So many times I have started this piece, so many times erased it.
I know nothing about hip-hop, nothing about being a young black man in a white man’s world.
Well maybe I know something about living in a white man’s world. Is that something you and I share, like some distant DNA?
But really I’m a white girl (white woman) living in a white world, and the violence I’ve known has been all in the family: incest, watching my sister die. But my neighbors go to bed at 10, and even though I’m the albino-freak to my mother and her fucked up brothers I still got to sit on a shrink’s couch for fifteen years. And I’ve never heard a gun shot. Except the one I shot myself, at a rich girl’s riding camp.
So why are you suddenly such a great and strange love in my life? I don’t know your music, I don’t know the language you speak with your friends, the invisible dots over all those i’s. I don’t know Compton, I don’t know California, I don’t even know youth anymore.
But when you sing, when you rhyme, when you get that desperate old-man Otis Redding scratch in your throat, it’s like you get me, you get all of us, and it makes me love you like mad.
I hate the word hope, and the dissatisfaction with life as we know it that word implies, but when I listen to Donald Trump or I see the fucking rednecks I live around, with their trucks and their self-satisfaction and their fear of losing their forced ownership of this world, and then I listen to you, I feel it. I feel hope. Because there are millions and millions just like me, who love you just like I do, and who resonate with your pain, your rage, your amazing, perfect anger and your music that is so moving and also really makes us move, some unstoppable dance.
Rage is hard, but never stop. Never stop. Without you there would be a rip in the art of our world, and it’s been ripped enough.
I love your spoken word.
I love your speed.
I love your ache.
I love your producers and your freedom and your sense of play.
I love your fucking eyes, you know they are the eyes of a poet, and a brave one at that.
Mainly though I love the truth of your sound, and how you know, and I know, there is a bridge we will never cross, but it must be built all the same, if only for the sake of saving ourselves from drowning.
When I was in Paris and I had no money and no passport and I had to walk a long time through the city through many arrondissements I listened to your voice for the first time. And just as I was rounding a bend in the 3rd, “Backstreet Freestyle” started to play on my headphones, and at the exact same moment I laid my eyes for the first time that trip on the Eiffel Tower. It was some sort of perfect union between the reality under my feet and the reality in my head. I think you do those sorts of things to people a lot.
Angry white woman
Angry black man
Angry white woman living in a white man’s world
Angry black man living in a white man’s world
Other than that, difference.
But when I hear you, no difference. I run to your songs until my knee swells, and your spoken word makes me fucking weep like a broken child. And those voicemails… damn you’re brave and sad and tender and funny.
Goddamn I love you.
I love the release of you, the release you give to all of us who really want to hear you. And in hearing you we can perhaps hear others, and hear ourselves. The bridge. You’re building it.