"Diamonds & Wood" is an ongoing series in which music critic Shea Serrano breaks down the 5 hip-hop tracks you need to hear this week.
Dudes, this week I present to you an unprecedented, unexpected gift of mammoth proportion.
Some back info, first: I do not have a vagina. That is fact. I guess I'm glad most of the time that that's the case (it seems like a lot of upkeep and I'm really bad at upkeep so if I had one it'd likely be unappetizing—there'd probably be sticky coins and AAA batteries and shit in there), but I'm always disappointed that that's not the case when I think about what it is like to be a woman.
I have an idea what it's like—several ideas, even—but it's all speculative. And it can only ever be that way. I can't know what it's like to be a woman any more than I can know what it's like to be a vampire or Blake Griffin's dong (pretty amazing, I'd guess). I can ask and I can observe, but I can never REALLY know. Which is why these seventeen bundles of thought below are the center of the universe.
Some back info for the back info, then: In just a few weeks, my sons will begin real, actual school. I am (80 percent) excited about this because I am (80 percent) sure they're going to be successful—they are not fat and are not noticeably weird looking and are not dumb so they're pretty much made for the game. My wife, though, is distraught. And that makes sense.
What began as a six-month leave of absence from work when they were born stretched into permanent stay-at-home status for her as my writing career blossomed and became enough to subsidize the income we lost by her not returning. So for the past five years, her life has been the family. Them going to school is a major shift and she is considering the potential outcomes more than anyone. (Generally, the boys and I occupy our time by wrestling or playing Chase Hawk, a game where I pretend to be a blood-lusty hawk and chase them around the house CAW-ing like a goddamn maniac.)
Her mind is turning flips around itself. And that's how we get to the unprecedented, unexpected gift of mammoth proportion.
Earlier this week, around 4 a.m. or so, I heard her clicking away on the keyboard of her laptop while in bed next to me. I didn't disturb her or move or even breathe because I don't know why, but in the morning I woke up to an email from her explaining everything she'd been thinking about. To paraphrase, the message said that for five minutes she typed all the things in her head that her fingers could catch, that it was pasted below in question form, that it was all about the boys going to school, that that that.
It was an occasionally funny, occasionally heartbreaking, moving piece of information that recalibrated my existence. So, with her permission because I like you readers and all, but fuck you if you think I'm getting in trouble for you, they are pasted below, unedited and unflinching.
It's the closest I'll be to having a vagina (because I don't have one, remember), and that's beyond beyondness.
Any contributions I have are italicized:
Thoughts on Kindergarten
1. What if they hate it?
2. What if one boy gets the best teacher and the other gets the worst teacher?
3. What if someone picks on them the first week?
4. What if I end up murdering a child that picked on them during the first week?
5. While I'm in jail, will they have to ride the bus to school? They're too tiny to ride the bus to school!!!!!!!
6. What if they develop an unrequited kindergarten love?
7. I will stab that bitch.
8. Ugh. Back in jail. While I'm there, who's gonna make their lunch? Will they
remember to use the heart-shaped cookie cutter? And that Boy A only likes Chili Cheese
Fritos, not Original? And that he calls them "Combos" instead of "Fritos"?
9. What the eff am I gonna do with my life now?
10.Why didn't I mentally prepare myself for this months ago?
11. Why does this have to happen? Can I please just have one more year? Who am I even talking to?
12. Why is everyone moving on to such exciting endeavors - starting school (the boys), writing things (me), graduating from womb to world (Boy C, who will be born in November), while I stand here washing the same goddamn spoon over and over again?
13. How long before none of these folks need me for anything anymore?
14. Why didn't I just go to graduate school when I had the chance?
15. SHIT! I didn't order the boys' school supplies. I missed the deadline while I was in the hospital. Why does my cervix have to ruin EVERYTHING? (Her cervix gave way last pregnancy and the boys were nearly birthed around the four month mark. She spent the next four months lying in a bed with a needle in her leg that fed her medicine to keep her uterus calm.)
16. I've heard mention of Chuck E. Cheese twice in the last 12 hours. Should I take the
boys to Chuck E. Cheese tomorrow? What does the E. stand for? Everett? Earl? Edward?
17. Fuck it, I'm going to Chuck E. Cheese.
I mean. Vaginas go hard in the paint, son.
1. Rick Ross, "3 Kings," featuring (a lazy) Dr. Dre and (a possibly drunk) Jay-Z
If you have a song, and on that song you have Jay-Z, and on that song that you have that has Jay-Z on it, Jay-Z, at any point, pretends to be a motorcycle, well then that's the best thing of all.
Note: This song earned its way on here because if you're going to engage in hip-hop conversation this weekend, you absolutely need to be familiar with it. That's one way to get in here. The other way…
2. Kendrick Lamar, "Swimming Pools"
…is to just be GODDAMN UNDENIABLY GREAT. Lamar actually had one of the year's best hip-hop projects last year (Section 80) so this, this gargantuan cockpunch of ethereal menace and melodramatic melody, wasn't altogether unexpected. BUT STILL. Week's best single. Easy.
3. Nas, Good Life
Not an MP3, obvs. You get it though. It's God's Son. And not the shitty version, the good version. You're about to be beat over the head with THE KING'S BACK/REDEMPTION story angles for the next three months. Have fun.
4. Danny Brown, "Molly Ringwald"
This song is cool for a lot of reasons (it's big and aggressive and Brown says the words "goat" and "pussy" and "Cher" in a six second span), but it's funny for one: in it Brown accidentally makes everyone realize that he's Thin Rick Ross. And that's pretty aces. Swear to god, if Rick Ross were 200 pounds lighter he'd be a furymonster.
Also, what if all the skinny rappers turned fat and all the fat rappers turned skinny? I'm saying, how ill would Fat Jay-Z be? Or Fat Drake? His sing-song tomfoolery would reach heavenly levels of meta-sadness.
5. 8Ball, "Lucky's Theme Song"
Send you into the weekend with some proper Southern funk. Not especially upbeat or moving, but just a great bit of storytelling, and really that's all you need sometimes.
Shea Serrano is a writer living in Houston, TX. His work has appeared in the Houston Press, LA Weekly, Village Voice, XXL, The Source, Grantland and more. You can follow him on Twitter here.