Pieces Of A Man: Road Trips & Quality Time

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I recently, impulsively and spontaneously decided to take a road trip to Virginia to check out some of my family and friends. I decided to take my daughter with me.

Road trips can be tricky with my daughter, so I established the main rule early on. “Don’t ask me, ‘Are we there yet?'” That is my only rule. I told her to load up all her necessary tools to stay engaged. Apple products (iPads, iPods, et cetera), drawing paper, books, and other miscellaneous items to keep her entertained for the 6-7 hours on the road.

We embarked on the trip during the day, a Sunday. Truly, we navigated through beach traffic in New Jersey and Delaware like champions. It all was so enjoyable and guess why? The music.

Since my daughter was born, now pushing a decade, I have been filling her head with different types of music. I did not want her to simply be limited to just R&B and Hip-Hop. For me, that’s boring. So, early on she got to appreciate Santigold, Stiffed (Santigold’s first punk rock group), M.I.A. The Cranberries, Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and many more. In fact, it was a non-rap song from Andre 3000 that first got my daughter to laugh when she was a mere baby.

But, I digress. Thankfully, she has always gravitated to a eclectic music.

The trip started off well and that meant I was listening to only the music I like. The driver dictates what the occupants of the car listen to, but this mantra increasingly gets compromised. So, after a couple hours, she felt like it was a good time to impose her will on the the old school iPod that was jammed full of music. A-HA!

She had her own playlist of joints from Willow Smith to Paula Abdul to Milli Vanilli to Mary Wells. So, we started there. We played a few joints and these were what I consider the kiddie classics, basically safe songs that she’s been listening to for several years. She was good for a minute.

Then, I had to bring it back to my songs, which was equally varied. I played some Gil Scott Heron, which got a strange response to her due to his gruff voice on his last album, I’m New Here. Then I just started to bounce around from random different stuff. Then it happened:

“Are we half way?” she asked as if that wasn’t a violation of the number one rule.

“Don’t even try it,” I replied knowing there were hours left to go.

I made an executive decision.

By switching over to Spotify, I injected new life into the second half of the trip.

The music app that offers an incredible range of music for a modest monthly fee. There we delved into even more music she liked such as CoCo Jones, who I approve of. She also let me know that Selena Gomez and Justin Beiber are played out to her, which shocked me. I also had to let her know that Beebz has crossed over to the dark side and his “Never Say Never” days were over. So, we flipped on gospel rapper LeCrae, who she has deemed far more progressive musically. But what was cool was the fact that we had fun singing songs and bugging out. Actually, the Rap-Rock act Korn is okay when you are taking the sleepy way through lower Delaware.

I really knew that the trip served a double purpose and a reminder of the importance of quality time.

I recall fondly these days with my dad. Hip-Hop was a great unifier for us. My brother, my Dad and I all had matching Adidas jackets that were cold as hell! I still have my dad’s jacket too. But, we used to dig deep in his record collection exploring all the sounds that he grew up on, particularly James Brown. According to my dad, James Brown was “The Godfather of Soul and Hip-Hop,” because rap sampled the legend so heavily in the 80’s. At the time, I wouldn’t admit he was right and even wrote a corny diss rap to James. My dad was no fan of Micheal or Prince, but he liked Run DMC. They were the type of men he wanted his sons to see, but we defended MJ’s right to shriek and have Jheri curls. We never tried to copy the curl though! But, those were the days. Those conversations were formative and meaningful.

I guess the music was just a road map to the conversation and common ground, eh?

Just before we started the road trip home, my daughter told me her real feelings about the ride up and admitted that it was very cool to just talk, have fun singing and spent time…even if her central query was secretly, “Are We There Yet?

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