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My Experience as a Rapper
Today I went to our school’s monthly poetry slam. Usually two people show up, a girl named Tania and myself, and we perform poetry for our captive audience of people in the library.
My friend usually performs spoken word, and I rap. People like this because I look like a Shakespearian poetry kind of kid instead of an Immortal Technique. My raps don’t really have any profound meaning, with lines like “We were thugs for trees / we had pollution on its knees.”
I took this rap to our speech and debate team, because I thought it was pretty good. It was two minutes long, and was about how I save the planet from global warming. I asked my coach if I could perform it at the next speech tournament, in the “Original Prose and Poetry” Division. My coach said yes, but the minimum speaking time for “Original Prose and Poetry” was eight minutes. Unfazed, I added three pages of material, and ended up with a 6 minute rap that I could stretch to 8 if I spoke slow and divided verses with a chorus of vocalizations. It was about a group of gangsters who used their street cred to bully people into combating global warming. There were several acts, and the climax was me meeting Obama to give a speech to the world.
I performed the rap at a speech tournament, where students dress up in business attire and perform speeches. It’s an enormous event, and people come from all over the Bay Area to compete. Adults judge and write their comments on little ballots, rating the speaker from 1 to 5, 1 being the best and 5 if you don’t talk.
I walked into my first round, and watched other people performing their speeches, and realized what I had gotten myself into. I was competing against other people who wrote heart-wrenching stories about war-torn friendships and musical obsessions, and here I was, rapping about climate change. Instead of feeling like Kanye West, I felt like Tupac.
My turn came after a girl finished her speech about fighting a drug addiction. I knew that speeches in the Original Prose and Poetry division are typically fiction, but it worried me how she described hallucinations like she had actually experienced them.
I walked up to the performing area, dressed to in a second-hand suit, turned to the audience, and proceeded to rap. I took some people in the front row by surprise, who were probably expecting another story, but instead were receiving a really cheap version of the Beastie Boys.
After my rap, everyone clapped, and I took my seat and ignored the whispering.
Needless to say, I didn’t get a trophy. A week later I received my evaluations, which were pretty much what I expected. One woman gave me a 5, and justified it with the statement “didn’t understand what you meant by ‘thug’.”
This, however, didn’t stop me from rapping. In my spare time I write lyrics and I practice them with a band. We practice in Room 604 at lunch sometimes, which led us to the band name “From 604”. It’s a rap group with acoustic guitar and bongos, and we’re working on putting out a single, called “Battered Shoes”. It’s about running from the police and having adventures, which I think might be really fun to try out one day. I want to put it on iTunes and make some money, so that when I fill out job applications, I can put “rapper” under “previous employment.”
This probably won’t help me get the job, but it would seal my status as a rapper.
Most likely, I’ll never be famous for “spittin’ my game” because I don’t have a very appealing “Rapper Image.” I doubt people will be rushing to buy From 604’s first album “EcoThugs: H20 Flows.” Rappers work really hard to establish their reputation and their distinct style. Some rappers are known for growing up in the hood, while others are known for their grotesque display of wealth. Everyone has their gimmick, and everyone has an audience. This is probably why I got a 5 at the tournament. I have no gimmick and no audience. I’m a scrawny white male rapping about the environment.
I have a feeling the judge knew exactly what “thug” meant, and that she marked me down because she knew that I would never become one.