This spring I met this chic at the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week event and we instantly hit it off, to the point of other\ns coming up to us asking if we are best friends to this day.
Meeting her would have me digging deep into my teen years allowing myself to go back in time to tell that young chic, “Hey, you’re gonna be alright.” My relationship reminds me of when I fell in love with HipHop and how much I really love New Orleans and the people here.
Both natives of New Orleans who left our city for greater opportunities in northern states after high school. Surprisingly, we both returned to New Orleans 20 years later for the very same reasons, the soul of New Orleans called us home.
Our childhood life in New Orleans could be no different, but oh so similar, because of our strong family cultures. Years later we would find that the social qualms that attempted to keep us at odds only brought us together. Uptown darkskinned or Gentilly lightskinned a commonality existed between the two.
I was an Uptown darkskinned chic who attended public school. I was honor roll student, boy crazy, fashion and Hip Hop fan. My home life shared with my single parent mother and younger sister, my baby brother would come when I was 14yrs old was filled with all things black New Orleans culture, black woman empowerment and survival. I was an beloved Daddy’s Girl too. My daddy was that “Step” parent who literally coparented by picking us up, never coming into the our house. He was a businessman, lived in the land of nice grass, pool and the lakefront behind his house in a gated community.
Needless to say, I was able to experience the best of both lives, which I think contributed to me being the woman I am. I can adapt to urban life and high society. I was raised Baptist and my grandmother was very active in the church serving as the Mother of the church eventually.
She was from the 7th Ward, lightskinned private school chic, honor roll, somewhat a tomboy, boys were the lest on her mind unless it was roughing it up with her brother’s. Her crush was Hip Hop. She had a home life shared with both parents who had a longstanding loving marriage, brother’s and one older sister. I kinda envision the Cosby Show type of family life, but with more boys lol. She was the babygirl in the family, her mother had her in her early 40s. She was raised Catholic and you know their service last a minute compared to the Baptist church. Living in the 7thWard and having that structured family life allowed her to experience the best of both worlds as well.
I actually lived right around the corner from the catholic school she attended, but our paths would never cross until now.
We met when another new friend of mine and I took pictures of each other outside of the event, when this beautiful tall lightskinned chic asked in the most teen girl like voice if I could take her pic. From that day our friendship has been filled with taking pictures, selfies, food, New Orleans culture, girl talk and yasss Hip Hop.
There are days when I’m confronted with the heartbreaking fact that my people, native New Orleanians are in search of our very own music in our soul. The heartbeat, the soul of New Orleans plays a tune soft and quiet playing in sync with your heartbeat. What I have found is that many New Orleanians need to see the music, see the beat, see the horn, the drum, the speaker that produces the sound or else they are sure if it’s what they are hearing.
Katrina has them questioning if they hear their very own heart beat and it hurts me. No wonder why they can’t hear me, I wasn’t in the gutter with them, I wasn’t in the hot, stank confines with them, but if only they knew that love doesn’t manifest itself physically at times. I could hear and feel their cries, because they are, New Orleans is a part of me.
This is what I love about my relationship with my girl. Our bond breaks all the rules of black girl friendship. Both raised in the heart of New Orleans, but looking at us from the outside we are so different even now. I have a community college nursing and entrepreneurial, divorced mother of 3 and here she is corporate director, Harvard degree, divorcee shaking hands with millionaires. Our lives could be no different to this day, but still at the heart of it all we have this soul connection being kept alive by the heartbeat of the music of life and lots of times it plays Hip Hop.
I came back home with a eyes, heart and arms wide open. It was as if I was awaken to the reality of a real life heartbreaking love story where only the sad version of the Blues play for my people. This is where my bond, my friendship with my girl comes into play, the music suddenly changes and I am in the carefree world of when I first fell in love with Hiphop, but actually it was when I first fell in love with New Orleans. The music took my teenage soul onto to the streets of New Orleans in search of that beat, that second line, that record store, the gameroom, the courts of the projects and any place my heart hear that beat.
We still see and hear New Orleans, our people with our young eyes and hearts. We hear the sound of the heart and soul of New Orleans and that’s what I, thru my Neauxla Chic branding would like to share with you. I want you to come across that person, place, thing that bust your senses wide open allowing you to not only hear, but see, taste and feel when you first fell in love with New Orleans.
I first fell in love with New Orleans when I first heard “Paul Revere” by the Beastie Boys at my cousin’s house party. My other cousin and I were the only girls and my Mama came to get me as “I need love” by LL Cool J was midtape, taking my 13yr old axx off the wall by the boy I would lose my virginity to… But, whoah that beat of the Beastie Boys had me showing off my mirror taught dance moves, I was whopping it til I had whiplash. Then the sweet lyrics of LL Cool J had me right then and there and hasn’t left since.
I’m so happy that me and my girl finally crossed paths, because I needed the reminder of when I fell in love with me.
With that being said, a man who doesn’t understand & love Hip-Hop probably won’t be able to love & understand me.
Hip-Hop will forever be a part of me. Love is love. My first & only. On some Brown Sugar shxt.
“I remember the exact day I fell in love with Hip Hop. (…). Little did I know how much Hip Hop would be a part of my life. (…). Hip hop was as young, naive… confused… sometimes innocent, and sometimes as mischievious as I was. And as I grew up, Hip Hop grew with me… and along the way it took on all my baggage, my dreams… I felt Hip Hop and Hip Hop felt me. And I know that everyone who loves the music feels the same way I do.
For many people Hip Hop was that first friend… the first to talk to us, the first to understand. Hip Hop has always been that kind of friend to me. And like any relationship… I watched it grow, I watched it change.
The union of Hip Hop to the mainstream… was a hard thing to imagine. Hip Hop was always this personal regional thing that belonged to just me. Starting with “Fab 5 Freddie” and Yo! MTV Raps! Anyone with a television set and cable box could get a piece of hip hop. I knew I was gonna have to share… and that was hard to get used to.
Just when you think you know everything there is to know about Hip Hop, it finds a way to surprise you… and remind you why you fell in love in the first place.
So what is the difference between “Rap” and Hip Hop? Its simple… Its like the difference between saying you love somebody… and being in love with somebody. “Rap” is just a word!
I always thought… One day I would outgrow my relationship with Hip Hop. I never thought it was a “fad” like many, but I never thought it could grow and mature. I thought it would be an adolescent memory I’d look back on… like a crush on the captain of the football team. But I realize we have more than that… much more. We have a history… a friendship… We listen to each other… We laugh together… We finish each others lyrics. I dont have to pretend with Hip Hop, and Hip Hop doesnt have to pretend with me. My feelings have never been more clear, and I know they will never go away.”