Regret

I’ve done and said things I regret. We all have. It’s difficult to be our best all the time, especially in the heat of the moment. What can I say about regret?

Regret is an aching sadness that begs for a chance to turn back time. Mistakes are humbling. Take responsibility and make amends. Right your wrongs. Say sorry. Every second going forward is an opportunity to make the present, and possibly the future, better.

You can find the cover to The Fray’s How to Save a Life made by Costantino Carrara here.

 

Tupac

Tupac

Tupac Shakur would have been 40 this week on Monday, June 16. Tupac rapped about social issues as well as violence, sex and alcohol. He changed the rap game. He was an idol, an influence, a role model and his works are an inspiration to many.

My older brothers were fans and blasted his music defiantly loud on their boombox with the detachable speakers, those were the illest back then. I was a young lady who was coming into my own. I rejected chauvinism and hated sexism. I opened my own doors, burped loudly without saying, “excuse me” but still wore skirts with floral print and lipstick. I didn’t let being a girl stop me from loving rap and cars. But I hated rap’s depiction of women, then I heard Tupac’s Keep Ya Head Up, the first lines blew me away:

Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice
I say the darker the flesh, then the deeper the roots
I give a holler to my sisters on welfare
Tupac cares, if don’t nobody else care

 
My interpretation of his lyrics is that here he challenges the media’s portrayal of beauty and the stigma of having dark skin. I am a darker skinned Asian American and here Tupac made me feel beautiful. He follows it up with how he cares about sisters on welfare, another stigma. Poverty is not something to glorify or look down on. It is our society’s way of providing a safety net when times get worse than bad. And if you hit rock bottom and have to succumb to public assistance, feeling all sorts of emotions, Tupac cares. Although I was too young to understand some of the struggles Tupac rapped about in this song, the rest of his lyrics made me fall, hard, for him as an artist. Events in my life that soon followed my discovery of Tupac would make his lyrics real to me.

I was a teenager during the late 90’s and saw a lot of violence in my small, sleepy town in Calfornia’s Central Valley. My mother and I had a rocky relationship and I was quite rebellious in my own ways but kept trouble at bay. I saw the error in others’ actions and learned from their mistakes. Then, my father suddenly passed away when I was 15 and that same year a friend was murdered in a drive by shooting. Things were changing and I was devastated. I didn’t understand why gangs hated each other so much and fought and killed each other over basically nothing. Young girls where having babies and dropping out of school. I dreamt of more for my life. I wanted to escape the terror and problems and live a big and fun life in the city. Tupac’s music was escapism for me. I’d listen to Life Goes On, Me Against the World, Ambitionz Az a Ridah and Starin’ Through my Rearview. His lyrics expressed my own frustrations and exposed me to social ideals I’d study later in college.

I was a straight-A student and fortunate to have great friends, good teachers and school counselors who guided me. I attended the University of California at Berkeley after high school. UC Berkeley was where the first university course was taught on Tupac in 1997, titled “The Poetry and History of Tupac Shakur” taught by Arvand Elihu.

I can’t analyze every song lyric in this blog post so I invite you to take a listen for yourself, if you aren’t already a fan. Tupac’s achievements in his short 25 years remind me to strive everyday. His songs unite us and remind us that everyone’s struggle is different. There will never be another rapper like Tupac Shakur. Tupac Shakur is the best rapper of all time. May he rest in peace.

American Lovers

My American boy
Tall, dark and handsome
I play with you like a toy

I love you so much
And I’ll tell you why
If you sit down
And have a piece of my apple pie

Close your eyes and see
You’re just like me
We want to be free
And run wild like the wind
To be ourselves
And not have to pretend

To exercise the choice
To choose love over hate
To tell the old prejudice to
Get up to date

You and I are so alike
When you smile I laugh
When I’m sad you cry

My American girl
Sweet, smart and living next door
Through rose-colored lenses,
How different you see the world

I love you so much
And I’ll tell you why
If you open your door
And let me come inside

Close your eyes and see
You’re just like me
We work hard and strive
To be the best we can be

To be faithful and true
To show our true colors
Red, white and blue

To exercise the right
Of free speech and religion
To hell with the state
It’s love we believe in

You and I are so alike
When you speak I listen
When I’m wronged
You seek to make it right

Love is our song
Love is our fate
We’ll love each other forever
It’s our bond
We’re soul mates

Star-crossed lovers
It’s just us against the world
But we’ve got each other
American Boy and American Girl