Thursday, December 23, 2010


Hi everyone.

When I was about 12 years old, my friend Craig (he was actually a prick, but pickings were slim at Box HIll Tech and this dude was smaller than me) gave me a mix tape of Run DMC and Beastie Boys. I loved it. It replaced Barnseys 'Two Fires' and Whispering Jack in the tape player.

Dad was laughing at me for listening to rap. The signs were good. All power to me. As Ali G once said, I dont know what you guys are protesting about but Im with you...I had something that seemed to be dissing somebody and although I still loved and needed my family at this point, I had this subconscious itch to tell them I was my own man. Or at the very least, thinking about becoming so...

Anyone I played the fuck out of those two tapes until Craig gave me another mix tape with Bring The Noise and Dont Believe the Hype on it. By this time I was fairly confident I only needed mum to provide food and shelter for me and Id taken to carrying a skateboard around with me, wearing a NY yankees cap and the rot of teenage angst was bearing fruit. By now, I was refusing to go to Sunday School during the main service. Take that Father...Im staying in with you mob. To hell with coloring in pictures of Jesus out on the water with his friends...Im a time bomb ticking and I might just say anything, but please...continue with your sermon...

Anyway Public Enemy led me further into the jungle of hip hop. I was being supplied tapes by Eric B and Rakim, Easy E or B...I couldnt pick it up...could have been D...I didnt have an older brother, Dad was blissed out to Neil Young so I wasnt able to get any info of where these tunes were coming from or the movement behind them (im still largerly ignorant) but my lord did I love those tapes...? Yes...I did.

Anyway I'd had a puff on a smoke by now and felt my lungs reject it in their entirety yet soldiered on and I heard a whisper about a dude named Ice-T. He had a record called Iceberg. I kept getting the artist and the album mixed up so I kept a low porfile on it, but its momentum was growing at Box Hill Tech. This dude apparently killed cops and captured it live on tape and worked it into his songs. It frightened the hell out of me and I wanted a safe distance.

May 5th came around, my birthday, and my neighbour gave me a Brashs voucher. You can see where this is leading.

I caught the train to Camberwell station with my friend Ben Constance, the giver of said voucher and walked up Burke St to the Brashs store. Ben was from Camberwell Gramma and he was suggesting I pick up the 12th Man and believe me it was tempting, Id heard snippets of Richie Benaud farting... but I knew wehere my voucher was going. Ice-T i told him. I didnt expect him to understand, and he didnt. He wasnt from the same harsh world of Box Hill Tech...He hadnt been in those Metal Workshop rooms and witnessed Year 12's holding aloft flames spewing forth from a welding thingymabob...Had he?

We rolled up tp Brashs, I made the purchase. Did I want a bag? Hell no. I was gunna carry that cassette on the train back home with the cover facing out. A dude with a shotgun placed in his mouth. Through the dangerous hood of Surrey Hills I trudged. Gang warfare all about me. Over the footy oval, dodging mud and scurrying cricket balls...

Seeya Ben.

Im focused now. Noones home. Just me and the tape player.
I put it on. Loud. Fuckin louuuuuuuud!!!!

Unbeknowns to me, mother had walked in with the shopping. Ill never forget it...
I turn around as the Black n Decker is slicing through a 'motherfucker's head'

A packet of Coco Puff's fall to the floor...Gravox close behind...

I look at her. Take that ma - your little boy has grown up and is now keen on slicing motherfuckers up.

But she is strong. And I havent seen this type of shock and rage flowing through my mother's veins since she hurled a brush at my head for burning my neighbours butterfly net...

She walks to the casstte player, pulls out Iceberg, pops it into it's case, grabs me hard around the arm and to the HJ we go.
Back to Brashs, me balling, screaming. Her very very quiet.

We reach Brashs. I aint getting out. She does. She returns.

Tells me, the young man who sold me Iceberg copped an earful and then in true mum fashion, was forgiven and asked what might be a suitable replacement for such violent brutal music.

My tears have stopped. Hope abounds...Sitting quietly beside humiliation...Perhaps she has found some middle ground...Fear of a Black Planet? Straight outtta Compton.....Two Live Crew?

The brashs bag sits between us on the bench-seat as a symbol of compromise that may go onto represent the relationship my mother and I would carry into my later teens. Perhaps I would tell her I tried drugs....that id fallen in love with a girl and was sleeping with her...and she'd be like, make sure youre being safe darling, have a glass of wine with me and enjoy it in moderation...

Whatever lay in that Brashs bag would dictate not only my musical future but my familial relationships in the coming years.

Now he said it was rap honey...and he said alot of kids love it....and he said it's positive rap...

I pulled the bag to my lap.
I reached in. I felt the $8.99 sticker on the top left corner...My heart pounded.

DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.

I never told my mum I started smoking. When she picked me up from parties I would crush gum leaves in my hands to erase the smell unitl I was 18. I told her I thought West Coast Coolers were softdrink. I told her the bottle with the hose stuck in it was a feeding mechanism for my lovebirds.

I took the cassette to my tape player in my room and listened. I new enough to know it didnt carry the same cred as Ice- T.
I told my mum I hated everything about it. I learnt Ice -T off my friends playtime recitals...
" This girl tried to kill me, she didnt use a gun or knife...." I chanted it at skate parks, whilst Ma looked on making sure I kept my Stack Hat on...I was a weird mix of a fairly popular, mostly accepted yet clearly overly parented kid.. My popularity was always on the brink...One visit to my home away from crumbling...

But after church on Sundays Id come home and listen to He's the DJ, Im the Rapper. Id listen and learn.
The hook's sunk themselves into my flesh. The rhymes gripped me until
I no longer hid The Fresh Prince from my family. From anyone..Actually, that's not true. I hid it from everyone...except my family.

I know every fucking word. I dont understand what a single one means. It cradled me when lonely. It lifted me when low. It was a substitute for reality.

It shaped me.

Im glad Ma made me take Iceberg back and exchange it for Will Smith. He's a dick, dont get me wrong, but I mean Ice-T didnt exactly go on to fuck shit up did he?

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