One thing they don’t tell you when traveling overseas is, getting around is tough. You take for granted that you Google and Map directions every time you’re unsure of your destination. Now this is also doable overseas, but it takes a lot more patience and preparation to do so. Your cellular provider’s international data plan works when it wants to, and finding public wifi can be a task. That’s the backdrop…
So I’m in Amsterdam alone September 2018, roaming the streets and taking in the culture. Before I left the states, I researched a few places to visit while in the country. However, I’ll reiterate, this is easier said than done when you have no idea where you are. As I’m adventurously wandering the cobbled stone roads, trying not getting completely lost, I stumble into a random pub (because of the free WiFi sign).
The bartender greets me with a bit of confusion, but serves me up a beer and the WiFi password. Perhaps it was the Yankee hat, or maybe it was the southern drawl, or maybe I was just the first black guy that had stepped foot in the pub in a while; not sure. Honestly it was just nice to sit down for a few minutes and check my phone, so I had no issues. As I’m enjoying the local beer, the bartender and his friend are having a very passionate conversation in Dutch, completely ignoring me. Over their Dutch argument, I hear a very familiar tune on the pub’s speaker… “hip hop hoorrraaayyy hoooo haaaayyy hoooo” by Naughty by Nature on the loud speaker.
Old school Hip Hop in Amsterdam was the last thing I’d think I’d hear, but it was a classic. Some music just transcends borders and that was one of them. After rationalizing hearing Tretch in another country, Tupac comes on directly after. “They say the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice” from Keep Your Head Up. The bartender stops his conversation in Dutch and starts singing the chorus in clear ass English, then the friend piggy backs on the verse word for word.
I couldn’t gauge how those two gentleman felt about people of color when I sat down at that pub, based on their attitude and level of service, but hearing them rap hip hop lyrics in their second language made me feel welcome. Music has absolutely helped bridge the gap of understanding of cultural differences between people all over the world. I’ve always heard this from others, but seeing this up close and personal was DIFFERENT.
All in all, I love it. The only thing I would ask from everyone who enjoys hip hop culture, that is not from the culture, is to show that same love and admiration for the people that make the art you love.