I write a lot of letters now – I have for the past month of so. I haven’t sent any of them, so none of the intended audiences have actually read them yet. Maybe one day. But today, I need to write one to you.
You never met me when you were alive. You died when I was still real young, too young to even know who you were or that you’d been killed. But I found out about you at the end of middle school, beginning of high school. I heard “Changes” one night, and I was immediately enthralled with your work. No one else in my life was ever big into your work like I was. A few of my friends liked some of your songs, but I always subjected them to much more than they wanted. It’s all good though haha. I used to listen to you constantly, day and night (which is the name of a great song by Kid Cudi, you should check it out if you can. You’d really like him).
A lot of people didn’t get why I was so into your music. They’d assume because we’re different races that it wasn’t meant for me, that I couldn’t relate to it in any way. Fuck that. I hate how everyone has to bring race into it, like I can’t just be a fan of the music. It’s stupid, but people love to talk about what they don’t understand. But I understood you – I dissected your life. This one dude wrote a book about your life and breaks down different motifs from your work in it, and it has a whole biography about your life. He talks about how your life influenced who you were as a person and an artist. As I learned more about you, I related to you. I think a big part of it is us both being creative people. Haha, I actually did a project on you my senior year in high school for my creative writing class. We had to talk about an author or some kind of artist – either because we found you influential, or inspirational. I can’t remember which. So obviously I picked you – it was a lot more interesting to read about your life and play your music for the class than to read a bunch of books by an author. A lot of them have boring lives, honestly. Stephen King’s is really crazy, but sad too.
I’m sorry life was so rough for you. Sometimes awful shit that shouldn’t have ever happened does. Things get messed up, and then the rest of your life is crooked. It can happen to anyone. But you really made the best out of it – you started out with only your heart, and look at how far you got! Like, it’s absolutely crazy how much you made out of absolutely nothing. You should be proud! Life beat you down again and again and you never stopped fighting back.
You left so young though, and I’m so sorry man. That really sucks, it’s so sad when anyone that young goes. It happens so much more often than it should, and you shouldn’t have gone out like that. But at the same time, you always knew. They say you talked about death a lot, almost constantly. They all think you knew, that you were prophetic about it.
I kinda thought that, but never too strongly. Today I was watching a clip from a documentary they made about you (there’s a few actually, some are pretty good) and someone – I think your aunt? It doesn’t look like your mom – she says that when she sees the last picture of you alive, the one of you sitting in the car right before you got hit, she sees your blank expression and knows that you knew, and that she just hopes you weren’t scared. And I looked at the picture, and she’s right. You can see it in your eyes, it’s not quite sadness but it’s close. If you were scared it’s okay, no one blames you.
I have to admit, I haven’t been listening to you a lot lately. I haven’t been listening to any hip-hop or rap music lately actually, only in the car because they’re the only CDs I have. But today when I saw the date for the first time, I remembered today was the day. I immediately put on Until the End of Time. It’s one of my favorite songs ever. Your verse on “Dying to Live” is definitely my favorite verse though. Then I put on God Bless the Dead, and then Thugz Mansion, and then Life Goes On, and at that point I realized you definitely rap about death a lot haha. You’re able to pull it off though, it doesn’t get repetitive or annoying.
Listening to you today though, I thought about all the times I’d listened to you before. I thought about the videos I watched online of you being interviewed, your poetry and your life. I thought about all the things I learned from you. Honestly, not all of it was good. You had your darkside in life, and at times you lost your way. I know how that is – I’m actually just getting back to who I am. I lost my way, but I learned that my brightside is better than my darkside – so I’m eliminating it. I learned that from looking at you.
I learned that life can get cut short any day, at any time. That just because I expect to be here for years and years doesn’t mean I will definitely will be. And it made me think, “If I die when I’m 25, where am I gonna be at?” You taught me that I need to appreciate every minute I’m still breathing, while I still can. One day it’s all going to be gone. You taught me to accomplish what I need to now, not later. There might not be a later, and then I’m out of the game with nothing. No love, no work, no legacy – zippo. I won’t let that happen.
When you were still here, you once said “I may not change the world, but I guarantee I’m going to spark the mind that does”.
You did both. Thank you.
Hope you found peace,