Far from Krypton: Would You Look Up to Yourself As a Kid?
“Contrast Bohemia to my workplace” – Busdriver
A long time ago, when we were in our late 20s, me and my potna Neil were on one of our many walking excursions around town. He mentioned that he was not living up to his own expectations. I asked him what he meant. He told me that when he was a kid, he knew he would be a superhero by now, and he just did not see THAT happening any time in the near future.
Isn’t that what it’s all about? Being the adult that the child we use to be wanted us to be?
Maybe this is why I spend so much time thinking about my younger years. Back then, I was Playdoh slowly taking the shape of who I am via the experiences I chose to live. Now that I sit behind a computer in some nameless corporate office eight hours a day, I think I owe it to myself to reminisce from time to time.
Back in college, I use to hang around the hip hoppers. Humans have a way of grouping themselves. Like-minded people tend to create enemies of people who think differently. Many times this brings about group cohesion. But as the group grows, splinter groups form. So even amongst the hip hoppers, there were subgroups. I found myself hanging with the bummy, nerdy, argumentative, artsy fartsy subgroup. We would debate for the sake of the debate. We would poke fun at the pretty boy hip hoppers (as I am sure they made fun of us). Our hip hop standards were extremely high. We tolerated no bs music in any form.
So one day, the homie Cosmo got a shipment of tapes from one of his homies on the West Coast. I remember seeing the trademark Eligh rendition of the Eye of Horus, HAND DRAWN (!!) on one of those tapes. But the tape that made the most noise in my subgroup was coMURShal.
The quality was horrible, but it was still dubbed and redubbed to the point where the hiss and static were louder than the beats and lyrics on some parts. Eligh and Scarub had the style, MURS had the content. We even found time to argue about different aspects of the songs we liked so much.
Then, the homie Thomas got a hold of an online tape catalog (http://www.truehiphop.com/atak/) advertising a new MURS tape. He promptly ordered it and soon after, F’REAL came in the mail. The quality was still terrible, but it was the original terrible. Plus, we got the liner notes, which had been hand-cut at Kinko’s, and the blue cassette alluding to a certain gang affiliation. The name of the work rang true on so many levels.
Thomas gave it a listen in his dorm room. He then gave it to me to listen to one fateful weekend in my apartment. I was all too familiar with the sophomore slump, so I did not really take it seriously. I put it in the cassette player and let it be the ambient music for hanging out with the first woman I ever loved that weekend.
As the sun peeked through the blinds of the large, energy wasting, plexiglass windows of my apartment, F’REAL was still playing as we woke up. As fate would have it, we both actually started listening to his words when “The Jerry Maguire Song” came on. Our eyes widened as the lyrics of that first verse sunk in. Our first words of that day had something to do with rewinding that song.
“Now most of us could waste a whole lifetime doin shit we don’t believe in/
So I’m retrievin words of gold to expose my soul/
On the sheets, combined with the beat, a song, complete, to compete/
Nah, cause most of y’all won’t understand it/
Takin this existence for granted/
Never goin after what you really want cause you ain’t got the heart/
So your life never starts to have meaning/
Fiending for somethin to fill that void, annoyed/
With the surroundings you picked ‘cause they don’t seem to fit your person/
Rehearsin what they said would make you happy/
Until you realized one day, ‘Damn they trapped me’/
But who are they anyway? To tell you how to live/
A college degree, then a career, the only decent way to raise kids/
But I disagree, see I wasn’t put here to make a living/
My living makes me, so even if it takes me a lifetime/
I’ma write rhymes that I feel/
Some shit for when I’m fired, that shit for when I’m chilled/
And even if I never make that ticket to a meal/
I’ll still be a success cause my purpose will have been filled.”
Moments like that leave an impact. Songs like that leave an impact. Even as I sit in my nameless corporate office, feeling the Playdoh I am composed of harden into the shape of something far from a super hero…
MURS – The Jerry Macguire Song