Rap stories

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The year was 1996. There was music leaking out of space underneath my brother’s room. The beat was the first thing that caught my attention. I could feel the rhythm flow smoothly from my brain to my heart. The emotions ranged from anger to sorrow to happiness. How could a beat create something in me that I didn’t know existed. The lyrics were another story. I began to pay attention to this music.  Each artist had a style that was uniquely his. I didn’t have to ask who was rapping on what, the names popped up at some point in the track and after a while I could tell who was about to jump in on the verse by their opening cry.

Nasty Nas, Krs-one the teacher, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, The alpha and omega Rakim, Biggie, Tupac, D.O.C…the list goes on. We all learnt literature in school, those nursery rhymes that meant squat half the time but enticed the mind because of their rhyme scheme. Listening to grown ups take a rhyme scheme and tell a story blew my mind.

My mum would pop Fela every chance she got. I liked his music, I listened to his teachings but everytime I went in I knew I was about to receive a lecture. Rap music was different. The beat would calm your mind and loosen your nerves. You have to be listening to get it or you’ll miss the story. Biggie hops on the track and tells you about an incident with a lady and the cops. Most likely the cops. Listen up close and you’ll hear the humour, the moral of the story. Pac was more aggressive, not anger, something else…Krs-one told it as it was, no gangsta and money metaphors, just the facts. I could go on analysing the different rap styles but that isn’t how it works. It hits everyone differently. It’s kind of like art. We can’t all see the same thing in that painting.

Rap music is the most underrated form of music and the most abused. The new stuff has some good stuff but the stories are less and less. People discriminate against rap music, all they classify it as is guns and rape. Some feel it’s unladylike to listen. It’s more than that. Rap music goes farther back than we give it credit. Roots in eager children and parents gathered around a fire, elders narrating history while the drum beats. The drum beats because it accompanies the story and makes it easier to hear. Drink makes food easier to swallow. The continuous level drumming for suspense, the single hook when the punchline is dropped and that eerie low for warnings and sorrow.

I could go on but I can’t tell you what to feel when a song comes on. The next time, why don’t you stop and listen, let the beat move through you then the words comfort you.

Open Caskets

Image I’ve never understood death. Not the act of dying but the mystery behind it that remains unsolved. I understand why we fear death, the way it sneaks in quietly and steals life. This force that we will never be able to control.

It’s hard to imagine someone dying. If they are strangers it is an easier burden to bear. We shake our heads and move on, murmuring gently about the tragedy that is death. However, when it is someone we know, someone that has touched our lives in one way or another, a blinding pain tears through our heart. It numbs everywhere it touches until you realize the last time you saw their face was the last time.

I was the photographer at my aunt’s burial. She was old and in her culture it was a celebration of life. We wore white and danced to celebrate the passing of this amazing life to a better place. But I saw my other aunt wipe a tear from her eye. I caught her just before she wiped it off and replaced its saltiness with a smile. The tear glistened in the image on my camera just before I deleted it. I had no right to have invaded that private moment.

My mother’s voice trembled as she read a story about her sister. My mother is the strongest woman I know and watching her falter showed me how much of an energy death is. She read funny stories about her sister and the church laughed. It made me sad. Sad that I hadn’t seen this aunty in years and I never asked my mum about her. I couldn’t share in these funny stories about her because I hadn’t been there.

Open caskets. I was the photographer at my aunt’s burial and my camera lay limp on my chest as the casket was opened for inspection. She looked beautiful, at peace. People took pictures with their phones but I couldn’t. I just stood there, watching. There was something wrong with taking a picture here. I felt like I was going to capture the remainder of her life force and it would remain trapped in my camera. I watched as the casket was closed and I was relieved.

I heard my name and jerked back to life. My mum asked if I had taken a picture, I said I hadn’t so they opened the casket. My fingers shook as I tried to focus. The click of my camera was followed closely by the click of a closing casket. I held on to my brother until we got into the car then I broke down.

Once upon a time…

A forlorn tree stood in the middle of the field. Its 6 o’clock shadow reached the fence that guarded it. The fence had once stood as tall as the tree. Now continuously mended, it had lost its grandeur. It cowered under the shadow of its ward. Winter brought a sheet of white rug. Snow graced the leaves of the tree and it was Gandalfed. Fall had missed this tree. All its leaves remained intact except that lone one that floated peacefully unto the ground.

A stone throw away, Ageliah picked up a dead chicken from her farm. She studied the animal before tossing it into the compost heap. It must have been the cold. She trudged back to the barn to restock the heater. It was getting colder and the animals were getting hit hard. She looked towards the driveway as Scott drove in. He would walk straight to the house even though he knew she was down here.

Five years of marriage had dealt them a  bad hand. Scott seemed ready to fold. Her sister would be coming in any moment from now. A friendly face was always welcome on the sorrow that the farm had become. She walked back up to the house. It was Christmas, and all she wanted was for her marriage to get saved.

Hot turkey. The way it should be made. Change is constant and so was Ageliah’s cooking. She set the table slowly, she was waiting. The sound of horning from the driveway brought Scott downstairs. He was ready to play his role. The perfect husband. They both reached for the door and he pulled his hand back like he had been scalded. He looked away and waited for her to open the door.

Menna and Ageliah could have been twins but where Ageliah was pale and timid, Menna was bright and playful. Menna grabbed Scott in a warm embrace and He visibly relaxed. Ageliah felt a little jealous. Menna’s husband Tamuno walked behind his wife carrying luggage. He smiled at Ageliah sheepishly. She rushed forward to help with the boxes and he grabbed her in her own hug. It was welcome. She fought back tears and pushed forward laughter. It was Christmas. Everything would be fine.

Everyone walked into the house. They instinctively moved towards the fire place and it whispered warm kisses over their cold bodies. Ageliah pulled back to carry the boxes upstairs. A Scott she recognized as the man she had married was entertaining their guests. In the distance, another leaf fell. It joined a small bunch that was growing just beneath the tree.

Ageliah noticed Simba had been absent all evening. The golden retriever was a wedding gift from Scott. She went out in search of him. At the barn she was greeted with more dead chickens.  She sighed and walked back to the house to inform Scott. Simba was forgotten.

Scott was discussing politics with Tamuno while Menna had taken over in the kitchen. She smiled as Ageliah entered. Growing up together had given them the privilege of understanding each other. Ageliah informed Menna about the dying chickens and Menna suggested a better look in the morning. Back to setting up the table.

Simba had found the tree. He stopped just short of the fence that guarded it and barked. He barked continuously at the tree until another leaf fell and then howling filled the night. Ageliah heard the howling and remembered Simba. As soon as she was through setting the table, she would go get him. It was too cold for him to be wandering about outside.

Charades is a kiddies game adults love. It takes a connection to be able to discern what your partner is trying to tell you. Ageliah and Scott had lost their connection and this was proven by their constant loss to Menna and Tamuno. Ageliah solved her growing pain with the jug of eggnog she had placed on the table before the game started. Scott was finding it harder to keep up with the pretence. He gave up totally and retired upstairs. Ageliah might have been embarrassed but the eggnog was hitting her in all the right places. She smiled and sank into a chair. Menna and Tamuno tried to cheer her up but noticed she was dozing off.

Tamuno and Menna settled into the chair opposite the fireplace as the fire slowly died. Tamuno got up and walked to the back of the house. Spare wood was usually kept there. If the night was silent. If Simba was not howling so loudly. If the crickets in the fields were not chirping, Tamuno might have heard the leaf fall from the tree. The bunch below the tree had grown enormously. As it fell, it pushed some  of the other leaves aside and remained on top of the bunch. Reigning supreme. It was his heart that gave way. As he leaned to carry the log of wood, something within him burst and all went still. He tried to scream for help but his words cowered in fear of the outside air. His final thought as he fell to the ground was how cold it was out here. So cold.

Menna had fallen asleep waiting for her husband. She woke up with a start and called out to him a few times before going off to search for him. She saw her soul-mate lying there lifeless and ran to resuscitate him. Sometime between CPR and finally realising he was gone, Menna gave up on a life without the man she loved. She hit the ground at the same time with the leaf.

The final log of wood in the fire place fell forward and set off a chain reaction that would have been any arsonist’s dream. The house burnt down while Ageliah and Scott slept peacefully. They would wake up dead.Simba went down with the final leaf and the night was silent. The tree stood tall in the middle of the field.

Connection: disabled

She used to think her mother and her were like salt and water.  Things happen that forge the paths we travel along. Huge walls had been erected that affected everything she did. Her life was lased with teachers telling her they saw more than she put in, friends begging her to talk to them, boyfriends asking her to open up and her mum asking her to connect.

There is safety in a fortress. It protects you from the outside world but it doesn’t save you from yourself. She would lock the giant gate that her heart had become, bend her head and face her demons. These demons didn’t care if she was alone or in the midst of a thousand people. They would always attack. Once or twice she found a stray tear dropping from the pain she couldn’t share.

How many times had she opened her mouth to share a problem and she barely grazed the surface before retreating. With years she began to feel guilty for any bit of herself that was spilled. Passers-by would call out to her from the other side of the fence begging her to let them break it down. She would sit curled up in a corner hiding from the fear of the unknown.

Good fences keep the neighbors out and better fences will drive you mad. Her mother was salt because she connected with everyone so easily. She was sugar because even when she tried to connect, she was left stranded at the bottom, alone.

Pleasure and Pain

He was tired of being sober. His thoughts were slowly driving him insane. Days of living the hell that was the life he had chosen. No. He hadn’t chosen this life. It had been thrust upon him. His responsibility. His curse. The nights were worse. Pain and dissatisfaction hunted his subconscious and turned his dreams into nightmares. Insomnia formed an ally with the pain. Screaming nights. In the silence you hear everything and so much more.

Image

The bottle stood tall and mighty on the edge of the table. It seemed to grow taller as he approached it. One sip would wipe away the sorrow. One sip would drown the tears. He placed a hand on its slender neck and sealed his fate. There would be no turning back now. Just the promises that the bottom held. pleasures untold. 

 

The first sip stung. His mouth cringed from the invasion. He gagged as his mouth fought to kick out the foreign liquid. He fought and won. The liquid burnt a path down his throat and settled in his stomach. The warmth spread upward. The next time he raised the bottle, it was for a gulp. The future looms so menacingly and yet the past holds our fears. He could see his gift at the bottom. The bottle held all its secrets. He would reach the bottom and unlock his happiness.

 

He lay sprawled on the floor. His savior laid beside him. Empty. The ceiling danced to the music of the gods. His eyes refused to keep up. The secret to everything. The secrets of the universe. The secret to his happiness still remained unknown. He turned over to his side and began to cry.

Closure

The silence and I have made up. It no longer screams words of hate at me. It soothes. I strain my ears, searching for even a whisper of lingering despise. None. Quiet. I once said a lot of my inspiration comes from pain. This new state proves me right. I want to lay back and bask in the warmth of my thoughts. My company brings forth ecstasy I have missed for so long.

Screaming.

Moving through a meadow searching for release.

My guardian angel pulls me out and sets me free,

I run back to my prison.

Thoughts of living without it,

haunting my daymares.

Taking over my nightdreams.

How many wishes does my Genie give?

Quiet.

I see redemption,

release is nothing but a word.

I find the meadows.

Closure.

The darkness within

The light hurts your eyes. It’s morning. Your curtains should be drawn, you don’t know how the light is getting in. You try to drag the covers over your eyes and the light pierces through.

Last night was mad real. Tears staining your pillow because of the cruel world. The ones that cause you all your pain. Despising the world gives you a rush. You enjoy the pleasure as hate runs through your veins. Smile as you plot to kill her. Feeling these emotions have placed you as human.

Then you realize you feel nothing. These emotions you have borrowed must be returned. The world has done you no harm because she knows not of your existence. Your little footsteps doing no more than an ant againt a rock. You finally see that the darkness you feel, comes from within.

Status Quo

The screaming night. I have thoughts ravaging my mind all day. Problems and solutions run through my head in a rumble. Usually i play with these thoughts and sometimes I push them to the back of my head. From there they will haunt my dreams but that’s another story. I can see a butterfly fluttering close to my window. Weeks ago I put a sticker close to that spot. My aching head has brought it to life. I ignore this vision and it haunts my peripheral.

Silence screams the loudest. In it I can hear my thoughts loud and clear. They cry for attention. They toss and turn in my head and threaten to break loose. Massacre. I have mastered every emotion but anger. I would trade pain for this. It devours me. The shaking, the lack of control of the situation. The faintness I feel afterwards. Weak. Spent. I move to my laptop. I want to put my anger down with words. I am not signed in on wordpress. As I enter my details and tick remember me. I feel betrayed. Even my computer ignores me. I open up a fresh page. White stares at me and urges me to hit with all I’ve got. I set my hands over my keyboard. Writer’s block.

One on one

She floats into the room. A little limp but her movement is graceful. It’s cold outside but the warmth of the room embraces her. She reciprocates the embrace and unbuttons her jacket. Her face is unsmiling. It seems like she’s been crying. I watch from my corner in the room. I bear no aid to this vision. There’s music coming from the ground. Its vibrations move through my body but I cannot move. She doesn’t see me and I hope to keep it this way. She moves. Not her, her legs. It starts as a little tap and now i can see her sway. The movement is almost non-existent, I’m tempted to lean forward. To see her better. I want to smell her. Connect to her.

She swirls. My breath catches for a moment. The noise screams in my head. Surely i have given myself up. I am wrong. She continues to dance. Awkward motion looks so beautiful. Perfection in her flaws. Wrong but right. She moves. She moves. My head yearns for more. My heart yearns for more. I seek a link. I’ve been hidden in this corner for so long I fear my legs have forgotten. I inch back into the dark. Watching her is all I can have. My head has won a battle. My heart prepares for another fight.

 

She leaves the floor. Bad take-off. She crashes down with a thud and my heart aches. Will she crawl into a corner like me. I pray she crawls into mine. I seek connection. She pushes off the floor again. Harder. I see pleasure in her pain. Love in her hard work. Another thud. I can’t bear to look. I want to call out to her. Tell her to stop and crawl into the darkness. She pushes again. harder, harder. She’s off the floor. Flying, soaring. The beauty swallows me whole. I’m drawn but I fight. I have nothing in common with this creature.

 

I have given up. One last glance at the creature and I am entranced. I cannot look away. She flies lower. She sees me. I see the smile build up on her face. On my face. I fly even lower and reach to pull me out of the darkness.