BY BEN TANZER
If there is a problem, yo, I’ll resolve it, check out the hook while my DJ revolves it.
It has always been about love, seriously, straight up, love of music, love of words, language, telling stories and making people happy, all up on their feets and loving life. And I do love everyone, even the haters, the liars, the disparagers and those big pimpin’ motherfuckers who will do anything to bring someone down the second they get any kind of props.
Which is why I never got it, I don’t get it and never will. I can’t fathom it really, truthfully, none of it. Some of y’all will say I’m not willing to get it, that the shit is obvious, obvious to everyone but me. But to that I say, why am I a joke? I didn’t kill no ones, I didn’t rape no ones, I didn’t lie and I didn’t steal. I kept it real yo, legit.
So what up?
And please, please don’t tell me it’s about that beat. Because if it is, all y’all can seriously go fuck yourselves and your mothers. It is not the same beat and it never was. You gotta listen more closely and shit. There’s a little bitty change there. Their’s is all ding ding da da ding ding and mine’s goes ding ding da da ding ding ding.
You hear that right? There’s an extra ding there at the end. We changed it. We made it real. We made it our own. And we made it street. We spoke to the people in a language they understood and they believed in us, and they loved us, from New York to the Golden Gate.
That fucking tune was the first number one song by any rapper, anywhere, be they white, black, yellow, striped, fucking green, covered in polka dots, whatever, wherever. And so don’t I deserve some respect for that? Didn’t I earn it, right?
Why’s that so fucking funny to you people? I gots to understand this ‘cause ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how?
Now yo, do I regret shit? ‘Course I do. I never wanted to be this. I never wanted to be Vanilla, vanilla be bland, stupid, nothing. Would you want to be Vanilla?
‘Course you wouldn’t. No one wants that shit. I wanted to be someone. I was someone. Fuck.
And that’s the thing yo. Fuck the Surreal Life. Fuck Gary Coleman. Rest in peace little man. Fuck Debbie Gibson. And fuck Hammer too, sorry bro, big love and all that, but you know what I’m saying here.
Fuck all y’all. I’m trying to keep it real. I want to be real and I want to be the Rob fucking Van Winkle I was meant to be. Cooking MC's like a pound of bacon, the girlies on standby waving just to say hi. Did I stop? Fuck no, I just drove by
Except that I didn’t just drive by. I was never allowed to do that, none of it. You fucking tore me down, all y’all, calling me a thief and an interloper. It was like a high tech lynching and shit.
I mean, look yo, how is Rob Van Winkle’s story any different than that of Clarence Thomas or Jesus fucking Christ? It ain’t, because the story of Rob Van Winkle is a story as old as time itself. An ordinary man from humble beginnings comes along seeking a place in the established order and in turn he is perceived as seeking to shake-up the status quo and so must be brutalized and humiliated by those in power who will do anything and everything possible to punish him for his most lofty of transgressions.
Thing is, I wasn’t trying to shake up shit and I certainly wasn’t trying to transgress nothing. I just wanted to be part of something. I wanted a family and a place I could finally belong. And rap, that was my place and that was my family, so how could I be stealin’ from black music and shamelessly ripping it off when I was black music, living it, breathing it, loving it?
I mean yo, why not just tell me I’m not black or something whack like that. I am as black as Bill Clinton was black, motherfucker. More so. Is being black only about skin color? Is that really the only definition we can embrace at the dawn of this post fucking racial era? Isn’t blackness or whiteness just a social construct anyways and shit? Isn’t this about identity, poverty and violence and broken homes and doing your time on the street? Don’t all that count for something? Isn’t black life experience too?
And let’s talk class yo.
My homeboy William Julius Wilson says the true stain on society as we know it is not that of racism, but classicism, the oppression of the poor, the other, and the outsider so dat those in the 1% be protecting what’s their’s from the 99%. Now ain’t that the real thug life? And ain’t that Rob Van Winkle as wells yo? Hells yes it is.
And let’s be clear, none of this is a plea for more love, though I do love all y’all, seriously. Nor do I sit here today and bemoan the fates. I am good, I am content, and this ain’t no Sisyphisian shit I’m talking here. I am a mans motherfuckers and I take responsibility for my shit, the drugs, the domestic violence, the corn rows, the chin hair, all of it.
That’s me. And it’s on me like white on rice. I get it. But what I also get is that there is another ding in there. The beat’s different, itty bitty different maybe, but different nonetheless, and hearing that difference, it’s the whole thing yo, my past, my future, my now. It means that I’m real to the tee, to the extreme, and so I am asking you to respect it and believe in Rob Van Winkle, BMX racer, rapper, black man and house remodeler.
I ain’t no fucking joke. I’m real. I rock the mic like a vandal. I’ll wax a chump like a candle. And if you cannot love me for that, at least respect me for it.