A rapper sat in his bedroom on a Sunday afternoon, scribbling on a notepad with a No. 2 pencil. He did not write about guns or drugs or gangsters of any kind. All such topics had been forbidden by his mother, who walked in and looked over his shoulder.
“Look how sloppy that is,” she said.
“It’s comin’ out of my head,” the rapper said. “Once I finish, make a whole verse, I make sure it sounds right. Then I write it nice.”
“Why don’t you write it down nice the first time?” his mother said. “Then you won’t have to write it down again.”
“Okay,” he said, with no further protest. Sunlight came through the battered miniblinds and fell in narrow stripes on the beige carpet. Loud music poured from the speakers of a Hewlett-Packard Media Center computer: a series of bold, spacey loops, with an accented 808 snare, appropriate for the witching hour at the Velvet Room. He had composed this beat the day before, on this computer, with a program known as Fruity Loops.
“I ain’t gonna say the hook,” he told me. By then his mother had left the room. “I’m gonna go right into the verse.”
“All right,” I said.