Hip-Hop, Fatherhood, Communication, & Understanding

I could feel each and every eyeball analyzing me, reading me, trying to figure me out. I was at a LifeSkills school to talk and share poetry with the students. They all had “extreme” backgrounds – gangs, guns, drugs, and violence. And here I was – hoping one or two of the syllables that would spill from my mouth would be enough to make a difference. But did have a few things going for me - I looked like them. They had tattoos: I had tattoos. They listened to Dr. Dre, Jay Z, Snoop etc: I did too. They wore Roc-a-wear, Sean John etc: I did too. They’re parents or guardians passed away or weren’t around: me too.

That was 8 years ago; I connected with them that day, ended up going back a couple of more times and did similar work at other community centers in the Detroit area. The lessons I learned all have stayed with me though parenthood.

When I was 16 years old; I can’t say I had much in common with anyone that was twice my age. Older men didn’t listen to hip-hop nor did they dress like they listened to hop-hop lol. The men at LifeSkills understood that as well which is why they had me come in. I was only 29/30 years old – I could relate.

Being a part of Generation X has changed things. My oldest son is 14; we listen to a lot of the same music and wear some of the same brands of clothing. We’re able to talk about DJing, emceeing, rapping, and life. We talk sports, history, and politics as well but it’s “Hip-hop” that has created the bridge between our ages and has helped enhance our bond. It’s normal to hear him reciting verses from Biggie’s “Ready to die” album (which came out when I was 17 years old). It’s actually pretty fun to explain/show him how hip-hop has progress and in some ways gone backwards over the years. But more importantly – it’s nice just to be able to “talk” to him. My grandfather told me stories of his youth. We talked sports, a little history, and current events. He was 56 years older than me – there weren’t many mutual mediums for us to explore together. We were from 2 different worlds – so my grandfather didn’t have the luxury I do now. It was yearssssssss before many of the lessons my grandfather taught me started to make sense. I’m hoping my children will listen to me a lot sooner, maybe avoid many of my mistakes.

For years I wondered how could I best “change the world.” I’ve learned that influencing, communicating, and building my children might be the most revolutionary and influential thing I can do.

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