‘Beef’ was a term that was popularised through hip-hop. It denoted a fracas, something far greater than a verbal dispute. In the nineties, when rappers mentioned they were in beef with another rapper…you knew what time it was. They weren’t going to have a dance-off or DJ spin-off like they did in the eighties – things had evolved since then.
We passed the middle of the dance floor where girls were ‘butterflying’, a dancehall move where you rotate your knees together in opposite directions, but these girls were doing it on their backs. I hadn’t seen this dance live before, only in music videos on TV.
Dada didn’t live too far away from my mum’s house, so I decided on taking my burdens to him, and hoped that he’d welcome them. Headphones on my head, Walkman set to play, I bounced down Lee High Road rocking my head hard, rapping along to Biggie Smalls’ ‘Juicy’
She had the Salt ‘n’ Pepa look with the leather hat, the slanted bob haircut and the back shaven with the letters RUDE cut in. Like many teenagers in the late eighties and early nineties, she was one of Salt ‘n’ Pepa’s biggest fans.
I had fallen into a semi-subconscious trance, limbs folded into my chest. I lay within the sunken centre of my bottom bunk. Maria, Shariece, Stella and Tyrone were ‘bogling’ to ‘Wicked Inna Bed’
Her words played on my ego. I was keen to show her the high level of my skill set when it came to fighting. I thought I was a strong contender in that department, and the reputation I started to build for myself reflected this.
I ran through the dark estate as I always did. I was on what we called my Ps and Qs. And it didn’t mean ‘please and thank-yous’, which Mum would say to prep mine or Safire’s behaviour when out in public. It denoted being alert, being on your toes or on your guard.
Whilst Nicola checked out Charlene I checked out her. She was kitted out from head to toe in designer clothing. She wore skin-tight patterned Versace jeans, a fitted white top with Giorgio Armani sprawled across the front, a Moschino belt with the gold block lettering and flat black Gucci loafers…
By the time I got down the stairs, making gun signs at the historic portraits of the likes of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X on my way – this demonstrated an appreciation of their contribution to history, and something I had copied from Dad – Dad was in the kitchen.
For some moments I lay there on the bottom bunk trying to ease my stresses out. Dad continued to let his mouth run over and above the reggae drumbeats of Dennis Brown’s ‘Stop the Fussing and Fighting’.