KZ Writes Good
The internet is a huge bathroom wall, and any halfwit with a keyboard and a connection has an opportunity to scrawl on it. Take me, for instance. My name is KZ. For a good time, come find me at Prosaic Shades of Gray.
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Busta Rhymes Owes Me Fifteen Dollars
Back in 1996, I was a young kid in high school navigating the turbulent waves of adolescence when the now-legendary hip hop artist, Busta Rhymes, released his debut solo album, The Coming. This album was hot. There was a special quality to Busta’s music that made it strangely unifying among young fans of all different genres of music. I knew people my own age who swore they hated rap, but they couldn’t get enough of Busta’s first single, “Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check“.
The nineties were the era of the compact disc; and as a young music lover, I made it my teenage obsession to collect as many albums on CD as I could. So one day in 1996, I visited my local Wherehouse Music store and spent $15 plus tax on the new Busta Rhymes album. Eager to bump my new music on something loud, I rushed home to my trusty Panasonic RX-DS620 stereo system, unwrapped the packaging plastic around the album, inserted the disc, and hit Play.
It took me less than a minute to realize that something was very wrong. All of the curse words were scratched out of the audio. With horror, I snatched up the CD jewel case and inspected the album cover, confirming my worst fear. The album was missing the Parental Advisory Label. I had accidentally purchased the “clean”, edited version of the album. To say the least, I was pretty annoyed.
I don’t mean to suggest that curse words are what make a rap song great. But when you’re listening to any kind of music, the last thing you want to hear is a bunch of scratches and audio dips inserted into the recording for the sake of censorship. Censored music sucks.
So I took the disc back to store in a futile attempt to return it, even though I knew that Wherehouse Music, like most retailers, refused to accept returns on opened media. I pleaded my case with the store manager, but she turned me away without a refund. I was upset, but I understood. I had the money to buy an uncensored copy of the album that day, but doing so would have been such a waste. So instead, I took my CD back home, and I resolved to live with my mistake. I listened to that CD a good number of times over the next few months, doing my best to ignore the censored dips and garbled lyrics. Busta’s music was still enjoyable, but a little piece of me died whenever I heard his voice cut out on a curse word. I only lasted six months before I got fed up, and I bought the uncensored version of the album.
It’s been years since I made that stupid mistake, but it still eats at me whenever I hear a Busta Rhymes song. I’ll be the first one to admit that I shoulder most of the responsibility for that stupid, mistaken purchase. By that point in my life, I was a seasoned music consumer, and I knew better than to purchase a rap album before checking for the Parental Advisory Label. But I’m still kind of annoyed that neither Wherehouse Music nor Busta Rhymes’ record label, Elektra Records, took any of the usual precautions to help consumers distinguish the censored albums from the uncensored ones. Most other censored albums that I’ve seen in my time have been clearly marked with warning stickers that say “Clean” or “Censored” on them. I saw none of that when I bought the censored album from Wherehouse Music that day. A little warning would have been nice.
I realize it would be completely unfair of me to hold any of these problems against Busta Rhymes himself, but there’s this emotional, irrational part of me that can’t help but feel that Busta kind of ripped me off. Even so, that never stopped me from buying the rest of his albums.
Come on, Busta, take a hint. I’m clearly a fan, so don’t do me dirty like that. After all of your success and fame over the years, I think you can afford to finally give me that refund which Wherehouse Music denied me so long ago. All I’m asking for is fifteen dollars. The tax is on me.
30 Minus 2 Days of Writing (2014)
A painful exercise in forced inspiration brought to you by
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