By Susannah Clarke
Hip-hop saved my life.
Thus was the conclusion I came to at last Tuesday’s Lupe Fiasco concert.
Despite being awkwardly confined to the velvet seats of Dodd Auditorium, the over-whelming white audience still managed to portray exactly how Mary Washington got her groove back. My neck still aches from the constant head-bopping.
I am one of many who had a rough freshman year of college. As I left my high-school bubble of family dinners and girls’ nights out in suburbia, I was thrown into an unfamiliar world of Jagerbombs and spontaneous grinding. My comfort zone quickly deteriorated.
My strict upbringing had me entering college purist and square. I was raised on oldies and NPR.
Along with a few obligatory diversions into bubble-gum pop, I was your typical pop-punk middle schooler turned indie-snob high-schooler, with a solid foundation of Dylan, Springsteen, and the Beatles.
Besides Eminem and Outkast hits from the Top 40, my exposure to hip-hop pre-college was as follows: I knew every word of Coolio’s “Kenan and Kel” theme song, and I had seen (then P.) Diddy in concert in the 8th grade.
A brief explanation: he was opening for Britney Spears. I will never forget my father-the-chaperone’s reaction to P. Diddy’s opening remark: “lemme hear ya say yeah!”
“I don’t want to say ‘yeah,’ Mr. Diddy,” said my own puff daddy. “I just paid you fifty dollars; you’re the one who should being saying ‘yeah.’”
My point: with the exception of a few VH1 specials on Tupac and Biggie, my knowledge and exposure to rap and hip-hop was not enough to merit any kind of taste whatsoever. I didn’t understand it and that made me uncomfortable. I remained hidden behind my Paul Simon EP’s.
Enter college, a time of broadened horizons and showering in flip-flops. My mind and ears became open as I met new types of people and listened to new types of music.
All of a sudden, the beats and grunts I once considered primitive and trivial became infectious and captivating.
The egotistical and misogynistic lyrics were oddly refreshing after eighteen years of oversensitive poetic whining. The confines of traditional melody became irrelevant; rap became poetry.
The carefree intensity of hip-hop harmonized perfectly with the anxious time of transition and growing up that was freshmen year. When you lose yourself in a beat, all your 99 problems seem to drift away. That’s just the way it is.
The Lupe concert was a marking point for my transition into college-life. I have officially stepped outside of my ignorant and close minded emo-shell and have embraced my right to party. Be it Weezer or Weezy, 50 Cent or “50 Ways to Lose Your Lover,” good music has no genre.
And damn, does it feel good to be a gangsta.