The Issue Of My Heart (or "Why Speed Sounds The Way He Does")

I always knew I was different. One of my legs was slightly shorter than the other, but I still kicked ass in baseball and soccer. OK, not really soccer, but that's besides the point. I'm five-foot-seven (on a good day) with size 12 feet. I have a larger tongue than most--which is great for some eating ice cream. I have a deep voice that's pretty croaky; Raquel and I just joked about this last night. I have allergies and problems with my nasal cavities and shit, so sometimes I sound stopped up and nasally when nothing's wrong. And, obviously, my last name is Speed and I make classic "no-fi" music. But, something that makes me different is something I didn't know until about two years back. This is something I don't usually talk about, so bear with me.

"The Notice"

It was a routine doctor's visit--as routine a visit as a person with anxiety issues can have anyways. I was in the process of being evaluated for my issues when my doctor noticed something.

"Your heart rate is quite high, Mr. Speed," she said, worried that I was about to stroke out any second.

"Really? This is pretty normal to me," I joked with her. For years, I'd dealt with health issues and hated doctors. I mean, I had almost died due to doctor's missteps more times than I should have. Add both of those together, I thought, and you get a high heart rate naturally. Once, I reached a heart rate of over 200 BPM, but still there was no visible damage to my heart or anything. I drank pints of Bacardi 151 with friends during college and nothing happened--other than some bad decisions regarding women and a few hangovers here or there.

"No, I mean that your heart's beating about 90-100 beats a minute at rest," my doctor insisted, as she walked out of the room. I was a bit worried, but nothing out of the ordinary. I was a bit overweight and ate shitty food, so I knew that my heart rate and my health probably wasn't as good as it should be. I always wondered what the doctor said to her other coworkers, but when she came back, she had an EKG machine and looked at me astounded.

I'd had an EKG a few times before. The first was when I was preteen, then when I joined my high school's soccer team, and finally a few years later when I clumsily sprained one ankle and pretty much broke the other trying to hoop with my cousins on Easter. She placed everything on me, ran the test and then send me on my way.

"I'll send you a notice if anything is irregular," she assured as I left.

About a week or so later, I found out that, apparently, there's been a tear or something in my heart for years, hindering a lot of my processes (in addition to a very slightly enlarged heart, probably due to my frat boy-like partying my last couple years of college). I'm trying to be more active and manage my anxiety better so it doesn't get any worse too quickly. But, obviously, this is the sort of "real life shit" that would put a damper on a guy trying to rap.

"You're saying too much, J dot."

I always thought that it was "hey, Speed, you're trying to rap too fast on your songs." That, plus, you know, inexperience with rapping. I mean, shit, I was a singer up until I hit puberty. Up until that day, I never knew it was something physically wrong with me. I mean, I could, every now and them legitimately get my Bone Thugs on, but when I did, I felt horrible. Not even in a "you're not punching hard enough on these beats, dude" type of way. I'm talking migraines, rushing thoughts, feeling nauseous, et cetera. I thought it was just my body's way of handling that boost of adrenaline I got from spitting bars like watermelon seeds. So, I tried to stay away from that, but I slipped back into it more often than not. 

It wasn't until Raquel told me that she pretty much understood about two bars in a verse I did that I decided to take it slower. But as time went on, I noticed that it became harder. Not harder to not rap fast--that was easy. I'd rather say three words on a track than 50 if those three are clearer and more pronounced. I meant that it became harder to actually spit verses. Listening to some of my older tracks, I hear that I could fit more into a breath than now (an example that sticks out to me is "Baby Even Cool Kings Yearn" of BECKYTKID). And, on the real, I probably was less in-shape then than now.

"I need to own up to this bullshit, mayne...before I go insane..."

Looking back, my transgressions (read: "those things that make up the bulk of RAQUEL RELOADED/One Year Later") didn't help my cause. But, like True told me when I revealed this to him: "you're not dead." He's right. Yeah, I have shitty breath control with my music, but worse things could happen. 

I could be dead.

And even with that shitty breath control, I still make great music.

Songs For... drops August 17, 2013. 

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