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I had my bedroom window thrown open to the unusually beautiful October weather, the radio cranked up as loud as it would go as I buzzed through my chemistry homework. Far East Movement pulsed through the speakers, the bass line vibrating in my chest.

"Poppin’ bottles in the ice,
Like a blizzard.
When we drink we do it right,
Gettin’ slizzard."

Mom yelled at me from downstairs to close my door three or four times before I actually heard her. Dad put in new doorknobs a few weeks ago and being the adroit, experienced handyman he isn’t, you now have to execute a sophisticated lift-and-shove karate move to get the door to shut. I obediently performed this task, returned to my desk, and even spun the volume down on my iHome a couple notches for good measure. I felt pretty good about myself: listening to my mother and then going the extra mile and actually turning down the volume.

A few days later I was in the kitchen helping make a salad when I heard my little brother singing in the living room, where he was balancing on his head on the couch while playing Mario Kart on his DS (there was a time when I could multi-task like that too).

“Drink it up, drink-drink it up. When sober girls around me they be actin’ like they drunk. Actin’ actin’ like they dru-u-unk.”

I paused. For a few seconds the carrots lined up on the cutting board had a brief reprieve from my wild-woman chopping antics. I don’t know about you, but to my ears it sounded just a little off-kilter to hear my ten-year-old brother singing about “drinking it up.” I almost winced as Keizo continued to sing about “popping bottles” and “sippin’ sizzurp.” There was only one place Z-man could have hard that song, and it almost made me hang my head in shame.

I’ve never thought about the words to “Like a G6” when they were coming from an adult rapper on the radio, or even when I was singing them (however off-key) in the shower or humming them as I did chores around the house. But hearing them in the high, thin voice of my youngest brother forced me to pause and think.

Listening to a song about heavy drinking isn’t exactly the best thing I could fill my head with, but what about the head of my elementary-school age brother? It doesn’t help that Keizo has a memory stickier than super-glue. He can hear a song or movie line once and he’ll repeat it to you twenty times a day for the next month until he has you quoting the characters from Barnyard and Bee Movie like a pro. I could beat Shia Labeouf at his Cody Maverick surfer-slang any day after hearing Keizo quote Surf’s Up day in and day out in the weeks following the DVD release.

I just never thought that Keizo might also be picking up all the music he hears me playing 24/7 in my room. I shudder when I picture him singing Flo Rida, Jay-Z, Eminem, or any of the other rappers played on my favorite radio station, Z107.7. Even Kesha, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga often have explicit or suggestive lyrics.

Listening to Keizo singing “drink it up, drink-drink it up,” lyrics I normally wouldn’t even consider mildly inappropriate since there are no swear words and no sex, acted as a wakeup call for me. As the oldest child, I will inevitably influence my younger siblings, whether intentionally or not. I already hear Keilah-isms coming from Mak and Z sometimes. I often hear my own negativity quoted right back at me. How am I influencing my younger siblings simply through my choice of music? How am I influencing them in other ways? What kind of influence do I want to be? What kind of influence am I now? And next time I hear Z107.7 start blaring “poppin’ bottles in the ice,” will I change the station?





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