One day when I was six, my sister stopped me from going outside with a baseball bat to beat up my neighbors for frustrating me during a basketball game. It’s one of those stories my family likes to tell with semi-nervous laughter because it’s so wild – but it’s still scary to think about.
As a kid, I had a horrible temper. I was never one of those “f*ck you, Mom” kids or anything like that but I fought. A lot. The slightest thing would set me off and I’d just lose it. This behavior only got worse when I was 11 and my parents divorced. I was just perpetually angry – probably in serious need of counseling – and struggling through middle school as a comic book and wrestling fan not many people wanted to talk to.
That’s why when I see the stories of the people that committed the crimes in Newtown – or any other one of these mass murders – I can’t help but wonder what went through these guys’ minds. The stories stick with me and the most recent shooting is no different. I can’t stop thinking about those kids and what it takes to commit these crimes. Maybe I’m morbid, but I also wonder just how much further down the rabbit hole of anger I would have needed to go when I was at my worst to actually act out in such a violent manner. Then, I think about my darkest moments and how I was able to get out of them.
Nine times out of 10, when these moments come to mind, Hip-Hop was there. Ironic that the genre of music that gets so much flack for allegedly inciting violence, helped quell the violent nature that rested inside of this writer. For example, when my parents divorced and my mom and I moved from a house to an apartment with our family essentially torn apart it was DMX who spoke directly to me. His anger, frustration and ability to channel it gave me a place to vent.
While it sounds odd that someone who spoke about killing people all day helped calm me down, he did. X showed the power of having an outlet and the success that could come once you can focus on that calling. Really, It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot introduced me to a closeness to Hip-Hop I hold on to this day.
Other moments of catharsis come to mind now, too. Whether it was The Blueprint blasting through my headphones while I watched the 9/11 coverage in silence, The Love Below getting me through my first little break-up, The Recession channeling my anxiety over trying to find a f*cking job in 2008, or 7even:Thirty’s songs of his daughter and her passing speaking to me as I watched my newborn son fight for his life, there’s always been a timely piece of rap music to pull me through.
Now, this isn’t to say I’d be in jail or some sort of psychopath if I listened to country music or something instead, but the point remains. When I’ve felt my psyche breaking apart and the walls closing in, a timely piece of Hip-Hop has serendipitously been there to help me out. I’m a loner at heart, a kid with only child-like tendencies who doesn’t like being too open. So sometimes the best remedies have been people much better at expressing themselves finding a way to say what they’re feeling and help me relate.
Even now, there have been times where I’ve felt like the only people who understand me are you guys who drop comments every day (even you, Chris Cool and CO Killer) or drop a random “RMF” tweet here and there. Now, my job is to express myself and say what I feel about things…or something. And I can’t do that without some rap song or lyric acting as a catalyst for these expressions. I know, I know. I spend so much time cracking jokes, “slandering” and making lulz about the music, but consider it tough love for the artistry I love so much.
So, in this giving season, with me thankful we survived Armageddon, it’s only appropriate that I send a sincere message to the music that’s been by my side my whole life: Thank you.