"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.
Yesterday, at approximately 11:23 a.m. CST, a skinny boy with shiny hair punched a less skinny boy with less shiny hair in the face twice. (I don't know WHY he did such a thing, I only know THAT he did such a thing.) I was standing, probably, maybe four feet away when it happened. I'd been walking by, but stopped because I'd noticed that the skinny boy, a child I only know obliquely, but am familiar with enough to know that he has a dense anger in his heart, was radiating.
He glared at the less skinny boy, the less skinny boy glared back. Then there was a metaphorical flash. Then there was a literal blur. Then the less skinny boy tried to figure out how he'd been hit twice already before he'd even gotten his hands above his belly button.
For the skinny boy, in that particular instance, assaulting another human was in no way any sort of action beyond itself—it was simply a thing that needed to be done, so he did it. He did the shit out of it. A woman immediately jumped in between them and pulled them apart, a noble act, for certain, but decidedly less treacherous than maybe you're picturing (the less skinny boy wanted precisely zero percent of that fight. I suspect he willed the woman into motion with his brain power). I just stood there, nearly unmoved—if I'm remembering correctly, I don't think my hands even left my pockets. Nothing about the situation seemed particularly extraordinary. There was no blood, no hollering, no nothing. The only evidence that anything had even occurred was a reddened cheek and some vibrating molecules in the air. Still, despite the routineness, and despite the still water in my retinas, there was a flash in my stomach, nuclear fusion that manifested itself into the only emotion my body cared to produce: Envy.
I have punctuated no small number of days these past few months by yelling at strangers, to be sure (which I almost always feel bad about afterwards, also to be sure). But it has been more than five years since my last significant unsanctioned* altercation with another man.
I don't think it's that I enjoy the act of fighting, it's just that the moments rightrightright before are so very excellent. The first time I punched someone that I didn't know (I'd gotten into a tussle or two during school, because that's what everyone does, but those types of fights are nearly ALWAYS with someone that you're familiar with) was in 2000 in, clichéd as it is, a pool hall.
I don't remember why we started arguing, but I do remember that he was wearing overalls with a muscle shirt underneath and that SPM was playing on a jukebox in the background. And I don't remember precisely what he looked like, but I do remember looking up at his face (he was several inches taller) and I do remember realizing that he was going to try to remove my head from my shoulders. And I don't remember exactly what my body felt like at that particular moment, but I do remember that it was a GOOD feeling and I do remember remembering the situation as a net gain shortly after.
And I know, KNOW that the skinny kid with the shiny hair, I know he felt the exact same thing. And I knew, KNEW that I missed that.
But, barring some completely bizarre situation, I also know, KNOW that it'll likely never happen again.
I played chase with my boys yesterday after I got home from work. After I'd caught Boy A, I picked him, tossed him onto my shoulder like a caveman, identified a mud puddle, then pretended I was going to put him in it. He wiggled about and laughed and I smiled and put him down. It was the most menacing thing I've done in the last two weeks.
A lot of the time, being an adult is pretty excellent (I am particularly fond of relations and I am particularly fond of eating Baby Ruth candy bars for dinner), but some of the time, being an adult is FUCKING weak.
I wanna be a skinny kid with shiny hair again.
Shit, I'd settle for being the other one too.
*After my grandmother passed away, I joined an MMA gym, which is a good example of how something can be both a good and a bad idea. The first day there I got choked out several times by an El Salvadorean guy everyone called "El Asesino". Don't fight guys nicknamed "El Asesino".
Something new, but just for this week: Five Songs That'd Work As Prefight Walk-In Music...
1. DMX, "X Is Coming For You"
There are five ways to go when choosing entrance music: You can go (a) SUPER DUPER HYPE, (b) something unexpected and completely WTF-ish, (c) destructively devastatingly ambient, (d) something artsy and clever but not overly so, or (e) something that sacrifices any sort of mood-setting aesthetic for the sake of unfiltered evil. This is that third one.
2.ODB, "Brooklyn Zoo"
Because, I mean, c'mon. (This is that fourth way.)
3. Kelis, "Milkshake"
Dudes, imagine standing in the ring waiting to fight. You're fucking COKED. Your whole body is filled with venom. And then they announce your opponent. And then "Milkshake" comes on as he comes walking out. That fight is over before it ever even starts. Why more fighters haven't tried this, I'll never know*. (This is that second way, obvs.)
*I know: Because it's goddamn ridiculous, is why. Still, I think it'd work at least once. Fingers-crossed some super advanced fighter like Jon "Bones" Jones does this soon.
4. DJ Quik and Kurupt, "Demon's Carol"
This actually came out last year. I don't know how many people Quik and Kurupt murdered to make it. I'd guess it's gotta be somewhere close to 80. (Fifth one.)
5. Mystikal, "Hit Me"
Probably the best song of 2012 that nobody decided to call the best song of 2012. Probably if Mystikal wasn't 44-years-old, I guess.
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.