I was never much of the type for hip-hop. I found it for the more wild of folk, that gangster rollin’ or booty bumpin’ sort of mentality. To be frank, I was on the opposite side of the loose-cannon spectrum. I was a guy who was into indie rock, alternative, house, and lounge jazz, the kind easy for the ears and soothing for the mind.
There was one day, however, when I met Sam. It was in a coffee shop. The sound of Landon Pigg was lightly pouring it way from the roof speaker into the cups of my ears as I browsed with the local Wi-Fi on my white Mac Book Pro. I took a sip of my latte and looked up a bit to observe my surroundings and across from me sat an interesting figure in the glow of the seeping sunlight.
This, I thought, wasn’t much, but she seemed both in and out of place of this hispter cafe. She was in a light blue floral sundress, shining with the sound of a bright violin, and brown laced boots high enough to cover a little bit half of her shins that stomped with the kick of a bass drum. Flowing from her head was a river of deeply curled red hair that rested on the plateaus of her slim shoulders. I could hear the crashing cymbals of the falling water. It was evident that it was dyed, but it bled with the pain and joy of an acoustic guitar. Perhaps the most notable feature that caught my attention though was a mole rousing my eyes to the front of her left cheek, where I knew no sound, only sight.
She was reading a book, 2033, and produced the most adorable smile I had ever seen. She must have been reading the stories about relationships towards the end and I felt tempted to inquire on her opinions but it seemed ridiculous considering the fact that she had two dropping white lines from her earphones plugging her ear drums.
I closed the top of my Mac Book and placed it back into its bag and walked forward, coffee in hand. She looked up from her book and stared me in my eyes still with that smile. I wasn’t sure where to go, but the pull of curiosity in that muted sound pulled me towards her and she looked down back to her book as if already knowing I was making my way closer.
“Hello, that’s a good book you’re reading,” I said pointing at the open pages on the tabletop.
She took off her earphones, flipping back her hair in the process, and cocked up her head towards me and responded with the same smile, “Sorry about that. I couldn’t hear you over the music. What were you saying?”
“I was just saying how good that book you have is.”
“Oh this?” she said with a laugh, “This is a book a friend of mine gave me awhile back. I just got to it. But my name’s Samantha. It’s nice to meet you. I didn’t catch your name. You probably said it while I was still listening to my music.”
There was something about her chuckle at that moment that made me lower my guard. I let my shoulders drop and smiled back, “Oh no, I didn’t! You’re fine haha. My name is Jeremy. It’s nice to meet you too. What were you listening to? I personally find the music here good enough to run without having to turn on my music player unlike other places that just play music from the radio.”
“Oh yeah! Totally! I get so bummed out from always having to hear the same songs again and again! But I was just listening to some old hip-hop tracks that I recently re-downloaded.”
My jaw dropped, metaphorically of course. That would have been rude. But hip-hop? Here? From her? That was the least of my expectations.
“Here, take a listen! I’m sure you’ll find it much more satisfying than this melancholy hipster music they always play here,” she said and handed me one of her plugs.
I was reluctant to take it, but I didn’t want to invoke any hostile feelings from her, and proceeded to place the bud in my ear while preparing for the worst.
She flipped through her player searching for a song and clicked Play. I was surprised. It sounded like jazz, and something familiarly yet unfamiliarity somber from the 70s in the orchestra echoing in the background. This wasn’t hip-hop I thought. There’s no way anyone could be shaking their ass or riding up in a low rider in this kind of music.
“You know, you don’t seem like the type to listen to this kind of stuff,” she said head down while scribbling on a notepad on the table, “but you know, there’s a reason why I love it so much, this hip-hop stuff. It’s because it takes a little bit of everything and puts it together into something. See, like those strings you’re hearing in the background? It’s a sample from Bill Withers, tossed and turned around in different measures to produce a different yet familiar pattern. You don’t find much sound like that these days, it’s why the producer of this song chose it. That beat you’re feeling? That’s a classic breakbeat, reproduced with the sound of a jazz drum kit. And then, to set the vibe all down, there’s that clean guitar overlapping all of it in the bridge with the authenticity of the light screech from sliding down its neck behind it. And these lyrics? They’re not at all what you find on the radio. They’re thought out—puns, metaphors, a vast scale of imagery—the work of artists, true artists who put their knowledge and wit into a physical form in the form of verbal exertion. It’s like the poetry of the streets. All these things, they just come together, you know? It’s why I love it. I mean, I grew up with it, not all of it, but for the parts that I didn’t, I came to add to my pool of appreciation.” She paused and ended her loose speech with her head still down as she doodled away. “I just wanted to share that with you.”
It was inevitable that we dated after that and I began to fall in love with hip-hop just as much as I fell in love with her. It seemed my affinity for all sorts of different genres grew as our love did the more I grew to understand them both. However, my love wasn’t just for the fact that everything about music came together in hip-hop, it was also because everything about her seemed to fall right into it too.