The Greatest Rapper in the World - Part II
I'm on the sofa in the living room with my laptop and a notepad. I have zero friends. I refresh the MC Nigel MySpace profile again, no change. I sigh and pick the pen back up. The blank page is no muse.
I write, "I keep coming back like a."
I jot down, "Winter." "Postman." "Micromanaging CEO." "Pendulum."
I scratch out the last one, burying the letters in angry, black ink. Kelly walks into the room and passes me a mug.
"Here," she says.
"What is this?"
The Earl Gray is steamy hot, the vapour makes the tip of my nose moist. I drink and suck in too much, too fast.
"Thank you," I say to Kelly.
"Leave your tongue burnt like a cup of hot tea," I write down.
"What are you rapping about?" Kelly asks.
"I don't even know."
"Well, what do all the other rappers rhyme about?"
"About how good they are at rapping, mainly. Plus, raps about making money, about going to clubs, about inhaling marijuana."
"Why do you want to rap about these things?"
"Oh, I don't, you asked what most rappers have in their songs," I say.
I sip the tea again, slower.
"The great rappers, they produce songs that are introspective. Their songs cover overcoming adversity, their relationships with important people in their lives, philosophical reflections, and their opinions on the nature of society and politics. And also they rap about how good they are at rapping."
"Can't you write a rap like that? About something political?"
"Hmmm, like this?" I say.
In the council election,
Can't tell which candidate,
Deserves my selection.
The independents' policies,
Are a vague collection,
None affect me,
It don't even matter,
My ward's a safe seat,
Gonna vote informally,
Write down skeet-skeet, skeet-skeet!"
Kelly waits for me to finish and then snuggles up next to me on the sofa. "I agree with your opinions on the matter," she says, "mostly. But it doesn't sound like something I'd hear on the radio. And I don't think it's going to help us pay the power bill."
"Not even in a radio commercial?"
She shakes her head. "What you're doing doesn't sound like real rap."
"I know. It's hard! What I really need is a beat. Drake had T-Minus producing on Make Me Proud, when he tied the record for most Billboard number ones. I don't even know if T-Minus is a man or a woman, or a group of people. Or some music producing robot."
Kelly pats my head like I'm a puppy who just learned a trick. "Hang in there. Keep trying, I love you."
She leaves me to writing dope rhymes. After grinding out a few couplets I refresh my MySpace profile again. I have one friend request! I'm so excited, my hand is shaking as I move the cursor to read the message in the inbox, imagining who it might be. In my head I'm writing a new rap about my first MySpace friend.
The inbox page loads and I see who it's from. It's Kelly.
I can hear her boiling noodles for lunch in the kitchen.
I click confirm.
After trying to be the world's greatest rapper for four weeks I have enough raps to release a mixtape. It has eight songs on it. Most of the beats are made by me in Fruity Loops. For one track I've sampled Lou Gramm's eighties classic Just Between You And Me, and on another I rapped over The Wire theme (from Season 1), I wasn't really able to keep up with it, but I felt the need to throw it on there for padding.
There is one collaboration on the mixtape, a guest rapper called True Drew adds a verse to one of my songs. I think True Drew is homeless. He struck up a conversation with me in the park next to the railway station after he saw me writing down raps on a bench. He performed a rap for me about Jesus and the Australian Democrats and Sodomy and The People Who Listen To Him Through Electricity Outlets. He also played two upturned paint buckets as drums on the recording for the track My Kelly.
I hold my mixtape launch at an Irish pub which is trying to establish a Wednesday Hip Hop Night. A chalkboard on the sidewalk says "Shook Rhymes. Half Price Jameson." And further down "MC Nigel - 3:30." I'm the first act of the night, which turns out to be a misnomer as the sun is still up and most people are still at work when I appear on stage. I have a small audience. True Drew is there, to the bouncer's displeasure. Kelly is present too, along with several bar staff who are unstacking stools from atop the bar and tabletops. Kelly claps and cheers at the end of each song.
I close my set with Garbage Robot, the penultimate track from my mixtape. It's a song about improving the efficiencies of waste collection by developing robots to automate several menial tasks. A few alcoholics have entered the bar during my set and they applaud at the end of my final song. No one buys a copy of the mixtape though.
"You were great," Kelly says as we drink our complimentary local beer only and watch True Drew on stage, grumbling about time travellers into his whiskey glass instead of the microphone.
"You were great too," I reply, "a great audience."
"I made you this," she says. She hangs a knitted chain over my neck, a rope of platinum-coloured wool that joins together on my chest in the shape of a capital N. She has cross-stitched red, yellow and blue bling into it.
"$409,997 worth of chain to go," she says.
To Be Continued