(long post warning)
"Hip hop just saved my life" When I sang that line along with hundreds of Lupe Fiasco fans on Wednesday night, I felt like I was lying. I'm pretty sure there were a number of people in attendance who had their lives saved by hip hop in some way. Hip hop has been an integral part of their beings for almost as long as they can remember. Hip hop has gotten some of them through the rough times in life. For me, not so much. Really, if my sixteen year-old self witnessed me at a rap concert, she'd be very surprised. If she knew I attended two rap concerts in the course of a year, she'd probably faint. If she knew I enjoyed the entire thing. Both times. She'd probably never would have gotten up.
I don't remember the first time I met Lupe Fiasco the way I remember meeting Mos. I think it was the "Kick, Push" video. But, I'm not sure about that either. I just know somehow I ended up buying the album and I couldn't stop listening to it. There were stories and complicated lyrics and uniquely arranged patterns and topics that ranged from love to death to religion and I ate it up. He does this thing I call mirroring, where he'll repeat the same verse with a slight variation and a entirely new meaning can come of it. Every time I listened to it, I learned something new about a song, the artist, art, myself. I agreed with him, I was challenged by him. I fell in love with this art, with lyrics, with beats, with stories, with a man's mind and what comes out of his mouth.
I stood in line so nervous. We got tickets the day they were available to buy, so them running out of tickets was not the problem. I was just nervous. Looking back, I was probably wondering if I appreciated this music enough to be surrounded by die-hard fans who could recite every lyric (I can't memorize rap lyrics for the life of me). After I left the concert and thought, I realized that that was a really dumb thing to think. Every person appreciates music, art, whatever in a different way. I used to be the type of person like, well hey, if y'all weren't up on (ABC artists) before their first hit single, you're not a real fan or whatever. Not like that anymore. Lots of things have kicked me off of my music snob pedestal and I'm glad I'm off of it now.
Energy everywhere. That's basically the only way I can describe my concert experience. We started with B.o.B., who is basically a ball of energy jumping around a stage. His music is cool, too. Then Lupe took the stage and I could feel the energy wave through the crowd. Every song, of course, was my favorite song. I remembered why I loved songs and what they made me feel when I first heard them.
I'm a lyrics girl. You can win me over with lyrics. The energy is in the words. In the stories. The beats, music, whatever push it along, but it's all about the stories. Lupe's got lyrics. He's got stories. He's got heart. You can see his passion for what he's talking about. You can see his passion for music. You can see his passion about people around him. You can see all this by just watching him on stage.
So, no, hip hop didn't save my life. But it definitely changed it. It got me expanding my limits of what constitutes art, music, expression. It got me out of music snobbery. It heightened my love of language and what can be done with it. Rap, hip hop, hasn't always been an integrel part of my life. But if it was only for people who came out of the womb bobbing their heads, it would not be alive today. It crosses lines, changes minds, and opens eyes. I'm glad it crossed my way. No, Lupe is not the only reason I was touched, but he's played a huge part in my appreciation of art of all kinds. Yeah.
I really hope I get to see Lupe Fiasco in concert again.