I know… What a title! My daughter Amber used these funny but accurate words to describe her and me, as we were listening to Future, sipping on cocktails at a pre-Mother’s day gathering. The words floated effortlessly out of her mouth as I head nodded repeating the lyrics, “Mask off, Mask off…”
Hi my name is Jeannell and I’m a 45 year old who listens to Future, Travis Scott, Gucci & Migos, just to name a few…. And at any given time, will also break down the historical impact of slavery and colorism or highlight the contrasting views of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois. If I feel that you’re really on my wave, I may share with you my deep love of the Harlem Renaissance and the prolific pieces that flourished from the likes of Romare Bearden, Archibald Motley, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin or Langston Hughes. Oh I could go on and on; as I am a lover of all that comes from the depths of melanin and enriches the world with fragments of energy that live on forever.
So how could I not be a lover of those infectious beats that don’t allow for a second of thought before my ample behind has joined its rhythm nation and my head is nodding in a way that insists I am agreeable with whatever lyrics are making love to the beat. Most times, I don’t agree, but I listen to the art and pain as they are often one and I become a student. You see, these lyrics are about perspective and although it may not be my perspective, it still matters... And just like that, the voiceless get heard as they connect with like experiences and we all connect through that beat.
I previously mentioned my love for these other subjects so that you are able to understand the knowledge that has shaped my worldly views. This writing is my perspective as a mother of 2, corporate America employed, middle class upbringing, college educated, middle aged woman of color. My goddess complex is a direct result of my awareness of my divinity.
As an empath, I can already feel the side-eyes and judgment regarding my age and listening to this “type” of music. So let me just say that I own that 4 and that 5, I own the maturity and wisdom, the stretch marks, cellulite and extra pounds that come with it. And I also own my love for dissecting the most ratchet of lyrics such as , “Even if I hit you once, you part of my collection” or “My nuccas is savage, ruthless (savage), We got 30's and 100 rounds too”. You see, I don’t have to live it to appreciate the perspective that it’s coming from and although it’s not my truth or story, it’s a real story that matters. Not listening doesn’t make it go away. Art is a reflection of life, so hip-hop is a reflection of many brown lives and brown lives matter.
So at 45 and a lover of this art form called hip-hop and all that this culture has birthed, I won’t hide behind the pseudo image of the brown intellect with a glass of Rosé reading the wall street journal, listening to the jazz greats. I mean I love me some Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, but this trap goddess would prefer a coconut Cîroc with pineapple and the latest Future mixtape any day. “I’m just being honest”…
Sidebar- I don’t do top 5’s, because I don’t feel it’s fair to pit my faves against each other, but Jay-Z, Nas and Biggie are my #1’s.