When Michael Colen, a.k.a. rapper First Degree The D.E., emailed this week to say I received a shout-out in his new song, “The Fahrenheit Record,” my schoolgirl-meets-One-Direction reaction surprised me a little.
I never realized how needy I was as a reporter, but there you go. Informing the public, making an impact, stirring shit up, that’s all well and good. But what I really crave, it turns out, is musical immortality.
Finally, I thought, underground street cred would be mine.
But then I listened to the track, from First Degree’s upcoming album, Black Bane, which he anticipates releasing in October. It’s a timely dirge aimed at the demoralizing cultural and political rifts that stem from a lack of empathy and piss-poor media coverage. “We started the Fahrenheit news publication because wasn’t nobody reporting on the hood,” First Degree, one of Sacramento’s O.G. rappers, says in the intro.
I flexed my ear muscles to absorb every syllable the husky-voiced rapper delivers over what he calls “a scary Beta beat.”
Then I made others listen to it. Over and over again.
And nowhere in the track’s five-minute-and-11-second run time is my name mentioned.
At one point, I thought I heard a mispronounced version of my last name, rhymed with “complainy” (which would have been accurate), but it turns out he actually says “not too zany.”
Oh sure, First Degree name-checks SN&R a few times, and credits us with shining some light on the scene he says the mainstream media typically ignores.
But come on. How hard is it to rhyme “Raheem” with…anything? “Steam,” “caffeine,” “come clean,” “a dream,” “ice cream”—there are literally fives of possibilities!
Hell, he even gives the Sacramento Bee’s former music writer, Chris Macias, a personal shout-out. Which only deepens the resentment I have toward him.
Anyway, my petty gripes aside, be sure to give the song a listen. If, like me, you play it again and again like the Zapruder film, it’ll likely earworm its way into your head with its ominous keyboard production and the big man’s mainfesto-style lyrics.
“I’ll never be rich. I’d rather have reach,” First Degree raps midway through the track.
Yeah. Me too.
UPDATE: The ever-chill First Degree emailed back to say the third line of the track actually begins, “Hosseini Sac News Review hits me up bout the scene…”
So that immortal fame we were talking about? MINE. Wonder if I can use it to buy a hearing aid.