Gettin’ Grown

I wonder if anybody else has this problem I’m driving down the street listening to Youngbloodz "Damn", a musical masterpiece in my mind, at extraordinarily loud levels. After all, this song is just perfect for riding down the block and knocking pictures off a wall. I’m cruising along, then I notice the street light turns […]

I wonder if anybody else has this problem

I’m driving down the street listening to Youngbloodz "Damn", a musical masterpiece in my mind, at extraordinarily loud levels. After all, this song is just perfect for riding down the block and knocking pictures off a wall. I’m cruising along, then I notice the street light turns from green to yellow to red. So I start to slow down and then do the unthinkable…

…I turn the volume down.

I often find myself looking around at the cars around me not wanting to force my music upon them, almost as if I’m ashamed at what I’m listening to. I look for impressionable young kids in the cars or elderly people who might have a heart attack or conniption if they hear Lil Jon scream "YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAH" too loudly. I usually only don’t bother to change the volume when the cars surrounding me look like they are being driven by college students or people that might jack me given the right opportunity. This makes me wonder…

When did I actually start to care? I literally care about my music nowadays. Youngbloodz don’t give a damn, but you know what? I do. And this brings about my biggest fear.

I’m becoming an old head in a young head’s game.

People say when you get older you tend to get more conservative. Well, I used to laugh at those people and say, "Ain’t nobody gonna make me change my ways.” If I want to listen to music as loud as I want to at 4am, then it shall be heard at 4am. You know, typical rebellious stuff. And it turns out, nobody made me change up anything…it was all me. Truthfully, I’m even respectful of people now when they get in my car to not play anything they might find particularly offensive.

This from a dude whose favorite album is still and will always be NWA’s "EFIL4ZAGGIN."

I remember when I was in high school getting kicked out of neighborhoods for driving through and playing my music extremely loud. When I was told to turn it down and leave…I would turn it up and drive off. The thing is…it’s mostly because of the music I’m listening too. Mary Mary doesn’t really lend itself to being played at the highest decibel level you have, nor does Frank Sinatra. Linkin Park does…but you’ll mess around and go deaf listening to that too loud. The only music that tends to lend itself to overly loud consumption is…(drum roll please) hip-hop, which is where we often get in trouble, because really, hip-hop is what we do.

This phenomenon bleeds into other areas as well. You just can’t go out with your friends anymore when they all look like they only shop at Banana Republic and the Gap and you look like you shop at AnyGhetto Outfitters, USA or stepped right off a rap video shoot. Happy hour used to be that time when I’d get back to back episodes of A Different World while drinking Kool-Aid…now its an after work stop where I have to be dressed appropriately.

This scares me. It’s like I’m getting to old to dress how I want to dress and now I have to start dressing how people who are my age are supposed to dress. For the record, I’m only 25, but the problem comes in when your peers are all these people with degrees and are attempting to make their way in professional society. Professionals tend to "act" a little bit differently. Especially black professionals. It’s almost as if a lot "forget where they come from." (*gasp*) Not that I don’t understand, there does tend to be a different set of rules. I just haven’t let them change me yet…too much.

And it affects nearly everybody in the hip-hop generation, male and female.

When Tanisha was 18, she didn’t care who saw her drop it like it was hot. Hell, she probably dropped it like it was armageddon. But now she’s 25 and cares about what people see and think. This is a problem facing a lot of us young urban "professionals" nowadays. The gap between what we used to do and what we are now supposed to do. We tend to think that folks who act a donkey on the dance floor now need to grow up…and further, my peers tend to not even go to the kind of places anymore where people would drop it like its hot. And it gets even crazier to think about age 30. Can I dress the way I do now…AT ALL???

I’m not a rapper. Or a ball player. This means that people won’t look at me and not care what I have on, or how loud I play my music. Not sure if its a testament to the lack of intelligent credibility we give these people, but we expect them to do things like that. You know, wear bandanas with tuxedos and only listen to 50 Cent…on the way to church. And yet if I do it, people are really going to be looking at me crazy.

Thing is…maybe I’m making this up. Potentially, nobody cares. So why do I care so damn much?? Why is it that now I really pay attention to how loud I’m playing my music and who might be able to hear it…or go out of my way to make sure I’m dressed appropriately for any occasion???

Luckily Jay-Z said, "I don’t wear jersey’s I’m 30 plus/give me a fresh pair of jeans, n**** button-ups…", cuz at least then young males started rocking more (and I hate this term) "grown and sexy" apparel, like I’m supposed to do. I’m just interested in knowing why the hell I care so much now. Why do I worry about being offensive to other people and respecting other people’s space? What changed for me on the inside…is it because I stopped watching BET?? I mean I still listen to the same music, curse as much, and wear the same clothes. I just changed up the way I do those things.

I listen to the same music in the car, just not as loudly when other people are around, try not to curse around people who don’t curse, and try to dress a little more age appropriate. And you know what…it’s irritating! And I still want to know why I developed this God forsaken social conscience??? Is it only because I’m getting older or am I just holding on to my youth???

Shoot, I even find some teenagers nowadays to be outright annoying and ignorant. I often think to myself…"why won’t these little bastards act like they got some sense??" And I know I didn’t care when I was at that age. But now, I care.


And why didn’t Jadakiss mention this in his song…oh, I forgot, he’s a rapper.

He doesn’t have to.

Panama Jackson is a freelance writer in Washington, DC, and can be reached at, and blogs at