I’ll never forget the first time I heard the Beastie Boys. I was 9 years old (just about to turn 10) and my friend Trystan brought his Walkman to school. This was in early 1987, so Walkmans were a very big deal. At recess, we retreated behind the tires to listen to some music. I put the headphones on and he hit ‘play’. I was hooked the moment I heard the opening strains of “She’s Crafty” – it was by far the coolest thing I had ever heard, far cooler than the Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen I had listened to previously. While I had heard of rap, this was the first time I had ever heard any. That was the first time that I had ever felt down, truly down, with something bigger than myself.
As I grew up, hip hop became a lens through which I could view the world. I lived in a very small town where hip hop was known as ‘n***** music’ and the hockey playing fucks used to harass me, but I didn’t care. Hip hop was bigger than me, bigger than my town, and far bigger than the little minds that I once wanted to impress. Hip hop inspired me, a middle class white kid from Saskatchewan, to delve into Dr. Martin Luther King and learn about the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King inspired me to stand up and speak out against what is wrong.