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Character Sketch: K.
“Yo, come check this out.”
“It’s a laptop, just bring it to me for God’s sake.” I was already frustrated with Aubrey, I’d already worked my shift at the chicken spot, been to the gym, ran back home to feed my little brother, and done a B-line down Rosecrans to drop the van to Moms, then jogged to the studio. I forgot to each lunch too, and all I brought to the studio was half a sandwich. I barely even slept last night, too, I was up finishing my own piece, and my final English essay - I graduate in a week. Aub knew all this, but he still wanted me to get up from the couch. It wasn’t much to fight over, but I was on a short fuse.
“So I was thinking this beat, these lyrics, what you think?”
I looked over the notes page with lyrics all too familiar on them.
They checkin' my passport, I'm too accustomed with Customs
She call in the task force, I killed it, somebody cuff 'I'm
They want me to fast-forward the game, and why you complain
When you people is past poor, you'll never hop in my lane
When you pushin' a RAV4, you wreckin' my Jaguar
You play like a bad sport, her feet on the dashboard
“You know I wrote this right? You best be putting my name on this record.”
Aubrey turned serious, something he only does when I protest. “I pay you in cash for a reason - keep your mouth shut unless you don’t want to move out of section 8. Now go home, you’re killin’ my god damn vibe.”
Don’t kill his damn vibe? I clenched my fist and started to wind up as he turned around. I could’ve knocked him out if I wanted, but I knew I couldn’t. He was feeding my family. One day I’d get my hit. It could be a revenge piece. Maybe not first, but one of them. I knew it was probably a bad idea, for one I don’t want a reputation of being a diss writer, and I’m above that. All this hard work to throw around petty insults over 808’s? No way. I’ll make what I love. I had ideas. Don’t Kill My Vibe. That sounded nice…
When I got home, everyone but Moms was asleep. She always waited up for me on the recliner by the TV, even the nights Aub kept me until 1 or 2.
“Was it a bad night, K?”
Moms always knew exactly how to read me. I told her about my night, she listened wholesomely - she was the best listener. She got angry with me when I told her that Aub stole my lyrics.
“It makes sense he’s gotta steal my bars though, listen to this,” I chuckled, pulling up a picture of his notepad I took while he was in the bathroom. “She asked me, ‘do you love me?’ / I told her only partly; / ‘I only love my bed and my momma, I’m sorry.’’ We laughed at his trivial “poem”, as was labeled at the top of the page. When we stopped laughing we decided it was time for bed. The clock said 1:37 as I hugged her and told her I loved her.
I loved my mother. She’s been my hero since I can remember. We did everything together. We laughed together, cried together, supported one another. We’d been to hell and back. Every time Pops faced time in county jail, she was there to comfort me. She fought through illnesses, through losing family, losing jobs. She was superwoman. If I ever find success, it’ll be her responsibility. When I was 15 I told her if I ever got a big check the first thing I would do is buy her a house in the Valley. It wasn’t the nicest place in L.A., but at least it wasn’t a warzone. I hated the idea of fame, but I’ve pretty much doomed myself to a life of it, at least if all goes well. Plus, it’s all I can do right now to get Moms out of section 8, which has always been my priority.
As I woke up I smelled the fragrance of bacon, and heard the kick of a Prince song faintly down the hallway, the same records that have influenced my art since I was competent enough to understand the concept of music. I checked my phone and saw a text from an hour ago at 9:21 a.m. from Top.
I picked up my phone and ran down the short hallway to the kitchen, fumbling my phone halfway through. “Moms! It’s him!” I pressed the call button in the top right corner of the screen and waited for him to pick up. The two rings felt like an eternity. I heard my brother shuffle in the room next to mine. I must have woke him when I yelled to Moms.
“K? You there?” I’d spaced out.
“Wa- yeah it.. What’s up?”
“I think you gon’ like this. First tell me what you want your signing bonus to be then hang up and come to the studio. We’re makin’ you a real album.” I could hear the excitement in his voice. I started to tear up. I already knew how much I was going to ask for. He did too.
“You know that house out in the valley I told you about?”
“I’m signing the check now. Get over here!”
“Are you kidding? Yes sir!” I hung up.
I looked at Moms, who was getting a special champagne bottle she apparently kept for this moment. She was crying. So was my brother, who was now peeking out of his bedroom in his boxers. Moms took a swig of the champaign and handed it to me. I turned it down - I had somewhere to drive.
“I do it for you, Moms.”
“I love you, K.”