I've wanted to write this piece for a while now, but I've never been sure how to go about it.

See, rap has always been a big part of my life, or at least since middle school. Every angry white kid who grew up in the 2000s looked at Eminem like the second coming and I was definitely an angry white kid. Club bangers were a huge deal when I was younger, masterpieces like Usher's "Yeah" and the indelible Snoop's "Drop It Like It's Hot" coming to the forefront when I was in school. Then I happened to fall in with a crowd in high school that was very anti-rap, so I didn't listen to much rap. I got back on the boat starting college and let me tell you, things had changed.

I knew the moment when I realized I loved rap again. Rolling down Sunset Lake Road in the middle of the night, debatably under the influence of certain substances, my friend put on El-P's Cancer 4 Cure album and went straight to the anthem "Oh Hail No". And I remember thinking that the song was pretty good. Then I heard it.

From the second that he yelped "Check!", Danny Brown had my full attention. I'd never heard a voice like that in my life. The possibly (or probably) cracked-out earnestness mixed with the hilarious lines and a strange delivery and I was hooked. And down the rabbit hole I went.

Fast forward a little bit and Elin Swank and I are sitting in Frank Hall on Appalachian State's west side of campus, drinking 40 ounces of Old English and bumping to the Underacheivers' "Herb Shuttles" and we just found this dude named Chance. We were turning A$AP Mob up loud, listening to Ferg croon about how dope his funeral would be. We listened to Joey Bada$$ and his boys navigate the difficulties of high school. We didn't just know about Kendrick's perfect Good Kid, we felt like we lived it. My entire day would consist of walking around campus, headphones in as I vibed to the beats of Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul, getting back to my room just in time to go meet Elin in the trails behind Bowie Hall. Life was simpler then.

Fast forward another year and my neighbors seem to be trying to throw the biggest party of the century every night. I didn't know them that well, but they turned up everything that I had started to hate about rap all those years ago in high school. But we started to hang out and I slowly found that they liked to get as rowdy as I did. We'd listen to "Thug Waffle" at 10 in the morning, sitting on the front porch while trying to beat the night before away with the hair of the dog. We'd open my other neighbors' front door and pull Drew's bigass speakers to the doorway, "Break the Bank" thumping down the street as we drank on the porch. Move-in day on my senior year, we had a porch party blasting Krizz Kaliko as kids looked at us in wonder and their parents glared disapprovingly. For almost all of college, thug rap was my soundtrack.

And then suddenly it ended. After college, I moved back home and then to Asheville, not hanging out with all of those people whose music had defined my career. And I miss it. I miss walking back into Frank Hall at 1pm on a Friday, getting out of the staircase to hear "Brain Cells" all the way down the hall. I miss getting off the bus to see Jonesy sitting on the porch at 680, singing along to a song that has never gotten anyone laid . I miss all those signs of a simpler time, where the hardest thing that was going on in my life was some test that I already planned to not study for. But every now and then, I'll get in a mood.

And I'll turn on Robb Bank$ and slowly bob my head.

And I'll taste that OE bite and smell the smoke in the air.

And a little grin escapes, as I wonder if any of my other friends do this.

And as the end of "Fine$t" fades out, I think I might be happy.

*I don't own the rights to this music, all rights are retained by current owner