To be a soldier, must maintain composure at ease
Though life is complicated, only what you make it to be.
–Tupac Shakur, “My Ambitionz Az a Ridah.”
Music colors the world we live in, at least for me. Many times I was able to find strength and empowerment through my favorite artists and songs. To introduce myself, I must introduce Hip-Hop first. Hip-Hop music has negative and positive aspects, as do most artistic genres. The evolution of this genre has showed the power of words as many songs have had the power to both divide cultures and unite races. Just as literature can be controversial, music can be as well. Artists connect to their listeners through their beats and lyricism. Many times the purpose is to show fans that regardless of what someone goes through, success is always attainable.
Tupac Shakur revolutionized music when he began educating his fans through his lyrics and words. Being an artist in the 90s, Tupac said many things that other artists were afraid to say. His words have spoken to me and many others of what it means to be an educated person of color. His lyrics, along with those of several other rappers, were the first English lessons I learned. I explored wordplay, puns, similes, metaphors, character development, and more through the intricate and purposeful use of language in my favorite songs. Tupac showed me the power of words, which gave me the love that I have for writing. Just how music has saved some rappers, writing has saved me and has inspired my ambitionz az a writer.
My entire life I attended predominantly white institutions for my schooling. It never got easy. My friends were different; they were more privileged, they got along better with the teachers, and they were white. I grew up trying to ignore where I came from in order to feel that I had a place in the crowd. Yet every time, for some reason, I was always ten steps behind. So eventually I gave up. It’s exhausting pretending to be someone you are not and it’s depressing to turn your back on your heritage. With so much confusion in my head, what did I have left to do? I did the only thing that felt right in my heart, I listened to music. The lyrics became my safe haven and the artists became my friends. I listen to Rap and Hip-Hop because I feel exultant from the intellectual words coming from people who society wishes would fail. Exemplary people that prove it is possible to make it on your own. The way these artists deal with their everyday struggles is what I dream of being able to do.
The faith that artists place in their words and skills of lyricism has saved them from repeating cycles of poverty or of a painful life, as well as, saved their fans. I was weary about majoring in English because I thought that I would always be undermined for being a Latina attempting to make a career out of her second language. Yet, now I understand that this is what sets me apart from the many writers already existing in the world. I have a story of triumph to share, and I have a responsibility to reach the youth of my culture. Like Tupac said, I might not change the world, “but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will.”
Grub Street Poetry Team Member
The image above is "Flight" by Gillian Collins.