If you’ve ever tried to go anywhere with more than a couple of Black people, then you probably know how hard it is to be on time. That’s what you call “CP Time”, or Colored People time. My group defied all the odds Sunday night.
We were out of the door and in Marche’s car at 7:04pm exactly. Marche is Amber’s friend, and I just want to warn every American man or woman who drives between New York and New Jersey that she’s out there. With her inconspicuous car and her bright smile you might not think she’s a danger on the highway, but trust me, she is a mad-woman when she’s behind the wheel. I’ll skip the details about the car ride, but you can get the whole story from Brandon’s blog.
The stadium was half-empty when we arrived and claimed our seats. Everyone split up, but I stayed where I was, testing the flash on my camera in dim lighting. One by one, people began filling the first few rows that must have cost a fortune to acquire. Middle-aged Indian and White men brought younger women in to their VIP section. It wasn’t exactly the Black elite I had pictured, which secretly made me a little happy. The best artists are the ones who draw people of all ages, races, and bank accounts.
Lesson 3: “Wait Till I Get My Money Right”…then you can’t tell me nothin’ right? That’s a line from a Kanye West song, and it rings so true.
At 9:12pm the lights cut off, and the crowd hollered louder than anything I think I’ve ever heard. I was stunned when I saw Jay-Z walk out right in front of us. He just breezed right by us and onto the stage closest to our seats, Beyonce’ following behind him by a few seconds. That in itself made me start screaming too. I was just so excited all of a sudden, and I couldn’t help myself. One moment he was there, and the next it was pitch black. Then suddenly, massive images of vicious Rottweiler dogs covered all of the LED light surfaces. Big, mean dogs that were barking. I immediately stopped yelling, and folded my arms tight across my chest. I remembered where I was and why I didn’t want to come in the first place. To be fair, there was a whole ‘Wild and Dangerous Animals/Civil Rights’ theme that later played out, but to keep it 100% Jasmine…that mess was scary.
And now is the perfect time to explain my issue with Jay-Z. Just like the dog images, there is something about particular videos and songs of his that to me, um…lend themselves to the dark side. Now I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and I definitely don’t have time to read internet blogs about cults, but between his dark artistic choices and some comments I’ve heard he’s made regarding Christianity, I just haven’t been a fan in a long time. Plus, why would I want to listen to rap music that doesn’t reflect the positive lifestyle I try to live daily? I am not conformed to this world, but am transformed by the renewing of my mind…and my ipod. However!–stay with me now– I am not above giving people second chances. The speck in my own eye isn’t too large to realize that I was not always the person I am today. A lot of people wrote me off before I matured to the disciplined person who writes this to you, and they shouldn’t have. I wasn’t developed. Maybe Jay-Z is still developing. Maybe one day he will use all of his talents to spew words that do nothing but point people toward a life worth living. And surely we can all see the struggle Kanye West has with his fame. For goodness’ sake, he’s made his career out of telling us about it.
Ok, so I prayed. At a rap concert. It made me feel better, and from that point on I had an absolute blast. At 9:21pm they broke into “Otis”, a huge American flag hanging in the background. The entire audience sang the opening of Sam Cooke’s famous song that they’ve sampled for greatness. I couldn’t help but notice that Jay-Z wore a gigantic cross on his t-shirt, with his and Yeezy’s initials emblazoned on the sides. It was hot, and I just added that shirt to my Christmas list.
Jigga what? Jigga who? Hit song after hit song. I went through my high school years with Jay’s songs, and my college days with Mr. West’s. But it was at 9:43pm that I officially went coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs. “Jesus Walks” came on, and I was so happy I literally cried. A few teeny tiny tears came to the corners of my eyes as I used Brandon’s shoulder to stand on the top of the rail that was in front of us. I just knew security was going to come over, but no one did. The truth is that I don’t even know the words well enough to rap along, but I know what he’s saying. I know that “Flashing Lights” made us all re-think what a blend of rap and a song hook could sound like. I know that I truly had a good time.
At 10:27pm, Kanye West got me to completely forgive Brandon for his earlier comments. He did an extended version of “Runaway”, one of my favorites because of the gorgeous music he scored behind the lyrics. He let the music play, and then started saying things like “If I told you I didn’t like your hair or your shoes…forgive me…’cause I’m an assh–…’cause you always fine.”I suddenly understood that men just say some really dumb things without thinking, and unfortunately not all of them get to make multi-million dollar hit songs out of apologizing.
Lesson 4: FORGIVE. Everybody. No matter what.
TO BE CONTINUED…