I know it’s been some time since I wrote here (…again). It feels as though balance hasn’t been my friend. However, life these past few months, and this week in particular, drew me back to my safe haven of a website just in time to still make a post about the 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop. If anything, the fact that I come here when I lack guidance and sanctity is exactly what Hip-Hop means to me.
Hip-Hop has been my safe space, the thing that keeps me grounded. Although, at times, I stray away from it, it has given me a voice. Often it has given me a sense of identity and an understanding of who I am and what I stand for. It gave me the inspiration for this platform, one of my proudest accomplishments, no matter how long I go without posting. It gave me a community that enriched my life and gave me some beautiful and talented friends. It gave me authentic connections when I met people who felt the exact same obsession with a particular song, especially if it was difficult to justify why. It gave me goosebumps when the lyricism was just that intense. It gave me attitude through a heavy-hitting bass, even if I knew I wasn’t actually that intimidating or fierce. It gave me feelings of love and romance, even if less sentimental words like bitch and fucking were used to do so. It gave me hope during some of the most uncertain moments. And it gave me the feeling that someone finally understood me, even when I could barely understand myself.
Hip-Hop rekindled my relationship with my brother, especially when we felt worlds apart. It brought us back to a place where we could finally feel like we were hearing the same beat or speaking a similar language. It gave me a deeper understanding of who he was and sparked my joy and curiosity to dive further into the culture to level myself even more with him. It gave me a sense of rebellion similar to his when I felt I was the sibling that needed to follow a non-existent rulebook. It gave me the courage to move past what I thought I knew and divulge into a world far beyond my understanding.
Hip-Hop showed me my body in a new light, one that was painted in radiance and sensuality. Growing up with immigrant parents, sex was a bit of a taboo subject despite how progressive my parents were. Hip-Hop was like my sex-ed, teaching me every aspect of it, from the good to the bad to the ugly. Hip-Hop gave me an understanding of female pleasure, especially as badass female rappers took the reigns and created a whole wave of feminism surrounding it. It gave me the acceptance to explore my sexuality and embrace it no matter what my self-discoveries were. It gave me the tools to navigate a culture rooted in casual sex, erasing the shame and stereotypes associated with it while teaching me how to make sure I had control over my desires and what truly satisfied me, even if it was a lack thereof. It gave me what I needed to connect with my body and see the beauty in each and every curve, even if that curve may be six inches wider than it was a year ago. Hip-Hop gave me the ability to see beauty in every body type, in every face, in everything that made me different from the next person.
Hip-Hop taught me that life isn’t always rainbows and sunshine but that my struggles are often minuscule compared to the rest of what’s happening in the world. It gave me so much appreciation for my upbringing and how lucky I was to be raised by two adoring parents that I can confide in about anything to this day. It gave me the understanding that I live in a time of tolerance and progression, even if it may not always feel like it. Although some of the issues we face should have taken place decades ago, we at least have the space to have open dialogues about it, which wasn’t always the case. Rappers and emcees gave us the ability to work through complex subject matters by taking risks and paving the way when these topics were less widely publicized. It gave me the focus I needed to work with the tools I was handed to succeed in every aspect of life and the idea that I control my destiny at the end of the day. If I falter, I have no one to blame but myself.
Hip-Hop illustrated to me just how much mightier the pen is than the sword. I was always excited to hear battle raps and diss tracks, amazed by all of the low blows and insults wrapped neatly into lyrical packages that flowed so incredibly. That idea of using your words as your weapon gave me the courage to utilize my cunning diction and showed me just how imperative communication can be in getting what you deserve. When I felt helpless, just as we see through so many of these blog posts, Hip-Hop gave me the concept of using words to paint a story. It gave me the inspiration to fight my battles through this website, conveying my struggles and negative experiences through witty and somewhat irritating banter. But also, it gave me the outlook of using writing as a method of therapy, with, unfortunately, all of you being subjected to the role of my therapists. It gave me the courage to share my experiences, no matter how scared I was of all of you receiving them. It gave me the strength to use my writing to fight for what I stood for. Overall, it gave me my love for writing.
And lastly, Hip-Hop exhibited just how beautiful life can be. The samples and instrumentals gave me a sense of nostalgia, sentiments of a world I was present in but too young to quite understand. It gave me a sense of honor and excitement when I saw my favorite artists recognize one another, demonstrating how much more fun life can be when collaborating with like-minded individuals rather than attempting to compete with them. It gave me a feeling of humility when I experienced how Hip-Hop culture could present itself in various art forms we see in everyday life, overwhelmed by the talent in the world. Even to this day, Hip-Hop gives me butterflies when I hear a song that can transport me just about anywhere; to a different era, or like I just traveled to another city, or perhaps a deserted oasis with a special someone. Hip-Hop gives me exactly what I need even when I don’t know what that may be; sometimes, it keeps me rooted and aware, while other times, it rescues me from my hurdles. I’m eternally grateful for all of the things Hip-Hop has given me. I don’t know what I would be like without it.