Paul Malikkal

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HOW TO GET INTO HIP-HOP: AN ANECDOTE

Paul Malikkal

Are you familiar with rap music? I certainly was not until, relatively recently. You see, there was this one day back in like sixth grade when my mom was driving me home from school. And she was flipping the radio stations for me, scanning through all the hits: Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, L.M.F.A.O. And then on comes this rap song. And I was horrified. Here were these men speaking gibberish at 500 miles an hour. I could only hear little bits of what they were saying, but what I did hear was about rolling in a bathtub filled with dollar bills. And as a sixth-grader who’d just spent the last of his Confirmation money, I found this message a little hard to relate to. So I politely asked my mom if we could listen to that “Tik Tok” song again.

Anyway, that was my first and, for a while, only experience with Hip Hop. So jump ahead four, five years and I stumble upon this musical called Hamilton (maybe some of you have heard of it) and it’s a rap musical. I became obsessed with Hamilton and it showed me that rap could be, for lack of a better word, good. Yes, it took a musical about the Founding Fathers (a topic so un-street they had to cast black actors in it to make it convincing) to show me that rap was an art-form, a lesson the rest of the world learned like thirty years ago.

So after making this revolutionary discovery, I decided to do my homework and start listening to this diverse genre of music. So, I did the scholarly thing, and googled “Top 20 Rap Albums of All Time”. I stumbled across this list of twenty albums, which featured records by Tupac, Eminem, Biggie Smalls & Notorious B.I.G. (who I now know are the same person). But it was Nas who sat at the list’s top spot.

And they called his album Illmatic the greatest rap album of all time, so I sat on my Ottoman, in my expensive home, while sipping a cup of Chamomile tea and listened to a wounded man recount his turbulent experiences on the mean streets of New York City. I was enthralled. My research had paid off. I was officially a hip-hop guy.

The next day, I was excited to tell all my rap-obsessed friends about the new me, the me who listened to Illmatic by Nas and was cool and could talk about rap and maybe spit a bar or two himself. So I walked up to them at school, assuming they were familiar with Illmatic and I said “Guys, I finally did it. I listened to Illmatic by Nas. You’ve heard of Illmatic by Nas, right?”.

To which they replied, “Paul, what the fuck is that?”

So I now know that there is nothing less street than googling “Top 20 Rap Albums of All Time”.

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