It is truly a tremendous blessing to celebrate another birthday!
Among the many remarkable things that have enriched my life, there is one tradition I've retained for the past twenty-one years. That tradition is starting my birthday with Nas' "Life's A B****" featuring AZ. Nas conveys:
I woke up early on my born day
I'm twenty, it's a blessing
The essence of adolescence
leaves my body now I'm fresh and
My physical frame is celebrated
Cause I made it
One quarter through life
Some God-ly like thing created..
When I started the tradition, I was twenty years old and Nas' bars (lyrics) spoke directly to my spirit. There is no disputing that this song is one of the most stellar lyrical displays in Hip Hop history. How can we be sure of that fact? Easy. A classic has components that reveal themselves as "new" with each listen. Sometimes the something new is the beat, the lyrics, the mood, or a host of other things. Like those who are familiar with Rakim, one can know or be very familiar with the lyrics of a classic Hip Hop song and at different stages in one's life, those very familiar lyrics take on a more unique meaning.
That's what happened as I went for a morning stroll while listening to Nas and AZ. In particular, when AZ spits (says his rhymes):
Keepin this schwepervesent street ghetto essence inside us
Cause it provides us with the proper insight to guide us ...
In years past, the witty linguistics of those bars moved me. "Schwepervesent" - now that's an adjective to remember! Whereas some may casually interpret those bars as an acknowledgement of the value of street smarts; this morning, those bars grabbed my attention with a more potent value. It is true, that whenever you meet someone from Detroit, few moments will pass before they let you know, "I'm from Detroit." My hometown has been maligned, exploited, and misunderstood for some time. However, the experiences growing up there instill its' survivors with an uncanny resilience and unique spiritual fortitude that transcends words. In meeting friends from all over the world, I have also come to learn that a comparable dynamic occurs in others who persevere or endure environmental adversity. But today, AZ's insights prompted a deeper appreciation for the experiences that have shaped the man I've become. With continued blessings, I will maintain my tradition of celebrating my born day with this Hip Hop classic as I am "destined to live this dream for all my peeps who never made it."