Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
It is a sad fact of the matter that “family” is more a matter of convenient coincidence than anything else. Blood relation, fiduciary responsibility in some certain situations, reasonable expectations to be in attendance at weddings and funerals and that is about it.
Loyalty is expected, but that is the human condition. Damned if it is anything close to DEMANDED of anyone these days.
Listen to nearly anyone talking about who over the course of their lives has done them dirty or disloyal, fucked them over or are even just plain funny-acting and guaranteed they have a story that involves a blood relative. Sadly, the ones placed closest to you without your say in it are invariably the ones most likely to fuck your life up, or at least try.
Ability to know who to distance yourself from and specifically how/why are important skills to gain and cultivate. Not to the point of being rude or an asshole about it — yes, even if they are… Let God (or karma, or both if you believe that way!) — but protect your heart and your checking account.
Time will tell you who and not to fuck with in your life, and literally everyone you give a couple of minutes to do so will show you who they are. That goes for people you meet out in the world and people born into your family with you.
The people we freely offer our time and loyalty to, the ones who visit us when we’re in the hospital to add to our families AS WELL as when we need someone to pray with us to get well, the ones who can call from in front of the house and expect to be allowed in (and won’t judge the mess when they get in). These people are your family. The cat that can swing by with a six-pack and spend an hour or more without even turning the television or Playstation on. That man is as much your brother as your parents’ sons are. The people you spent summers in middle school with, walking 30+ minutes to other neighborhoods to play the boys THERE in football or baseball. After 5+ years of friendship, you have to introduce these people as your “cousins.”
For the most blessed among us, at least some of the people you did this with ARE blood related, but people like me only have one brother and our male cousins all lived too far away growing up. We moved a lot growing up, so we have a collection of friends to this day that can call our mom “mama” without her blinking.
These people to us are not “friends,” they’re our brothers and sisters and they all know it. Their kids will and have grown up in a world where we’re their uncles (and vice-versa) and our kids are their cousins and that is perfectly okay with the all of us and our parents. When one of us goes through something, we all feel it in some fashion.
We’ve been told all of our lives that “blood is thicker than water,” but that is a statement of a time when loyalty was automatic — or when disloyalty was not recognizable.
I am more of the mind that “you can’t choose your relatives, but you can surely choose your family.”
And if you have it on your hearts, mutter a little prayer for one of my brothers going through something right now. And speaking of family, it is rather alarming that people do not GENUINELY grasp the concept of Love and Hate. Well, REAL love and REAL hate, that is.
The music that we (well, THEY, because my brain is not equipped to receive many of today’s rappers) hear speaks to this misunderstanding.
Apparently someone who has not reached the stature you claim to have is jealous of, and therefore "hates," you for that. The oddly fucked up thing about this is that they don't even have to have heard of you and you don't even have to HAVE anything of substance.
That is not "hate," that is "indifference."
Conversely, anyone who blindly supports your shenanigans and believes your bullshit apparently "loves" you. Again, they don't have to know you personally and you don't have to have accomplished anything, but if they cheering for you instead of fact-checking then you are loved. This is not to be confused with "in love," which we already discussed recently.
This isn't "love," and frankly I don't think I have a word for this.
You want to see real love? Go out in the world and find it. Go to the airport and see people coming and going and watch their reactions. Have a kid–… wait, DON'T have a kid. Go to a playground and watch a father playing with his daughter and her friends, take cues on how he watches and protects them, his willingness to become a 6 year-old for a couple hours of his week. Visit your grandparents and ask them about their parents or a departed spouse/family member.
The same applies to real hate. Go and find it… Watch the Republican debate or listen to Donald Trump talk. Consume the news from the media about the ills of the world. Shit, take that father on the playground above and imagine what would happen to the hapless fucker who tries his princes out there in that park.
I guess at the end of this all, the thing we REALLY need from what we consume is some growing up. Because someone doesn't enjoy (or, more likely, has never heard of) my work does not mean they hate it. Just because they support my deeds without question does not they love me either, and that assuredly is not necessarily a good thing either.
Words by PHLIP
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Questions, comments, complaints?