This the anthem today. I've felt every line in this joint to various degrees since it dropped ten or eleven years ago, as I was living my own Dirty South version of the “last ten years” Danny reflects on here.
Ten years ago, I was kicked out a house I’d been trapping in. I’d cut powder on the kitchen counter, OD’d in the bathroom, and broken the living room window with some tweaker’s face, but I hadn’t been remembering to pay rent, so one of those things became a boiling point for my homie who was also living there. Motherfucker tunes pianos for a living now.
Nine years ago, I set out to take a girl I really liked to Baskin Robbins and ended up in handcuffs. I later ended up in her living room, with her legs across my lap and her hands around my neck and a look on her face that said I could tell her anything and she’d listen to it, she’d hear it. She’d be there.
Eight years ago, I proposed. She said yes.
Seven years ago, I was kicking in the office door throwing threats of physical violence at my boss to make the tyrannical weasel cough up a paycheck. A benefit of being one of three and sometimes one of only one craftsmen in a shop where the owner is spending more than the sweat of his crew is raking in, is you can say, “I’ma beat your face in with this hammer,” and he has to pay you. What’s he going to do, fire you and close the company? Call the cops? Later that year, I’d be marrying the love of my life.
Six years ago, we’re bouncing around Italy. Hanging out cliffside, feet dangling miles above a deep blue ocean spitting foam against sharp rocks, living some kind of fantasy I never thought to dream of years before. It’s this year that my first joint drops with Broken River. David said to write a bit about my life, but don’t focus too much on the crime. Over a weekend, I typed up Heathenish on my phone while the woman who saved me from the shit I was writing about slept next to me.
Five years ago, Erika and I are driving and flying across the country. Vegas, Santa Fe, Cannon Beach, Seattle, New York. I’m writing a little more. I’m coming up with new ways to threaten my boss. He’s got a memory that resets between each payday, but I remind him I’ll steal his TV, I’ll cut his throat in his sleep, I have bills to pay. Erika is pregnant.
Four years ago, Rowan is born. You ever play F-Zero, the hover car racing game? We’re on one of those glowing speed strips, now. Four years. Damn.
Three years ago, I’m scrapping to do my part for our growing family. I’m running the shop, which means nothing for my wallet or my sense of fulfillment. The shop. It’s just me and Marcus fighting with the boss. We take on jobs no other two humans could, cutting and building and installing thousands of cabinets for commercial projects across the state. Drive seven hours, break your back twelve hours, drive seven hours back, empty the rest of the trailer at another job site, cuss everyone who crosses you, dare someone to say something. I don’t sleep, motherfucker. I am a machine. I’m built different. You are not. You could never be me. Could never be me, bitch.
My son learns new words. Blink. He invents his own games, always with monsters and robots. Blink. He wields a plastic hammer, bangs it against his other toys. Says, “I fixed it!” Blink.
I’m creatively numb. I don’t know what to write. I’ve trashed three novels.
Two years ago, I walk out of the shop. If I’m scrapping day and night, steady shrinking my lifespan, might as well do it on my own. There’s odd jobs: laying vinyl tiles in the sleeping quarters of a horse trailer, painting a garage, building HVAC platforms for beach houses. David and I been chopping it up over the phone bout wanting to write again, inspired by rediscovering Takashi Miike. I buy a field recorder. Agitator is born. I’m dropping novels instead of trashing them.
One year ago, I’m stealing milk and pull-ups and the cost of lumber is so high, I can’t undercut bids any lower without stealing materials, too. Think I won’t? But Agitator—how’d that become the most popular thing I’ve ever had a hand in? We’re only months in at 60,000 downloads when off-hand remarks of how I should be doing voiceover work are too frequent to ignore. I cast some sigils. I conjure some spirits. I consult with ancestors. I hustle the voice gigs like this is just me, this what I been doing my whole life. And it’s kinda starting to work. Erika is pregnant again. More rituals and deals with deities are made.
Where we at now, Danny?
“Came a long way from extension cords in the window
Borrow neighbor's power just to plug up the Nintendo
Where the oven's never closed and the stove's never off
Every winter so cold, niggas sleepin' wearing scarf
But I always tell myself that it's gon' get better
You know who you is? You the greatest rapper ever
So now the pressure's on to prove that voice right
Some people never knew they goals, knew mine my whole life
So now his turn's up, fixin' up to bat
Pitchin' singles to the label when I used to pitch crack
I never learned to rap, always knew how
Ever since a nigga eight, knew what I would do now
When I turned twenty-eight, they like, "What you gon' do now?"”
The boys let me sleep through the night. Erika and I are finna go to lunch, enjoy some time together in the chaos of chasing the bread, raising these rugrats, fixing things as they break. I’m still here after thirty years, with more reason to grind than ever. Got a Patreon blowing up off talking bout anime and hustling with the homie. I talk into a microphone for a living. The love of my life still sleeping next to me while I type up the next novel on my phone through the night.
“And now a nigga thirty, so I don't think they heard me
That the last ten years, I been so fucking stressed
Tears in my eyes, let me get this off my chest
The thoughts of no success got a nigga chasing death
Doin' all these drugs, hope an OD ain't next, triple-X”
Mercy is free just for today.
Danny B! what a great pairing for this journey. Loved this
I’m starting Mercy this week. You’re a real motherfucker. I’m so glad I know you. You make the world richer. Thanks for what you do.