Five major influences of my upbringing and ongoing:
- My parents
- Mr. Rogers
- Hip-hop culture
The first four may be up there for obvious reasons, but hip-hop culture has exposed me to elements of expression such as rhyming, dancing, and even fashion, all of which I still participate in today. When I was 4 years-old, Run DMC was on Reading Rainbow rapping and telling kids how cool it is to read and learn. I wanted to be like them.
The College Dropout (2004)
In 2003, I heard Kanye West’s first single as a rapper Through the Wire. There was something about the lyrics and conviction of the song that made me believe that he was far above what was currently popular and different from anything I have ever heard (probably because he did the whole song with his jaw wired shut).
The next two singles All Falls Down and Jesus Walks from his first album The College Dropout showed transparency and even a bold belief in Jesus. I listened to the rest of the album and officially became a fan.
Throughout the years Kanye found himself in political, musical, and other public controversy. His music evolved, and I loved it. His attitude changed, and it made me grind my teeth or sigh deeply.
Today, I don’t know what to think about Mr. West. He recently cancelled a huge tour this past Fall 2009 as he explained that he needed to do some “soul searching.”
We’re at war with terrorism, racism, and most of all, we’re at war with ourselves.
- Kanye West (in Jesus Walks 2004)
I wish Kanye the best and also hope that Jesus does walk with him just as he had hoped before.
B.o.B aka BOBBY RAY:
B.o.B presents The Adventures of Bobby Ray (2010)
With the rap game and mainstream music flooded with auto-tuned club-bangers, B.o.B has brought a refreshing vibe of what hip-hop used to sound like. My peers have compared him to Andre 3000 of Outkast and Ludacris. I confidently agree. B.o.B’s album B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray shows true talent compared to the music out right now. He collaborates with musicians and artists outside of hip-hop while staying true to its roots. He sings ballads, plays instruments, and can even be “‘hood” when he wants being from Atlanta and all.
I’ve been telling my friends that B.o.B is exactly what the game needs. His release into the music world struck a nerve in me as it was the same sensation and relief I felt when Kanye first arrived on the scene. However, knowing what has happened to Kanye so far, I fear what may become of B.o.B.
You can listen to his album and read his lyrics at his official site.
But look it’s plain to see
Aint nothing in this game gon’ be changing me
I’ma always be B – o to the B me me
-B.o.B (in Fame)
B.o.B is among the few artistic inspirations in my life right now.
I’ve looked up to a lot of people in my life, placing them on pedestals. Eventually, they fell, and if they haven’t fallen yet, they soon will one way or another.
LESSON LEARNED: Stop putting people on pedestals. They probably wouldn’t want to be on one anyway, and if they did, that should be a huge RED FLAG about their character.
People, materials, and situations will let you down in life, heroes and all. Does this give us an excuse to pre-judge or assume the worst in them? No way. Think about all the times people have given you another chance after screwing up BIG TIME. Remember how embarrassed and humbled you felt? It’s ok.
Despite our upbringing and inspirations, we all fall down.
NOW GET UP.
This is what it means to be human.
Pass it on.