Growing up white with an undying love for R&B, Hip-Hop, and their associated cultures proved interesting. Back in the day, I used to take a lot of shit from both sides of the debate: some black people thought I was fake: trying to steal their heritage and culture. Some white people thought that I wanted to be black or wished I WAS black. I’ve been called a “wigger” by both sides at various times. It used to hurt. I certainly never recall waking up in the morning and either expecting or hoping I would look in the mirror and see black skin looking back at me. I would often question exactly WHY I liked the music I liked and WHY I identified most readily with the culture. The only thing I keep coming back to is those places are where I feel at home. I grew up with my brother and sister listening to Lynard Skynard, Led Zepplin, etc. but I never FELT that music. I never felt at peace in its culture or surroundings. It didn’t feel like me. When I was exposed to R&B first and then Hip-Hop shortly thereafter, it felt right! I can’t describe it any better than to say when I first heard that music and saw the representations of its culture, I felt at home. I felt as though I’d found the soundtrack to my life. To have denied my undying love for those things would’ve been to deny a HUGE part of myself. To me, being anything other than what I was and have become would’ve been fake. It was definitely not an easy road, being a white kid with the tastes I have. You folks know, Hip-Hop was not always viewed the way it is now by mainstream culture. Hip-Hop also was not NEARLY as inclusive as it is now – for good reason. This was a music form started largely by impoverished black folks who were using whatever little means they had to express themselves. This resulted in people borrowing mom’s record player and scratching up some of her records in order to get their feelings out – either by the music itself or by rapping over the music. Given this context, it came as no surprise that by and large, my presence was not wanted nor welcomed. From MY perspective, it seemed as though I became accepted as genuine the more comfortable I became with myself and the more I found truer ways to incorporate my love of Hip-Hop: the language, the clothes, the music, the attitude into the other aspects of me. As I became more comfortable within the trappings of Hip-Hop and with myself in general, I have to believe that shone to those that cared to look. Those that truly knew me knew that I didn’t love Hip-Hop because it had become cool or because I was trying to present a false persona, I loved Hip-Hop PURELY because I loved Hip-Hop. Of course, now I’m so old that I could care less how anyone else views me. I’m sure there are still PLENTY of people who judge me as a “wigger” or a wannabe the first time they hear me speak or the first time we converse about music but I am so comfortable with being me at this point and I love who I’ve become that I honestly feel that’s THEIR loss, not mine. Sorry for the wall of text but this has been on my mind lately and I honestly can’t recall this particular aspect of the love of Hip-Hop culture from a white perspective being discussed. Thanks for reading and BE YOURSELF – WHOEVER that may be!!!!!!!