I know you all want to hear about USPATH. I don’t know what I want to say about the experience yet. I was able to speak as part of a panel on detransition mental health care. That went great. The content of the other presentations, and then what went down as far as Zucker being no-platformed, I found super unnerving. At some point soon I will tell you the details of what unnerved me. It was a disturbing enough experience that I need to digest it for a little bit before writing it out.
So instead I’m just going to talk about rap music. Whenever I feel really freaked out by the world- freaked out by something I have to do, or freaked out by the stuff other people are doing, or just generally freaked out by how nasty this world is, I go heavy on the rap music. Not especially conscious stuff. I would say Run The Jewels is as conscious as I get. They’re very conscious, very smart, but they’re a technically superior group on a lot of levels, not just in terms of content. I’m not super impressed by political content in rap music- that’s a measure of success that’s a lot easier to achieve than a big, compelling beat or a skillful flow. But if you bring all those together- the smarts, the very skilled flow, the crazy beats- yes, I am down, I will not argue against the Shit. Being. So. Good.
I came up around boys who love rap music, and so it’s not surprising when I thought I was a boy a part of that was how much I like listening to rap music. One of the most consistent anti-depressants in my life has been running while listening to rap. When I first moved to Berkeley I was in a place in my life where I was listening to Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City about once a day. That’s a crazy great album. I like it way more than To Pimp a Butterfly. But I have a bad habit of getting into albums 5 years after everyone else has freaked out over them, so ask me again in 2022.
But most of the rap I listen to is not conscious shit. Most of it is about being dominant, rich, desirable to lots of women, not being fooled by fake love from fake people, being someone who fucks up people who need to get fucked up.
The rap that gets on the radio is a very specific fantasy of manhood, and it sets up black men for some terrible head trips trying to measure up to this vision of total capitalist mastery. Not just black men- most of the young men I’ve known, regardless of race, have had to figure out where they stand in relation to this impossible standard of manhood. I’m not a sociologist and so I don’t think I have the analysis or language to say anything valuable about race, manhood and rap music.
I will just say this- listening to a lot of rap music has been very good for me learning how to not be a weak piece of shit who gets relentlessly scammed. I do actually credit rap music with my side-eye of the trans scene and eventual total disillusionment with all the trips people expected me to fall for in that scene. The victim shit people try to run in that scene is so over the top, and rap music will never make you more amenable to someone else’s victim trip.
Rap music has also really helped chill me out when people are mad at me. It’s just actually not that big of a deal if other people are upset by you. You gotta be careful because people are vicious, but if you can anticipate the viciousness you can be just fine. Also people are usually vicious in very predictable ways.
And I guess rap music has always been my go to for songs about resilience. Life is fucking awful, cruel, violent,senseless, for sure unbelievably unfair and what are you going to do, lie down and die because that’s how life is? That’s fucking dumb. That’s a dumb way to live. Find the part of you that’s going to keep going until the good part.
There’s rap white girls are expected to like, and generally I do like that rap. Love me some Drake. Went on a long J. Cole bender last summer. I fuck with some Big Sean. And yes, Nicki Minaj is incredibly talented, I don’t care that she looks like she’s had some ribs removed, we all know that her verse in Monster was the entire song.
Nicki also had some emotional stuff on The Pinkprint I really connected to. Once this idiot I knew tried to insult Nicki to me by saying, “She’s like if Mariah Carey was a rapper.” Excuse me, MARIAH CAREY AS A RAPPER IS AN AMAZING CONCEPT. The MARIAH CAREY OF RAP is a title to compete for. In my opinion Lil Kim is still the Mariah Carey of rap. Nicki is great but Lil Kim won that feud from the get.
Sometimes I just need rap to remind myself it’s ok to be a person who doesn’t like getting fucked with, who has ambition, who doesn’t want to have to submit constantly. Sometimes I just need rap to remind me I don’t have to be endlessly forgiving of other people’s bullshit. It’s not a sin to assert yourself in this world. It’s not a sin to not let other people break you down.
I don’t know, sometimes when people try to fuck with me I just think, you idiots don’t get that I figured out how to sustain myself through being very alone and unbelievably forlorn. And literally that was just a lot of prayer and a lot of running around Oakland listening to rap. Then I met other detransitioned women and life got a little less close to the bone. But if you fuck with me on the internet, the worst that’s going to happen is I listen to a lot of rap music that week. Which means it will be a good week.You can set me up for a good week if you feel like it.