Sometimes We Do it All For Nothing
8Ball is one of the all time great emcees in Hip Hop. He alongside MJG of the legendary group 8Ball And MJG is one of the pioneers of Southern Hip Hop and a legion of rappers and emcees owe their careers to their contributions. Albums such as Comin' Out Hard ,On the Outside Looking In, On Top of The World, Lost, and No More Glory set the standard for The South and to this day many of their hits still are in heavy rotation for millions. 8Ball had this song call "All for Nothing" where he tells a story about the the life of a young black man whose choices ultimately lead to his demise.
This scenario has been and unfortunately still is the reality for many young black men in the United States. The attraction of fast money, loose women and the night life is irresistable to most, including the brother in the rhyme. Eventually, the young man's home is raided by the police and he has to go to prison. Five years later, he comes home and has to adjust to the times and changes in the neighborhood. In addition he has to deal with probation officers, drug tests etc. At the end of the song, he is killed by another brother in an attempted robbery. The hook of the song is "All for nothing, all for nothing, sometimes we do it all for nothing".
The reality is, the song is an accurate depiction of the way many of us humans live. We put ourselves in precarious situations, do and say things we normally would not in the hopes of acquiring wealth, fame, love and acceptance in society. Most of the time we either fall short of the goal or upon reaching said milestone discover that it was not all it was cracked up to be or worth everything you sacrificed for it. In short we spend our lives playing ourselves.
In the Entertainment world, it has been said that many artists have had to commit sexual acts in order to advance their careers. For every A List star you see, can you imagine all of the people who have done these things and NOT get the part, deal or opportunity they tricked for? Imagine the feeling of leaving the hotel, mansion party or studio after defiling yourself. Then ponder the feeling these people had after discovering someone else was selected minutes, hours or days later? And you wonder why there is so much suicide and mysterious deaths in that sector.
There are numerous examples that are far less dramatic but still painful. For many people of color...specifically black people we have been convinced to do a variety of things in order to scratch out a living in America that go against our soul. Things such as dressing and acting professional are NOT what I am referring to. You do not bring a tennis racket to a basketball game. What I am speaking of is reminiscent of the Paul Lawrence Dunbar poem "We Wear the Mask" Below is the poem:
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
Over the years this has taken on many forms. Many of us play golf because it has been said we need to in order to network and advance in the corporate world. I wonder how many of us would play the game if there was no financial incentive? We name our children "safe" names so that they will not be discriminated against. We overpay to live in neighborhoods where we are not welcome and send our children to schools where they face hostile behavior from teachers, administrators and other students.
On an individual level, we do stuff that violates our spirit for a myriad of reasons. Men purchase overpriced vehicles, clothing, watches and jewelry to attract women. Ladies go to events damn near naked, starve, Earl Scheib and Maaco paint their faces and squeeze into girdles to get men. We join organizations for selfish reasons, donate to charity for tax breaks and "marry up" for financial advancement.
What is crazy about of the fronting people do, in the end it's for NOTHING. Despite your great golf swing, "good name" and address, you don't get the job, promotion and end up getting pulled over and shat on by the police in your exclusive neighbor being paid for with your tax dollars. The girl you wanted ends up being boring, materialistic and ends up cheating on you with your unemployed cousin who just got out of jail. The guy you wanted is really no where near as successful you thought he was and is fucking your friend on the low...who is fatter than you. Reaping the whirlwind.
The cure for all of this is for us to find out who WE really are, what WE really want and then go after it. Next purify our intentions. The vast majority of the examples I gave illustrated how piss poor intentions and motives led to that empty feeling. Too many times we do stuff and do not have a firm understanding WHY. We have an idea but no deep understanding of the real reason why we do stuff. For example, why do guys like women with huge boobs and a fat ass? Why do women want Christian Louboutin shoes? The answer is because someone else told you to in most cases! In other words, we live our lives for other people, chasing other people's dreams and judge ourselves by other people's measuring sticks. Then we feel bad when we do not meet these fraud standards created by "fugaze" people with no soul of their own...following someone else.
Do not live your life like a date at an hyper-expensive restaurant you can't afford to dine at. If you do, you will die hungry and broke...down...completely. Discover what it is that you want, find out who YOU are, who you are NOT and what makes you whole. Only YOU can do this. Once this is done, your life will officially begin and the goals you set and hit will have exponentially more meaning. The victories will no longer be hollow and the setbacks will not hurt as much. Whatever these things are to you, figure them out for yourself and live according to what they are.
You may find out you really like women with a flat booty and small boobs, $15 shoes and feel right at home in a one bedroom apartment reading cookbooks and watching Law and Order SUV. You may fall in love with a mechanic or sandwich artist who worships the ground you walk on. On the other hand, you in fact enjoy "the finer things" the trophy spouse and the suburban castle in "The Heights". Upon acquiring them you will enjoy them that much more because these thing truly add meaning and purpose in your life because YOU want them and value them. I beg you reader, DO NOT do it all for nothing.