~Sometimes, that’s all it takes to forever alter the course of one’s life.~
“It’s not real.” These are the words that popped into my head outta nowhere as I watched one of the many music videos that were popular during that particular era. It was the late 90’s and I was doing my damnedest to be like all the ghetto-ass kids I was unfortunate enough to share a neighborhood with, listening to the same music as them even though I could clearly see that Hip-Hop and R&B were rapidly losing their diversity, creativity, and energy. It was becoming more about money, hoes, cars, and clothes . . .
I really wasn’t ‘bout that life. I hid my “nerdy” pursuits like reading, anime, writing, and video games. I also kept my actual musical tastes well-hidden. I liked so-called
”white” music like rock, alternative, and pop. I was even getting into “old people music” like soul, Mowtown hits, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye. I was pretty much pretending to be as [willfully] ignorant as everybody else. And I . . .guess it was working. I mean, I had somehow managed to let myself get sucked into the alluring world that these music videos served as windows into.
I began to deeply desire the things I was able to see through that window. I think everyone did. Who wouldn’t? You’d have to be an idiot to turn down . . .
-traveling to exotic locales. In style.
-being in a place where the high-end liquor is always flowin’ so the party just
-being continually in the lap of luxury.
-being constantly surrounded by people who actually like and want to be around you.
It was everything a lonely, teenaged girl who basically had no life could ever dream of.
Before I even realized what was happening, I found myself semi-consciously entertaining the thought that Music Video World actually could actually exist somewhere. I started wondering what its denizens got up to when the cameras stopped rolling. I’d catch myself wondering if, when, and how I would be able to experience at least half of what I would see happen to them when I got to be an adult. “How, oh how in the world would I go about bringing those images on the screen to life?” I often asked myself. I was falling into the mind trap specifically designed for young and impressionable black minds. I was fairly entranced . . .until − “It’s not real!” snapped me right out of all that.
These three little words just popped into my head from absolutely nowhere while I was watching one of the music videos that had taken my whole neighborhood by storm: Noreaga’s Superthug. I think it was the hook that got everybody. But anyway, Superthug was yet another one of those “enhanced (or enchanted) reality” videos I got caught up in. It had everything: exotic locales, fancy liquor, 24/7 partying, attractive people with money, a lavish mansion . . .all in the middle of a dessert. And that beat was bangin’ as hell! Yes, I AM aware of how silly and unrealistic that is. The sudden though of “It’s not real!” provided enough of a shock to snap me ouf of the trance I’d fallen into to see this. And then I started thinking abut what I was looking at. “Hey . . .wait a minute!” I thought. “Why would ANYBODY build such a nice house in the middle of the flippin’ desert?! Who’d even want to live in such a place anyways? And who was around to take such staged shots of a supposedly candid middle-of-the-desert party?” And finally, “Um . . .do black people with money normally throw parties like this?”
This was the moment that helped me realize the world videos like these were trying to sell me on was all smoke and mirrors. It was just as fake as the music representing it. Though my teenaged mind couldn’t fully comprehend the full nature of the manufactured Hip-Hop/R&B world, I knew it was something I wanted no part of.
* * * * *
And now, almost 20 years later I’ve come to a deeper understanding of why these kinds of videos existed and what purpose they were meant to serve. The forces (or people) behind it all were working to bring the fake-ass, rap-music video world to life. Their goal was to create a new and twisted reality for a whole generation of young black people. Just think of a glitzy, glamorous underworld masquerading as a paradise, as THE place to be and THE way to enjoy life. Its citizenry can’t wait to sell their souls for fool’s gold. They worship money, fame, and material excess because their hearts and minds are empty, barren wastelands.
So how would such a reality go from two to three dimensions? Well, remember those impressionable young black minds I was talking about earlier? They absorb everything they see and if they aren’t snapped out of that trance I also talked about in time, they grow up to imitate and emulate everything they saw when they were children. These now grown-ass kids are the ones that bring it to life; it lives through them. It manifests through their mannerisms, attitudes, mentality, world view, how they see themselves and each other . . .I could go on and on.
Don’t believe me? Just go round up a bunch of them, ages 35 and younger, and see how many of them
- Think life is all about money and materialism
- Have no plans, goals, or visions of the future. Or no future at all, really.
- Live for getting #turntup and not much else
- Get angry or draw a complete blank when asked ‘stupid’ questions about what their life’s purpose is
- Pride themselves for their ignorance and see any and all displays of intelligence and/or ambition as ‘acting white’ or selling out. They have no idea that they’re the ones who have really sold out
In the immortal words of Katt Williams: I’ll wait. And God bless you if you can find a handful of young black people who none of this applies to.
* * * * *
Now let’s cut back to my 13 year old self, seconds after the moment that would forever alter the course of my life. That was when the rebellion that would shape the person I am today began. In earnest. From then on, I became a sort of renegade audiophile, listening to everything I could get my hands on that I ‘wasn’t supposed’ to listen to. But that was only just the beginning . . .and only half of the fun . . .