Your Story

“What’s your story?” said Masta. “Go ahead girl, tell me.”

Nadia had prepared an answer but couldn’t say anything. A world famous music producer sat in a chair before her; this was her chance to make an impression but she was nervous and stuck for words.

“Come on girl, tell me your story. I haven’t got all day.”

She cleared her throat and spoke in laboured street slang. “I had a ragged childhood, Masta. I was born in the City, Blood, with state housing blocks circling my ass. There was no jobs, nor at least not legal ones, anywhere about that hood. There was one Indie store that ripped peoples off. Because my folks was brown, people said we was greedy peoples like they was. Our windows was smashed and we had mutt-shit pushed through our door. My dad sold drugs to survive and pimped my addict mom. It was ragged, Blood. I wish I could’a…”

“Hold it, girl!” said Masta. “Hold it! Now look here. You seem like a real nice girl.”

He looked at his Homies, gathered around him; they said, “True dat.”

He continued, “Man, you could present a show on the CBC. Is that your normal way of talking?”

His Homies said, “Be true!”

“Was your childhood really like that? Come on girl, be honest.”

“Erm…” Nadia wasn’t sure how to answer. Everybody was scared of Masta. He had been Canadia’s best known performer, went on to be a global club DJ, and then a music producer for top urban acts; gritty, rhymey stuff with harsh, broken beats. He was a musical genius, admired by everybody, but loved by few. He had a ferocious temper, which she’d witnessed on TV shows; he was so mean that people cried and ran away.

The media described him as a “prodigy” or “outlier”, also an “unhinged genius”. He was someone with great originality and exceptional ability, but poor mental discipline and interpersonal skills, which led to his inability to communicate ideas to others. When people didn’t know exactly what he wanted and asked for clarification, they were shouted and screamed at, and told they were “useless f***ing idiots who wouldn’t get a job washing shit at McDonalds.”

Because he was scary, people tried to please him. They bowed and scraped and trod on eggshells, and bit their lip when fearing they’d said something wrong, which was better than Masta biting it off. Yet they knew that his genius was infectious. In one day with him, they would learn more than in one year with an ordinary producer. That’s why those that were able to – bearing thick skins and tough minds – did their best to put up with him.

Contestants on his show Music Masta generally tried to emulate him. They wore funky hats, short dreads, and chunky jewellery, and used street talk – Yo’s and Ho’s – never proper grammatical sentences. Nadia had tried to impress him with her tale of childhood, with which she’d taken considerable artistic licence, but he wasn’t buying it; what to do now?

“Girl, you’ve got ten seconds. What do they say at church? Speak now or forever hold your peace.”

His Homies put their hands to their lips and said, “Shhhh…”

Scientists have proved that it’s always easier to tell the truth. Flux MRI scans, which monitor brain stimulation, show that lying requires about four times as much activity. So Nadia told the truth.

“I had a really lovely childhood, Mister Masta. My mother made nice dinners for me, and my father read me stories in bed. My brother is five years older than me, and always brought me little presents. I grew up being a happy girl, always optimistic, and because I’m happy, I make others happy too. Life treats me well and I have nothing to complain about.”

Masta threw his hands up in the air. “That’s what I’m talking about! That’s your story! You’re a happy girl! That’s fabulous, sister! I’m not looking for more people like me; there’s enough of us gangsters polluting the planet already. I’m looking for something different and authentic. So what are you singing for me today?”

Rather than saying, “I’m the Motherf***ing Queen of Babylon,” as she had planned to, Nadia said, “When a Child is Born.”


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