24/7 BBoy

Written by Omniscion

I was born and raised to the beat, I’m not considered the average black guy, and I’m not considered the average hip hop head, but I am both. I don’t wear ridiculous over-sized clothes, and I rarely buy new gear, I work hard, 7:30 to 4:30, Monday through Friday and I drive a beat up old car with a weak stereo (while my girl has a nice car). I watch about 30 minutes of TV a week (at the most) and I spend most of my time in my office at home listening to hip hop and playing video games and discussing hip hop in detail with my friends over ventrilo. I live and breathe hip hop. Not that radio madness, real elemental Hip Hop.

My first memories of hip hop are blurry at best, things like listening to AM radio hip hop shows at 5:30 on Thursday with my older cousin while he explained who everyone was and taught me how to pop-lock. But I recall 2 things in particular very clearly; The first is purchasing EPMD – Strictly Business with my own money (I was like 12), and the second is going to a banquet with my friend, Kwasi and his mother. while everyone is really excited this baseball guy is talking at this dinner, Kwas and I are writing terrible rhymes on the back of the dinner place-mats about the food and how bad it was.

About maybe 4 years later comes my next clear hip-hop memory. I and the same friend are in the car with our “producer” going to a hip hop show at a Sacramento north area high school. We’re performing, but we’re nowhere near the top act. The first two guys to come out are thuggish imitations of Los Angeles cookie cutter image at the time creased and colored and mumbling at everyone about drugs and fighting and death. It was like an illness. We were on the edge ourselves. It was what everyone was doing and we weren’t old or wise enough to know better, but somehow we did. the music was in us, the KRS, Big Daddy Kane, The Biz, LL, Ultramagnetics, the Audio Two… all that stuff was bouncing around in our heads all the time. Kwasi and I used to play a game where we would recite a quotable and the other would have to finish it and name the artist and album. When the time came we got on stage, I remember reciting what we had all rehearsed so many times and Kwasi (known as K-style) calls for our producer to drop the beat and he gets the crowd to clap and I felt sort of frozen “it could all fall apart” is what I was thinking and then I said it, “we’re going to do this the way it was supposed to be done!” and it was like I wasn’t saying it, like there was something else taking hold of me. I wondered if this was what people in church felt like when the Holy Spirit took hold of them in church. It was like that maybe, but I felt like I was surrounded by devils and the crowd was looking for me to lead them out of it all safely.

We free styled for a good 15 minutes. I came from the head flawlessly, K-style did a written and so did Mike (mic), the crowd was involved and everyone was propping us when we left the stage. We were the youngest group and only ones to represent real hip hop. The headliners did the same as we did, it kind of made me angry because I had seen them before and they have never bothered to try and freestyle at any previous shows. I tried to battle their group leader after the show, but he acted like he couldn’t hear me. But he could hear me, and some of the people in the cipher wanted me to get my shot at him. I never did.

The group eventually fell apart. Honestly, it was my fault I couldn’t bring myself to do gangster music after I felt the energy from a real freestyle session and that’s what was selling, so it was what our producer was pushing. K-style had always been better than everyone else in presence and lyrics, and he had also always been a bit rougher under the exterior than me as well. For him to do hardcore style stuff wasn’t much of a stretch. I was out for sure when I realized I could live my life content to battle kids on the sidewalk in Davis, downtown sac, and occasionally off of florin or in Arden mall. That’s what I was built for, I felt like that’s what it was really about. Some people want to make money from it, but in the end, all we want is to feel good. Battling cats made me feel good. I finished high school the hard way (at continuation school), did 2 years in college till I realized I would much rather have money for fun than an education. I continued through a string of horrible futureless jobs until around 24 years old, I settled down. I didn’t need to battle anymore. I just wanted to hear it, I liked to school cats, but I needed to really apply my mind now, I had to get on with my life. I didn’t want to be 30 years old sporting the hottest new styles with my kids under my arm while I try and get some chickens number during their weekend visit.

Now, just to recap my life as a b-boy for you: when I was 12 I started backpacking, I hit the streets with my walkman and I didn’t look up till I was around 22. Alternatively, at about 17 I started smoking weed and I hit the trees hard. One night, at about age 24, I was smoking with my friend Gabe and we came to the conclusion that we needed to get things done. We were surrounded by the hoodiest of hood-rats at the time and we just looked at them and realized that these weren’t the kind of women we would be happy to see our children with or around. I absolutely stopped smoking weed and never looked back. I made moves too, just to back it all up. On a side note, Gabe is still a DJ and damn good one, he spins house at several clubs all over town and works a full week if not more. He took his time and made life out of it while he was working as a salesman. I went back to technical school and got a degree in microcomputer operations. I was an artist, doing graph at some point and I was a computer nerd trying to make web pages at some other points. I liked video games and I loved music. Before I made the choice to go back to school I didn’t know what to do.

To get through school I did a bunch of office jobs till I hooked up with EarthLink and did tech support for 3 years. EarthLink tech support went Indian right after my scholastic career ended and I got my degree. At the time my degree was worthless. The tech industry had died and so did my hopes with it. I did several jobs to survive and ended up at a video game store for another 3 years where I met customers who were guys just like me who had done well. We all had one similarity. We all woke up one day and decided that we wanted to be an adult or at least successful, and none of us gave up hip hop. Not even slightly. It revitalized my soul to meet people like that and one day I was mentioning some of my issues at work to a guy and he told me straight, “you made it this far, you only got a little ways to go. It doesn’t seem like they’re going to take you any further here.” Those words hit me like a truck, and with the next big dispute at work, I quit on the spot and found myself on the street again leaving that place behind not to look back. I was imprisoned in my own self image for three years, believing I couldn’t do any better, even after I had made an effort to really get somewhere. In two weeks I got a job making double what I had made after 3 years there, and I left that job too. Currently I work in a nice office with a door, at my own desk, with my own phone, and my own distinctive job to do. I intend to stay here a long, long, time. At my desk I have two computers and I make web pages most of the day when I’m not goofing off in email or in the break room with my coworkers (most of which are my own age). But I promise you, if you ever see me working quietly and keeping my eyes locked on my screen, part of my meditation is listening to hip hop in a headphone ear-bud in my left ear. I’m 32 years old, I’m still a b-boy and a hip-hop-head and no matter what I’m doing, what I’m wearing, or who I’m working for… nothing can ever really change that.

Soundtrack to this story:
DJ Krush – Light (Can You See It) Download
from MiLight (1997, Mowax/FFRR)

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  1. word to that, i can hear you loud and clear, i’m not so much a battle emcee as i just love to freestyle off the dome with some crafty lyricists in a cipher, something about flowing with people and hearing that “oooohhhhhh” or the “daaaaaamn” it always made me flow better, i’m only 24 and workin temp jobs here and there, i got a damn degree in philosophy and i’m thinkin about goin back to get a masters and maybe a phd, but hip hop is at the core of me, and i’m debating if i want all that extra debt, maybe run a few businesses, work a few hours everyday and just pick up the deposits type thing, i’ve seen it done it works, that few hours a day of work would enable me to listen to hip hop relentlessly for the rest of my day, hell i wouldn’t even mind running a record store, was it not for mp3s, torrents, and all the rest, but i gotta say, hearing someone else say what i think is pretty proper, at least i’m not alone in listening to good hip hop and looking at the shit on tv and thinking its rediculous, we can’t all be glamorous rappers with mad fame without selling out and losing some of that inspiring soul that brought us to hip hop in the first place, thanks for blessin us with your thoughts, the thoughts of the average hip hop head that lives a normal life unlike the lives of dope dealers and hustlers, pimps and all the rest…

    • Theory
    • April 9th, 2007

    Man…thanks for that. I’m only 20 but I feel you on like everything your sayin. I’ve been messin up at work alot lately (I wonder why?) and I’m realizing that I got a dope job that allows me to put my self through school and still go diggin on the regular…and i’m throwin it away. I just wish I could find those people that I can talk to about hip hop for hours, I lost them when I left high school. I guess that’s why i’ve found my way to the blog world. Anyway man again thanks for that slice of your life!

    • HalfmanhalfPeterPan
    • April 15th, 2007

    Word! – Thanks that was an invigorating read bro..I need a kick up the ass!! Broke and aint feelin’ it..at all!!! Young un’s out there – Seriously – leave the TREES alone. The early 90’s reared a generation of what are now complacent adults, struggling with the times..influences see circa Cypress and Redman FACT – booooo!!

    peace

  2. man, i love all you guys. i just hope you stick to it and keep your heads up. remember to stay focused.

    Hip Hop and Love go hand in hand, not Hip Hop and Hate. Tribulations are only a moment in time. struggles last forever so there no point in putting them off now when you’re at the bottom cause it only gets harder to come up the lower you go.

  3. PS – I tend to post my articles as “Omniscion” and my comments as “Timm”. Like Audio1 i have named myself in Hip Hop as i believe we all should take the time to do as its a manner of finding ourselves and discover who we would like to be as opposed to who we are named as.

  4. I’ll be turning 30 this year but I’m still a straight hip hop head. I’m in sales,married, own a business on the side, still do graff, sag my pants, have a 10 y/o son and I don’t plan to change for anyone. It feels like I have an alter-ego because as soon as I take off my slacks, I’m me again, I don’t feel like I should leave by anyones standards, just my own, i take care of my responsibilites so I feel like by doing that I can do what i’ve always loved and that puts a balance in my life. I love the fact that I’m the few that appreciate what some dope hip hop really is, so, feel assure you have people all over the globe who are the same way you are, just like your boy, BillyBeans. Im out!!

  5. I’ll be turning 30 this year but I’m still a straight hip hop head. I’m in sales,married, own a business on the side, still do graff, sag my pants, have a 10 y/o son and I don’t plan to change for anyone. It feels like I have an alter-ego because as soon as I take off my slacks, I’m me again, I don’t feel like I should live by anyones standards, just my own, i take care of my responsibilites so I feel like by doing that I can do what i’ve always loved and that puts a balance in my life. I love the fact that I’m the few that appreciate what some dope hip hop really is, so, feel assure you have people all over the globe who are the same way you are, just like your boy, BillyBeans. Im out!!

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