"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.
I had a stalker once. Or, I guess maybe I still do and he just got better at it. I don’t know.
Sometime last year, I started getting some especially nefarious remarks left in the comment sections of stuff I was writing. Now, insane comments weren’t something that was unfamiliar to me. It’s just part of existing on the Internet, I think. The best instance: After I made a joke about boy band One Direction in a weekly column where I talk about why songs suck, my Twitter mentions went yo-yo with threats from teenage white girls, a premise made 1000x funnier because nearly all of them thought I was a girl—it was a bunch of “I’m gonna slap the shit out of this Shea bitch when I find her!!! Who does she think she is!?!?!” type of stuff. I think I made somewhere around 200 “I hope you get pregnant next year” jokes to them because I’m so mature. Anyway, that kinda stuff is the stuff I’m used to. But the ones that I was getting this time around were more than just Internet noise. They were hateful, hateful things.
Shortly thereafter, I started receiving the same sorts of emails coming from the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. They were always just these short, hilariously ain’t-I-scary-ain’t-I-threatening remarks—stuff about my kids dying from cancer or my people I love being raped and whatnot, things like that. I more or less disregarded them entirely, but after I mentioned them in passing to my wife (she is as protective as anyone that has ever lived), I decided to start saving them.
After I’d collected a fair amount, I called the police. (The sender was blocking the IP address so it was impossible for me to tell who they coming from.) An officer came to our house and asked me some questions and so on. (Quick Aside: I kept picturing the officer leaving this gruesome murder scene talking into his walkie talkie like, “Okay, captain. I’m done solving that triple homicide. And I caught that child molester earlier too. Schedule’s clear. What now?” and then someone on the other end going, “Um… oh, go see this guy who says someone is being a meanie to him via the Gmail.” Such is life.) A day or so I later I got a phone call from the police. And I smiled.
The guy that was sending me the messages, it was this toad that went to the same university as me. I’d heard previously through a mutual acquaintance that he didn’t like me very much (apparently, he was in love with my then-girlfriend and now-wife and he’d had aspirations of writing about rap music for money, two things that never came to fruition), but didn’t know it ate at his core the way it apparently did. I sent out a few text messages before I was able to procure his number, after which I tried to call him several times. He never answered. I sent him a text. He responded immediately.
“Hey, so I have a person sending me hateful messages via Gmail and I think it’s you,” was basically what I sent.
“I don’t have time to do that. I’m especially offended that you would accuse me of such a thing,” is basically what he responded.
“Oh. You sure?” is basically what I asked.
“Yes,” is basically what he responded.
“Well, I called the police a few days ago. They’re able to break through those IP blockers pretty easily, I guess. It didn’t take long,” is basically what I sent.
“You’ll never guess whose name they sent me,” is exactly what I followed up with.
He never responded. I sent an email to email@example.com a few minutes later and it said the account was deleted or didn’t exist anymore or whatever. That was that.
I saw him at a bar recently. He didn’t look anymore repugnant than the last time I’d seen him, but he didn’t look the same either. It was more than the fact that his body had betrayed him though (he’d begun trending towards fat, and the baby doll-thin hair he’d possessed prior had fallen out and forced him to adopt a completely shaved cranium). I guess I just felt bad because I had a better understanding of how disappointed he was in the way things turned out for him.
I don’t know. Either way, I did a pretty good job of not hitting him in the head with a bottle.
1. Wiz Khalifa, Cabin Fever 2
Wiz was great and then he was terrible (time has not rendered his album any less creatively offensive) and then he got good again. Download this tape and just be merry.
(Admission: I rented Mac and Devin Go To High School the week that it came out. I pretended to hate it, which was pretty hard to convince anybody of because I watched it a good six times over two days. His turned down smile is just too goddamn charming.)
2. MHz Legacy, “Yellow + Blue,” featuring Blu
Nerd out a bit with this one.
3. Heems, “Soup Boys”
After I’d been out of college for a few years I met a guy named Z. that liked to make “art” that was really just “shit.” It was like he was trying to make everything unappetizing on purpose. Everyone seemed to know this. And I think he knew that everyone knew it. But he never wavered from his “This Is Authentic And You’re Just Not Used To Using Your Emotions Which Is Why You Don’t Understand This And Even If You Do Understand It You’re Dumb Because Emotions Are Manufactured By Children In China And Sent To America For Your Greedy Consumption” stance. If he was a rap group, he’d be Das Racist. Or whatever. Girls liked him. He had really nice, long hair. Sometimes that’s all it takes, I guess.
4. Ludacris, “Rest Of My Life,” featuring David Guetta and Usher
I played this at my house while I worked at the computer. Boy A came downstairs to see what was going on. I asked him if he liked the song. His response, “Daddy, can you just turn that off?” Five-year-olds are not impressed by Ludacris’s sideburns.
5. Snoop Lion, “La La La”
I mean, c’mon.
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.