Ideas about responsibility – personal, local, community (however defined), global – have been on my mind a lot this year. The pounding in my head with all these things is intense…recently it’s intensified because of personal things but also because of the things going on in the news, both in the United States and in Jamaica. It’s overwhelming for me, really…trying to sort things through.
Last night I got an email reminder about Blog Action Day 2012…this year’s theme is “The Power of We” so I guess I’ll have an opportunity to (attempt to) sort things out in my post for the day. Last night I was also listening to old Rap…don’t even remember how it happened. Started out with Nas and ended up on 2Pac. And it’s two of his (of course) great songs that I’m going to focus your attention on in this post.
I didn’t grow up on Rap…I grew up on Dancehall and Reggae. But I’ve grown to love Rap too, though not with the same intensity as with Dancehall and Reggae but like Dancehall and Reggae, I tend to prefer the older stuff. I simply don’t get into however-many-Chainz and fat rappers who have a preference for going topless all the damn time. Sure I will bop along to recent stuff but it rarely resonates with me. Anyway, I remember the first time I heard “Brenda’s Got a Baby”: I was home in NYC with my older sister, flipping channels and the got stuck on MTV (you know, when it used to play music videos). Some video finished and I was about to switch but she stopped me because 2Pac’s exposition was about to come on…she’d recognized the opening frames of the video. I remember the look on her face as she watched…captivated by the storytelling, imagery, message. So I watched it with her and I’ve never forgotten it. I listened to it last night with the thoughts about responsibility running around in my head…how much has really changed?
So I started clicking through YouTube and my iTunes for other 2Pac tunes and, of course, came across a favourite of mine: “Changes.” I was in boarding school by the time this video came out and remember a (black American) classmate and I watching TV – one of the rare times – and I also recall the look on her face as she watched the video: sadness, understanding. I was sad too…it seemed, as it still does, such a waste of talent, a poet really. Even now when I hear this song or watch the video I feel a tug and tears still come to my eyes. I wonder whether even now if we’re “ready for a black President.”