Running on Hip-Hop

I love hip-hop music. Ever since I was young, the beats, clever lyrics, and artful storytelling has created a soundtrack for my life. Through the ups and downs, I have always been able to relate to the ongoing struggle conveyed through this genre, and at times, come to depend on it for motivation. My life, my movement, and my spirit are running on hip-hop.

My childhood came with a lot of questions…

I was a multi-racial (read: not white) kid adopted by a white family. Apparently nothing is more curious than this. Musings like: ‘Where did I come from?’ ‘Why do people keep asking why I look different than my parents?’ ‘Why do people care?’ rolled around in my head. I was bombarded with questions from all different directions; from schoolmates to strangers on the street…’Which one of my parents had jungle fever?’ ‘What am I mixed with?’ ‘Who are my real parents?’ ‘Why don’t I act black?’ ‘How come I act so white?’

It seemed everyone had a different expectation for me and felt entitled to unsolicited inquiries about my personal life.

It is vexing. Luckily, my brilliant parents had the wisdom to enlighten me on my situation. They said, “People will recognize quickly that you are different. That you look different and that our family is different…and they will have questions. We are here to help you whenever they arise, but how you answer is up to you.” As a kindergarten student, I didn’t fully understand what they meant, but in time, these words have come to serve me well.

This is not a post about race, it’s a post about motivation through music.

What mom and dad were trying to convey to me is that I define myself. People throw shade at things they don’t understand, but I need not subscribe to the opinions of others. People will tell you aren’t ready or that its impossible, but what do they know? My values, dreams, accomplishments, and behavior determine my character and my path in life.

F*ck the haters. Don’t listen when people say “you can’t”. Do YOU. Don’t let your last name or your neighborhood limit your aspirations. Go make yourself, because you are the only one who can. Don’t let the fear of others stifle your dreams.

So how does this relate to my love for hip-hop music?

There are many recurring themes in hip-hop music; the strongest among them is that adversity is certain in life, BUT that we have the power within us to rise above.

Not every hip-hop song is about struggling through conflict or overcoming negativity, but many of them are. Some hip-hop artists are like field reporters that share up-to-the-minute details about life in various marginalized populations. Other artists relate through comedy, or stories from their past. In its early days, hip-hop music offered a glimpse into a life most Americans knew nothing about.

In addition to keeping it real, I think hip-hop music encourages us to make the very best of our situation.

We can pause where we are, not only to celebrate how far we have come, but also to refocus on our path forward. Hip hop music helps me realize that I am enough. I am a dynamic human, and while I may not be perfect, I have some damn fine qualities. It helps me to remember exactly where I came from and appreciate the effort I have invested in myself to get here, now. Most of all, it motivates me to keep pushing forward.

My Post (2).jpgMy Post (2).jpg

Regardless of who’s featured on the track, this message of self-reliance and staying true to yourself despite challenges and doubt can be applied to all areas of life. Whether it’s the soundtrack to your training plan, your party playlist, or your get-pumped-on-the-way-to-work song, everyone has “their jam”. You know, that song or album that makes you feel like you can take on the world. You love it! And I love it for you. Who doesn’t need to remember that they are, indeed, totally Grade-A, shiny, diamond badass?

At the end of the day, hip-hop music resonates with me because I am human and I struggle.

I want to be more resilient; maybe even poke a little fun at the lessons I have learned along my way. I can use a reminder that I’m not alone and it’s going to be alright. And that’s what hip-hop music does for me.

Here are some of my favorite lyrics from Chance the Rapper’s record “All We Got” from the Coloring Book album

Wish I could tell you it’s ready

Tell you it’s ready today

They don’t give nothing away

You gotta fight for your way

And that don’t take nothing away

Cause at the end of the day

Music all we got

Isn’t this all we got?

So we might as well give it all we got

Music all we got

running on hip-hop,


just for fun

The Depth of My Love

Music has long been an important part of my life. It’s hard to pinpoint when the love first hit, but there are two moments that stick out most…I was about five years old when my grandfather gave me this itty bitty AM/FM radio. As a child, I thought I was hot stuff having my own radio! My station of choice? WCVE 88.9 when they were playing classical music.This is not what most kids would want to listen to, but I LOVED it.  A couple of years later during my elementary music class, some musicians from our local symphony came to talk to us about different types of instruments. It was that day that I fell head over heels in love with the violin. I came home and told my parents that I desperately wanted to play it, but I don’t think they quite understood the depth of my love.


In time, my desire to play the violin became a reality.

When middle school electives were to be chosen, please believe that orchestra was my first choice. While other students look forward to the new found freedom of middle school, I was most excited to FINALLY get my hands on a violin. Instruments are expensive, but thankfully the school had a violin available for me to borrow. Over the next few years, I would spend countless hours in class and in my free time learning to master the violin. When things were too easy in our orchestra class, I would fill my time with learning a new instrument. First, it was the viola and then the cello, but none of these could take the place of my one true love.

As I grew older, I hoped I could pass this love of music onto my children…

I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to do it, but I was determined nonetheless. Lucky for me, our local Richmond Symphony helped make this easy. They have a LolliPops series just for kids (and kids at heart) to introduce them to the wonders of the symphony. Each performance is prefaced with an instrument “petting zoo”, activities for the kids, and some general fun for all who attend. I’ve had the privilege of going three times with my oldest (VHP), and she LOVES it. After our last visit to LolliPops, she said the words I had been longing to hear: “Mommy I want to learn to play music too.” I am crying a little bit just writing these words.

So she wants to learn to play an instrument.

As her music-loving mama, who am I to say no? Fortunately, we found the opportunity to try out some music lessons online through Care2Rock. This seemed like a swell option, as we could try things from the comfort of home without scrambling to be somewhere else with squirmy little sister in tow. Before we could book a lesson, however we needed to settle on which instrument to play.  

Whatever will she choose?

When talk of instruments came up, VHP would mention the piano, violin, cello, and trumpet; but none of these options seemed to really excite her. We took a trip to the music store because sometimes it’s better to just get your hands on some instruments to see what you like. There, we learned kids her age (she’s only four) typically begin with the piano, violin, or flute.

After our visit, VHP thought and thought about what she wanted to do. After several days of deliberating, she declared she wanted to play the piano. Not only did she want to play the piano, but she REALLY REALLY wanted to play the piano. So off to facebook I went to get piano recommendations from friends. One friend had all the details on keyboards (if decided to go that route), one had a piano we could have, and another had a keyboard we could borrow. BOOM! Everything was falling into place.

The time has arrived for highly anticipated piano lessons

through Care2Rock. They are done online, but they are interactive. Using a computer with a web-ready camera, much like you would have a Skype call, my daughter will learn to play or sing or read music from the comfort of home. (For a parent, this is AWESOME! No traffic, no childcare arrangements, no stress!) Like most music teachers, many Care2Rock instructors are skilled in teaching multiple instruments (violin, piano, guitar, drums, and many more). We opted for a teacher who was able to teach a few of the instruments that VHP had expressed an initial interest in learning.

How are the lessons going?

My daughter told me it was good and that she liked. In typical kid fashion she hasn’t elaborated much, but being a mom I pressed to know more. She mentioned that she liked her teacher which was a good sign! I asked if there was anything she didn’t like, to which she said, “piano because it’s hard to play.” This sparked a little concern and led me to ask if she wanted to continue learning, and the response was an emphatic yes. Now, whenever she walks into our office she’s ready to start another lesson and thinks it’s readily available since it’s over the computer.

As a mom with musical talents, I believe this is a great way for kids to get started. My daughter is on the younger side, but this virtual music education program is ideal for anyone interested in learning to play an instrument.

Care2Rock is more than just music lessons.

Care2Rock is not just a music education program. Each of the Care2Rock instructors agrees to serve as volunteer music mentors for a child in foster care every week for up to a year. My daughter’s music lesson is not just providing her an incredible hands-on learning experience, but it’s making this same experience accessible to children who really need it.  How cool is this? If you still don’t feel warm and fuzzy inside; first check your pulse and then head over to the Care2Rock success story page and bring your tissues.

Today on The91Rewind, we would like to share this love of music with you and/or your child.

We have partnered with Care2Rock to get you started on your music learning journey. They are giving away a keyboard or guitar to every one of you who participates in the Sounds of Summer Club! Here’s what you get if you participate:

$39/month = 1 lesson for 12 months
$69/month = 2 lessons for 6 months
$99/month = 3 lessons for 3 months
Already have an instrument? Buy 3 lessons and get one free for $96!

Do you have a deep love for music? Do you play an instrument?


*Please be advised this is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own. On The91Rewind, we will never promote a product or service that we would not honestly use or recommend.*