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The Perfect Verse Over a Tight Beat; Two Things That Hip Hop Taught Me

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Hip Hop, Photography, and Passion’s Story Telling

Hip Hop.. was set out in the dark!! Let’s go back to the period of 1985 to 1995. It was filled with discovery, DJ’ing, break dancing and battle rhymes! If you ask any rapper from that era about who was on their list of top five BEST rappers, I would bet you 16 bars (look it up) that the numbers 2 thru 5 would vary between about 20 different rappers. The part to pay special attention to would be the #1 spot; I bet each rapper would say himself/herself. Yes, every rapper thought (and I dare say STILL thinks) that he/she was/is the BEST rapper alive. Outside of the visual arrogance, there’s a lesson I learned from this.

1. Hip Hop taught me that I’m the BEST. It was clear that some of those artists weren’t the best, yet that didn’t matter because the passion that each had told a different story. It’s not completely about being the actual best, it’s more about having the confidence and passion to become the best. I love that message. What story is YOUR passion telling you? My passion says “Gee James, you are #1. You are the best.” I believe it. And honestly, although I have a ways to go in many areas concerning photography, my passion is on 100. It definitely takes more than just passion to be a success or an expert in any field, but without it, success will elude many of us. My mama told me to speak life into my existence; hip hop just reaffirmed that. Speak life. Then work that life. I spoke that life back when I had a point-and-shoot camera and also when I got my first advance-amateur kit. I spoke it when I thought shutter speed had something to do with room temperature and when I couldn’t spell ISO. I didn’t exactly know what I was doing then, … but it didn’t matter. I knew my story. I worked that story.

The pictures: I took these pictures yesterday (9.30.12) of one of my friends – isn’t she pretty!?. I routinely challenge myself in writing and I’m starting to do this more in my photography. I wanted to switch things up yesterday and decided to just grab my camera and see if I could create some magic – fortunately, a friend was down! I gave myself 15 minutes and didn’t research a location. We just picked a random spot and decided to look for art…. to make art… to create something from nothing. I learned this from Hip Hop.

2. Hip Hop taught me that Life is Art. I can’t really say that I learned this from any one rapper. I think many of the early stories of rappers had a similar theme: make lemonade from lemons. That’s art to me. Taking that a step farther, you could say that many made art from hardships and challenged lives. There’s a passion… a testimony…  that you’ll hear concerning home ownership from a homeless person that you’ll never get from those who’ve lived in a nice home all of their lives. I think that’s one of the reasons that Hip Hop drew me and so many others in initially. That’s what I want to give others.

The practical side of my ‘challenge’ is that there will come a time (again) where I only have 15 minutes to get great pictures. I may not be able to research and choose a beautiful location as I like to do. And circumstances may be out of my control and there may be no time to plan the poses and scenes. Hopefully during those times, I’ll remember that Hip Hop helped prepare me for situations like this – to make lemonade from lemons. So on that day, I’ll look to my fear and hesitation and remember the classic lines from rapper Big Daddy Kane:

Dear Fear, today will be “another victory. You can’t get with me. So pick a BC date ‘cause you’re history… Aint no half steppin.”

So simple. Yet powerful. And deep down I’m thinking if I can create art in 15 minutes with no planning,… just imagine the artistic possibilities in ALL areas of life that can happen with appropriate planning, more time for research and equal levels of passion.

What are YOUR possibilities? I dare say they are endless.

More about the pictures: I hope you enjoy my art. I was actually going for a “closed eye” theme (as you see many are that way) but she had some good regular pics and I wanted to share those also. The background wasn’t at all appealing, so I did mostly close ups. She had a great smile IMO and my goal was to capture that in a soft, yet open form. I hope that makes sense.

Today, I’m thankful for the lessons we learn from various places and I’m thankful for life’s perfect verses … over tight passionate beats. God bless.

-Gee James


About gjames432

Just me and just pictures and stories and stories and pictures.


13 thoughts on “The Perfect Verse Over a Tight Beat; Two Things That Hip Hop Taught Me

  1. “although I have a ways to go in many areas concerning photography, my passion is on 100.”

    I believe you!

    Btw…I SO love that photo showing the figure peaking behind the leaf (the b/w). Creative…I like!

    Posted by Sharon D (@SharonfromNC) | October 1, 2012, 9:47 am
    • Thanks for your kind words Sharon! I think I have a love/hate relationship with that one eye picture. lol It’s such an art to it.. and one minute I like it and the next minute, I want to recreate it. Thanks for commenting

      Posted by gjames432 | October 1, 2012, 3:38 pm
  2. Good stuff! I’m not a big hip-hop fan but I respect what it has added to the American culture. I blogged about this once.

    By the way, I admire your dedication to your passion! It’s a tough thing to do in a recession when a less creative, more sure thing is a viable option!

    Posted by AWordorThree | October 1, 2012, 12:53 pm
    • From convo today, you’re not the only one who’s “not a fan.” Maybe we can discuss this on your blog! I do need to write more in general. And I’ll check out your blog entry on it.. what’s it called?

      Yes! Thanks for your kind words. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to not have to worry about the lucrativeness of photography much. That is a blessing in itself! Thanks for commenting!

      Posted by gjames432 | October 1, 2012, 3:41 pm
  3. Loving the pics – especially the one of her face behind the tree branc/leaves. Nice!!!

    #1 is so on point. Rap is one of the few art forms/ careers in which it’s totally acceptable for confidence to grow into arrogance. Sometimes I think this presents some problems in other areas, but in terms of believing in yourself, your talents, your drive, etc, rappers have the right attitude. You have to think you’re the best, or at least that the best lies undeveloped within you, if you’re ever going to pull it off. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    Posted by Sheryl's Pearls | October 1, 2012, 12:57 pm
    • Thanks for your comments Sheryl! I agree that the ‘confidence’ can easily present problems for many of us. Not only is it “I’m good,”… but it’s “I’m better than YOU.” That’s funny and so unique to me. I will say that parts of it, although maybe out of the balance I want for my life… is helpful as we agreed. I need to be reminded that I’m wonderfully made at times also! You continually do that for me and for it, I’m grateful. Thanks for commenting!

      Posted by gjames432 | October 1, 2012, 3:43 pm
  4. I’m so glad you learned something from hip hop. The pics are really cool. Way to push yourself.

    Sooo, your blog is totally not about me. It’s about your experience with hip hop which was a great one. But I have to say, I was a REAL hip hop head growing up. I free-styled, had a group, and argued for hours about who was the best rapper around. And I surely didn’t learn ANY of the lessons you did from hip hop.

    Perhaps because I’m a woman I had a totally different perspective. I learned that “b–ches were nothing but sl-ts and h-es” (real song), that men giving their hearts to women would “never happen [because they are] forever mackin” (real song), and that to be beautiful you had to have “Indian hair, Chinese eyes and a black girl a–” (real song), these were among other choice items and directives to drop and shake things. Don’t get me wrong, I also got some positives like “Ladies First”. But then the same female rappers would show up in male rappers videos, so as a little kid I was really confused. Especially with Destiny’s Child right after “Independent women” showed up in a Nas video talking about “you oweee me something.” So to me, the rappers claiming to be the best were really at my (and a lot of women’s) expense. Moreover, with the common theme of “my h–, my dough, my ice, my life” (not a real song), I quit seeking meaning in the music after Lauryn Hill exited.

    Posted by A. | October 1, 2012, 2:03 pm
    • Miss A! Thanks for the comment and the thoughts! I appreciate your kind words.

      I will agree that Hip Hop hasn’t always presented positive messages. I’m happy that you were able to recognize it and then be able to decide what you wanted to accept as truth for your life. That’s something that I learned at different points in my life and something I continually need to be reminded of. Just as with anything, the pros and cons need to be evaluated and an appropriate plan put in place. I’m excited not only for your ability to decide, but also that I know you are helping others make the best decisions for their own lives. That’s what life’s about to me.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Posted by gjames432 | October 1, 2012, 3:46 pm
  5. I am sooooo in agreement with you. Everything in life we put our hands to is driven by something. Our life shapes who we are, how we see things and what we speak into existence. Its funny you made that quote… as I was reading I had Big Daddy Kane in my head “Ain’t no half Steppin” before I read the quote. Keep doing great things and seeing through a lense your sense of perception.

    Posted by Yeni Makinde | October 1, 2012, 2:18 pm
    • Yeni! Thanks for your kind words and for the agreement. I love this –> “Our life shapes who we are, how we see things and what we speak into existence.” You nailed it. I believe that in order to change our lives, we’ll have to evaluate the things we see and what we speak. I try to remind myself of that and make the best decisions. It’s a challenge but doable for sure.

      Thanks for the support and the comment!

      Posted by gjames432 | October 1, 2012, 3:48 pm
  6. I appreciate your positive spin on hip-hop Gee! Nice pictures too. I enjoy all the dimple shots 😉

    Posted by A. Smith | October 1, 2012, 3:46 pm
  7. You really do a great job of capturing Miss A’s essence, her beauty, smile, and love for life– her personality shines through these fam. Round of applause sir, especially in the B/W pix, where the balance of light and just enough blurred background, brings out those dimples!

    Posted by Drew | October 2, 2012, 10:24 am

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