Being raised in Queens, NY was like living in the backdrop of a gritty rap music video. Sneakers hung on street wires. Glass vials and broken bottles littered sidewalks. Bootleg vendors set their tables up in the check cashing spot near the candy store where you found every flavored candy you could fathom to get your nerves tingling. Older folks used straws to sip their brews out of brown paper bags as they cooled in the playgrounds at the back of the elementary school, right across from project buildings where gunshots riddled the night.
Police sirens, fire trucks, and ambulance noises were a regular thing under the planes that flew over our heads and blocked us from hearing each other for a few seconds as they rolled into JFK International Airport. Although I couldn't play rap music with curse words, and even though I got in trouble for letting the barber shave a part into my hair, hip-hop was the culture of my childhood.
I was in junior high school when Funkmaster Flex dropped back to back consecutive bombs to push New York City to the edge of their seats as he debuted 'Nas Is Like' live on Hot 97 radio. It was a feeling like no other and it was at that moment when I first caught butterflies for hip-hop and fell in love with music.
I eventually started writing my own lyrics and spent most of my allowances and work money on cassette tapes and cds. When I got to high school, I told my friends "I'ma write every night 'til I get nice when I'm older." Now I'm older with a shoebox stuffed full of raps, all so the kids of today can tune in when they're not in school and take a listen to me, AFTRschool.