“What do you think about Drake’s bars?” texted my friend to our group chat. I wanted to tell him they were the hottest bars out. I had actually heard the diss track, “Back To Back” on Hot 97 on my way to work. I could even recall my favorite line, “trigger fingers turn to Twitter fingers.” But the truth was Drake’s bars weren’t the most earth shattering. Not because it wasn’t hip-hop or rap. Not because the bars may not have been as piercing as Nas’ Ether or Jay Z’s Super Ugly. But because the hottest bars right now are inside a book I’m reading, Between The World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
You see the world he describes: cops getting away with murder, surviving the streets, being told to be twice as good, and learning in a school system designed to fail you is my world. I see it clearly when I travel to my old neighborhood in Breukelen projects to see my grandma. I hear it when media outlets explain the deaths of Sandra Bland, Eric Gardner and many other black men and women as picayune. If I could smell it; it would be a bonfire; a bonfire that managed to burn a piece of me whenever lit. The fire starter is lost within the smokescreen. If I could taste it – my taste buds would be filled with sour disgust.
The world Drake is rapping about is a step out of my frame. The frame is a nice view from the 6: popularity, cars, clothes, money, hoes and no responsibility. It’s a moment in your life that’s just right: drunk but not pissy, high but still conscious, a geek but still cool.
Otherwise being present throughout the day is exhausting. Yes, I am black. No, I am not inferior. Yes, I can be pro-black and not be a racist. No, it’s not reverse racism. It’s similar to any other racial or ethnic group. Yes, saying the N-word offends me. Yes, it is used in a song I like. Yes, Obama is the president and is black. No, that does not mean I live in a post-racial America. I live in the US a place I call home. But how many ways do I have to thwart attacks against my existence to live a life filled with liberty, freedom and justice?
Maybe I’m just dream chasing. And in this dream I’m a lion named Cecil who is killed illegally while pursing this dream of liberty, freedom and justice. But “until the lion tells his side of the story the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
Rashaun J. Allen (@rashaunjallen) is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment. He has been featured in several publications such as: The Chronicle, The Troy Record, Albany Student Press & UA Magazine. Find his books at www.Royalbluepublishing.com.