Gangsta Rap “Made” Me Do It

I always tell people “Anything I didn’t learn from my father, I learned from a rap song.” Most people think I’m kidding and those who don’t shake their heads in disgust, preaching that shit my grandma used to preach.“If you knew your homework like you knew them rap songs you’d have straight A’s.” I always did well in school, but I was pretty well versed on street knowledge. Being black male, especially one growing up in Atlanta, it was considered an honor to be asked your opinion on the new Wayne mixtape or how you felt about the production value of the latest Future tape. Metro vs. Zaytoven? Is Gucci really a clone? Why the fuck does 21 savage have a knife in his face? Anybody who knows me knows I’ll argue anybody down about Bankroll Fresh being better than your favorite rapper. Rap music was always a big part of my life and being able to identify (even though sometimes it wasn’t sincere) with the lyrics coming from one of your favorite rappers seemed to cement you place in Black Male superiority. However, life imitating life was all too real and I had to quickly learn how to separate music from reality. This included learning the difference between being an upstanding black male and being a “nigga,” which really just meant “stop showing out when these white folks around.” My adolescent years were spent fighting with school administration about my choice of conversation, conversation laced with words you’d probably only hear on a street corner or in a trap house kitchen. I got tired of defending myself against a standard I hadn’t asked to set. Why is my blackness only limited to correct grammar and staying on the road less traveled? Why is it an issue when other aspects of my culture are embraced? Whether you like it or not, what rappers put on wax is a reflection of somebody’s reality and chastizing young black males for simply enjoying the fruits of a culture that represents their struggles, be them factual or fiction, is no better than telling their black ass to get to the back of the bus.  

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