Hey all! I had a few advantages as a teenager but none bigger than having a car immediately after getting my driver’s license. My older sister had previously owned this little blue Ford Escort with gold stripes and a sporty rear window louver on it. When she got married and moved away the car stayed home thus a spare car in the driveway for me to have and hold from driver’s license day forward. So three months after my 16th birthday I was given the key to the car and within 6 months I’d made it completely mine. Included in the Skrap overhaul was: blue and white soccer ball hanging from the rear view mirror, manly scented air freshener, a picture of this girl from the church choir I was dating on the visor and, of course, a new stereo complete with new amplifier and two brand new 10” woofers in the back. Now, because I was on a teenage budget, I let one of my boys from around the way hook up my stereo and speakers which, while cutting costs, meant that my new sound system wasn’t hooked up exactly right. Turns out the car didn’t even need the key to the car in order to listen to the radio; you could just get in and turn on the radio and sit there if you wanted which is not always a good thing.
I have a lovely niece, two actually, but I’ll only talk about the older one here since she’s the one that got me in trouble. My sister had come home for a visit and brought the baby girl with her, at this point my niece is almost 2 and she’s in that “I want to get into everything” mode in her life. Everything was child locked/child proofed/ and otherwise protected against curious toddler fingers. Everything but my car, of course which was unlocked and sitting in the driveway. According to my sister, the baby girl’s favorite thing to do was to sit in the car and stand in the driver’s seat and pretend to drive, all the while making the “vroom vroom” noises on her own. So when she made her way over to her Mema (my mother) and pointed outside and said “car” of course Mom took her outside so she could play in my car. I remember looking out the window smiling at her as she sat in my mother’s lap and gripped the steering wheel mock driving, probably making aggressive car noises along the way, and taking a periodic break from that to bat the decorative soccer ball that I’d etched my jersey number into with black marker only days before. I watched her and my mother in my car for awhile then retired to my room to do what I did as a teenager at the time. A minute or two later I hear the unmistakable rhythmic thumping of a rap beat coming from outside. It could have been from any of the hatchbacks in the neighborhood, there were no less than 30-35 teenagers in the neighborhood at that time which meant that there were about 90-100 total woofers on the block to make the grown ups batty. The bass beats didn’t trail up the street though; they stayed constant, same volume – BOOM…boom boom…BOOM…boom boom – and I think to myself, “oh, that song is hot, I got that one in the car”. I start rapping the lyrics along with the beat from outside. This is about the time when the Two Live Crew was coming into being and racy lyrics were all the rage with them and everybody else; no one is in the room with me so I rattle off the lyrics, under my breath of course, about a prospective male/female relationship.
“I’m the Peter Piper of the 1980’s/Got a long hard [expletive] for all of the ladies/I don’t care if you got three babies/You can work on this [expletive] in my Mercedes…
(booming music abruptly ends but I’m still in the house rapping)
If you wanna [expletive] just let me know/ We can go backstage at the end of the show
(car door slams shut outside)
I’ll look at you, you’ll look at me/With my [expletive] in your hands as you fall to your…”
(Front door violently swings open)
Never once did it occur to me that those curious toddler fingers hit the power button on the stereo while playing in the car and started the cassette that had some of the most vile lyrics ever composed and that the words I was saying while bobbing my head were the same words my niece and mother were listening to in stunning clarity from the brand new woofers that I’d bought earlier that year. Not until she busted in the front door with my niece on her hip and that look on her face.
“Boy! What is that garbage on your stereo?”
“That’s just awful and you know better!”
“Huh?” That’s all I had.
“I’mma tell your Daddy. You better not ever let me hear you listening to that mess again.” Then she walked out the room with my niece clapping her hands muttering a rhythmic tune that I prayed was not Two Live Crew.
Needless to say I got in trouble for that and lost driving privileges for a while all because my adorable little niece wanted to play “Driver” in my car and I was too cheap to have my stereo professionally installed. I never got angry about it because I did get caught out there and the song was pretty dirty but fast forward to my father’s 70th birthday party not long ago.
My parents grew up on what Mom calls “gut bucket blues” which by my determination is just another term for rat nasty words put to music. My father’s birthday party a few months ago featured a CD that was made by a family friend that had some of the vilest lyrics ever. You wanna know the definition of uncomfortable? It’s the sight of your parents and their like-aged friends quoting Clarence Carter lyrics. You know Clarence Carter, he of “I Be Strokin’” fame, who composed this humdinger of a line:
“And it got so good to her, you know what she told me
Let me tell you what she told me, she said:
‘Stroke it Clarence Carter, but don’t stroke so fast
If my stuff ain’t tight enough, you can stick it up my…’ WOO!”
Scream worthy, right? Need a picture of the word “unsettling”? How about your loving, nurturing parents and their friends patting their feet to Theodis Ealey. Not familiar with Mr. Ealey? Well, allow me to introduce you to some of his work in the lyrics below:
“She said Theodis you need to know
That you can lick it/And you can stroke it
And you can kiss it/And you can eat it
But you ain’t done a dog gone thing until you stand up in it…” –“Stand Up In It”
Now I’m not even gonna get into other joints like “Banana In Your Fruit Basket” by Bo Carter, “Snatch and Grab It” by Julia Lee, or “I Want A Bowlegged Woman” by Bull Moose Jackson as I think my point is made. And while I know I can’t get that week of restriction back I will simply say, Mom and Dad, you guys were WRONG! You are hereby on punishment, no leaving the house unless it’s to Church or the grocery store. Of course that’s the only place those two go anyway so I still lose.
But to all of you that were told that our music was “bad” or “wrong” or “immoral” feel free to bring up any of those songs up there. Chances are, they will blush and walk away and you won’t hear that argument ever again.
~thanks for reading 🙂
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