Break On Through: Understand Where I’m Coming From?

So I’m black.

(Don’t you love when I open up with that line? It’s like a precursor to some race based observation on something race-related. Like NASCAR. Thank you.)

I had the privilege of growing up in very different circumstances. For instance, during my early years, I was raised by my white mother (as my father, though around, was in another country preparing me for a new family), in a black populated area. Some might call them projects, I choose to call them very low-to-no income housing.

What transpired can only be called a social experiment in whether or not white people can truly raise black kids. While my other black peers were listening to Michael Jackson and Prince, I was listening to Michael Jackson and AC/DC. Or ZZ Top. Or Ratt. Or my personal favorite, Judas Priest.

And you couldn’t tell me nothing about Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. I was diehard.

At 5.

At age 6, my younger sister and I, heavy metal and motorcycle boots in tow, left my mother’s care in Michigan and moved in with my father in Germany. So you can imagine the culture clash that was little Panama and his new soon-to-be sisters and mother. Have a look see.

Panama’s New Sister-To-Be: I just got that new Janet Jackson!! Controoooooooool!

Porno for Pyro’s Panama: Umm…do you have any Judas Priest? I really like Judas Priest. Or maybe some Ratt.

Panama’s NSTB: What is Judas Priest?!?!!!! Mommy, this new boy that you all brought home just curseded!

(Actually, my sister couldn’t speak English very well at that point since she was going to German school. Little known Panama fact, I taught one of my sisters how to read in English. At age 7. )

PP Panama: *two fingers in the air in Satan/Texas Longhorn salute* Rock on!!!!!

Now this was all a social experiment because my mother’s musical tastes became mine. Kind of like how Kanye said he was very feminine and gay acting in high school because he was raised with his mother. Except not even remotely similar.

With my mother’s musical tastes, I often became the kid that folks didn’t understand. Buying toy bats (of the flying variety) and trying to bite their heads off a la Ozzy will do that to you. However, over time I gained my parents appreciation for “black” music. I started getting into Alexander O’Neal, Michael Jackson (even more), Prince, and of course all the old school soul music my parents had stored up in their record collection. Talk about confusion. It got even worse in middle school. I’d go from listening to Guns ‘N Roses to the Geto Boys in about 3 seconds flat. Skid Row?? Def Leppard?

Homey, pour some sugar on me.

So where is all of this going? Well its going here. My mother’s influence on my early musical tastes have helped me TREMENDOUSLY in life. It allowed me to be way more open-minded in my music than a lot of folks I knew growing up. I’d be rocking my Green Day albums while my friends in high school thought I was listening to that “white music” too much.

Dude, they had an album called Dookie. I was like 13. Who couldn’t get behind that?

And it’s amazing that at this point in my life the vast array of music I listen too. I’ll go from listening to the Blackbyrds to listening to the Doors (as I’m doing right now…I think the classic rock song “Light My Fire” might be one of my new favorite songs of all time). I have thousands of CD’s at this point (on last count) and you’ll find some of the strangest shit ever in that mix. Hell I still purchase music.

I have all of my old school music segregated since I like to consider those albums the gems of my collection. But mixed in with those are my Guns ‘N Roses Appetite for Destruction album, my Doors albums, my Rolling Stones and Beatles albums, though I seriously think the Beatles are WAY overrated.

Yeah I said it!! I’m a gangsta. And I hate Jim Jones.

I often wonder why we, as black folks, are so quick to dismiss rock music (or any other type of music not done by black folks), especially since about 90 percent of the early rock music is just blues music being sung by white boys. Granted, the music was taken and given life by the new white audiences who couldn’t care about the black originators, but alas, if it’s good it’s good. And how many people REALLY don’t listen to rock because of the racism behind it? Not very many. Most folks don’t because it’s “that white sh*t.” Hell, I used to hate on country music. HARD. That was until I started listening to Johnny Cash. Now I’m hooked. And if you don’t think Johnny is country, then I listen to Kris Kristofferson too. The Highwaymen rocked.

I don’t know how people listen to solely rap or R&B all day long. It would truly drive me nuts. Especially with all the great jazz out there. Speaking of jazz and obscure R&B, it wasn’t until college and I met one of my boys who probably introduced me to more jazz and 70′s era soul music than you can shake an old cat at, that I even got into jazz. This dude’s knowledge and catalog is extensive but I was open to learning. Now I’m like niggas with Independence Airline tickets…on a whole nother plane.

Get it? Cuz they shut down…


Aww go to hell.

Anyway, I know how I got to how I am; how’d you get to where you are?

Put a little love in your heart.