The Come Up

By Sabria Earin and Charlotte Lundy

At every high school, there are at least a handful of students working on their come up as rappers. Growing up in New Orleans, people’s everyday lives are influenced by music. The music of New Orleans assumes various styles which have often borrowed from earlier traditions. The city is especially known for its strong association with jazz music, universally considered to be the birthplace of the genre. Every year at Jazz Fest, you’ll find someone standing outside of the race track trying to push their mixtape: ”Hey, you listen to rap? Would you check out my mixtape? I been on my grind.”

Kim Watson is one of these New Orleans rappers, who performs under the name Lil Kimbo. “The only thing that comes to a sleeping man is dreams. Tupac said that,” Kim said, speaking of his inspiration. Kim started rapping when he was eight years old. His twin sister Kimmie taught him how. You can find Kim at any rap battle, whether he’s battling or just there to watch. Kim was influenced to become a rapper by his environment and going to rap battles.

I met Kim at a rap battle in the summertime two years ago. It was eight at night and we were in Starlings Park. There was a crowd of people circled around two young rappers, one of which was Kim. He didn’t win that night. You can tell if someone has won a rap battle by how loud the crowd gets for them. Since that night, he has won more than twenty rap battles.

Kim is a freshman at International High School of New Orleans. His favorite subjects are English and music. Kim says education affects his music because if he wasn’t good at English, his raps would be basic—no metaphors, simple, boring. Kimmie, Kim’s sister, no longer raps, but she listens to her brother. “I have no choice,” Kimmie said. Kim’s mother also supports his music, but she does wish that he had chosen a more stable career.

Kim doesn’t have a plan B. “If I don’t become a rapper, I don’t know what I’ll do,” he said. For now, Kim’s just trying to push his music by going to rap battles and reaching out to people on social media. Kim has witnessed a lot of violence in his neighborhood, yet he still tries to push a positive message. “You can prosper out of a bad situation,” he said.

Sabria Earin and Charlotte Lundy are freshmen at New Orleans Charter Math and Science High School.

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