want to be part of something different
Especially when your ancestors are European Christians
And most whites don't want to acknowledge this is occurring
Cause we got the best deal, the music without the burden.
This song was a much-needed band aid for the confusion and guilt I've been feeling all week.