Somewhere along the lines during my young punk days, I think I was out back with Greg fucking around with a can of lighter fluid or something and my sister had gotten home or just came outside or whatever the case may be. I remember her making fun of the Lard tape we were listening to and somehow that led to us making fun of the house music that she was into. She must’ve gone back in the house to get something and before I knew it, she was hijacking our radio and popping in a cassette unlike anything I had heard before. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was going to school on the east side of Cleveland, so it wasn’t like I had never heard of rap before, but this was a little different than the stuff I had been exposed to so far. Not to mention that it was like 1989 and I still had that young innocence stuck to me, so the fact that this guy was rapping about getting blow jobs and pimping was fascinating to me.
I started looking for more underground rap after that. I was finding all kinds of stuff and learning a whole new perspective on things. I was also learning what a racist prick my father was and how alot of the stuff he was trying to teach us was bullshit. I started going to visit people with my sister on the east side and I came to find out that even though alot of those neighborhoods look like shit when you drive through, people try to keep the inside nice (for the most part). I was also learning that black families treated me better than my own family did. Everybody was so friendly all the time and weren’t afraid to give each other hugs and kisses. Cousins didn’t get into stupid arguments and hold grudges for years, they could actually hang out with each other even when there was no liquor involved and there was always a genuine sense of FAMILY. This was all foreign to me, but I enjoyed it. I started to understand why rap lyrics said some of the things they did and began to relate.
I had a few friends from the neighborhood who were also starting to get into the rap scene and we all used to hang out at my friend Mike’s house alot. We would drink and go out and cause trouble and trade new underground albums we would find or tape from friends. I remember hearing the Beastie Boys License To Ill album for the first time and thought it was funny that they had the same name as the old punk band I had heard before – little did I know back then that they were the same guys. Once I found out, I couldn’t pay one classless fucker to believe me because the Polywog Stew album was too rare and hard to find and considering there was no internet back then, it wasn’t like I could just whip out my fuckin pager and display the Google results in numerical form on the tiny screen to prove my wild claims.
Anyway, those were the days when my whole life basically went upside down. My sister was sent to a group home for being a ‘delinquent’ (a.k.a. – someone who had no respect for an alcoholic asshole) that my father couldn’t control even with his fists. I couldn’t stand being home, so I would just hang out at Mike’s house most of the time. Not long after my sister was sent away, my father was caught cheating which resulted in our house burning up and my parents getting divorced. I was forced to live with my father and his bitch. She tried so desperately to be a mom to me, it made me fucking ill. One day my father & I were on the phone with my sister and he fell into self-pity and started claiming he wanted to kill himself. I told him he was a coward and he rushed from the other room at me. He stopped at the last minute. *you see, he stopped beating me when I was like 7 or 8 when he was whipping me with the belt and I started laughing as I was crying. I think he figured I would snap and kill him one day, so instead, I had to be tormented with him beating my mother & sister instead and NOT taking that anger out on me. What a mind fuck – thanks for that you rotten bastard* Anyway, I told him that the next time he left the apartment, I was gone. He took my key and my shoes and left to the bar. Mind you, this was winter in Cleveland. So, I threw on as many socks as I could squeeze over each other, called my cousin, told him where I would be walking and set out into the snow just hoping that someone would walk into the apartment and steal everything. Even my stuff. I didn’t care, I just wanted him to lose money that he would rather spend on liquor.
I ended up living with my aunt in North Royalton and I remember only having a few people that I could really call friends out here. I would usually spend every weekend back in the neighborhood with my Cleveland friends and doing shit I shouldn’t have been doing. I would go into more detail, but maybe one day, I’ll write a memoir book instead. I would seek out the grittiest, meanest, most violent music I could find. It was really therapeutic, actually. Music was the only constant that I had back then.
Things fell apart with the girlfriend I had at the time and soon afterward, I stopped going around there. My mother was finally back on her feet and I had left from North Royalton a few months before all that drama happened. Because I separated myself from everyone I cared about (outside of my family), I spent the next several years keeping people at a distance, not allowing myself to care about anyone, treating girls like shit and basically spiraling down the path of self-destruction. I was living a life like a movie. It wasn’t really mine, but I didn’t know how to stop. I didn’t have anyone to show me anything better. I had MC Breed, Compton’s Most Wanted and DJ Quik – not exactly the best of role-models.
After several years of living this dark, twisted life, I started trying to look at more positive things in life. I was listening to more abstract rap like A Tribe Called Quest and The Pharcyde. I started pulling out some old music and reminiscing about friends that I had left behind. I tried to get hold of Sara a few times from when I lived in NR, but I had no idea how to find her. She was key to keeping me sane when everything was falling apart. I ruined that friendship and I knew it, so I wanted to make it right. But alas, there was still no internet and I hadn’t yet learned any bill collection skills of finding people, so my efforts always fell short.
Discouragement led to more ill decisions and one day, I decided that a serious change had to happen and how should I expect to get anything positive out of my life when I haven’t done anything positive to deserve it? That’s when I joined the ARMY. Fuck