It’s a simple way to start an incredibly powerful article.
Laura Hall has lived a pretty tough life. She had to drop out of college to take a factory job. Yeah, that part doesn’t sound that bad, I guess. But she had to do this just to be able to afford to take care of her husband who was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.
She’d hated hip hop before this. Apparently she hated it so much she used to give her husband the silent treatment when he’d make her listen. But her story is that soon after having to do this, one of her husband’s Mos Def albums came up on the changer, and this is what she says:
“What had once sounded like a muddle of words to me took form and my belief in the message of hip-hop began, and this is what I heard:
All over the world hearts pound with the rhythm
Fear not of men because men must die
Mind over matter and soul before flesh,
Angels hold the pen, keep a record in time
I listened carefully to the entire album and actually heard what Mos Def was saying. I heard his call for self-reliance and his cry for equality. But more than that, the music let me feel the struggle of another person’s life experience.”
I honestly loved reading that. Hip hop managed to reach someone who had been so hostile to it, and managed to do so by relating to a struggle going on in her own life.
Many of us fell in love with hip hop in similar ways. It doesn’t really matter what struggle we faced, what issues we were dealing with. I’m always proud of people who can come out and specifically pinpoint when they got turned onto music.
“Now I like hip-hop more than Adam does. It’s what gets me through my day. Working with the beats helps me move faster, increasing my piece-rate pay by a dollar an hour. My dream is to help those who suffer with mental illness. I want to fight the problems of inaccessible treatment, incarceration, stigma and homelessness all resulting from mental illness. The only problem is that I work in a factory all day, everyday, just to pay for the medications Adam needs to get by.”
If you just want to listen to her read her own essay, click below.[audio:http://download.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/tmm/2008/05/20080522_tmm_05.mp3]