Sunday, March 7, 2010

Reflections from a product of 80's and 90's hip-hop culture: "Can you beat box, doc?"*

* Gabe and Julie (Grady Hospital Chief Residents 2009-2010) ~ This one's for you. . . . .

"Check the rhyme, y'all."
~ from A Tribe Called Quest circa 1991

I wish I could make these things up, y'all. . . .but some things are just too funny to be fabricated. That said, here is one of my latest Grady Seinfeld moments. . . . .

In front of Grady--where it all went down circa 2010

Walking down the street after lunch, right in front of Grady, this dude stops me on the corner as I'm crossing the street to enter the hospital:

Dude: " 'Xcuse me . . . .'xcuse me, doc!"

Me: "Beg pardon?" (looking around to mak
e sure he was talking to me.)

Wait. Let me set the scene. The dude is definitely older than me--had to be at least 45--and his race I cannot determine. I hear the twang of "brotha" in his voice, but his outward appearance suggests otherwise. Hat is on backward, Atlanta Braves fitted. A goatee gone horribly wrong is the main thing I notice when I look at his face; mostly because the left side of it either was accidentally shaved off or never grew in. Was wearing an oversized white t-shirt, a down-filled ski jacket that was equally oversized, and all of this was contrasted by dress shoes. Some kind of faux alligator dress shoes. *Sigh* The whole thing was fraught with peril.

Dude: " 'Xcuse me, doc, uuuhhh. . . look here.
. . .(cuts eyes from side to side). . .you like hip hop music?" Oh lawd. Is he getting ready to try to sell me some CDs on the corner next to Grady? Oh lawd. . . .

Me: "Uuuhhhh. . . I guess so."

Dude: "Word? So you do like rap music, huh doc?" Lawd. . . .

Me: "Uhhh, yeah, it's okay."
See? That's the problem with your job being smack in the center of downtown ATL. This dude is about to either try to sell me the latest T.I. release --or worse-- ask me to listen to his demo. Who does he think I am? Puff Daddy?

Dude: "Well me," (pats his chest)"Me? I raps for money. So if you like hip hop music, I can rap for you if you want." He cannot be serious.

Me: "Wait, you mean like rap for me like rig
ht here right now?" I pointed at the spot on the ground where we stood.

Dude: "Fo' sho, mama. It's what I do." Bops his head, already feeling some internal beat. Wait, did he just call me 'mama?'

Me: "
Okay, then. . . . what you got?" To answer your question before you ask, yes. Yes, I needed to get back to work, but if you know me, you know I really could not resist the offer. I mean, how could I?

Dude: "What you mean '
what I got?' "

Me: "Dude! I mean, 'What you
got?' " I held my hands out and shrugged my shoulders.

Dude: "Oh! You mean you want me to
rap for you?"

Me: "Uhhh, yeah. It's
what you do, right?"

Dude: "No doubt mama!" Eeewwww.

Me: "It better be worth the money."

Dude: "No doubt, doc. It will be, it will be!"

Run D.M.C. chillin' in a "b-boy stance" circa 1983

I fold my arms and look at Dude, one eyebrow raised. My stance says, 'I'm ready when you are.' Matter of fact, it was a b-boy stance (see Run D.M.C. above.) Kinda like, I really am Puff Daddy or P.Diddy or Diddy or whatever he calls himself now, and this is his big chance to get signed.

Dude: (clears his throat) Eh hem, eh hem. . . . (starts popping his fingers, really really hard) Eh hem. . .eh hem. . . .(still popping fingers and I am wondering if he will ever start). . .aiight. . .aiight. . . here we go,yo. . . .uunnhh. . . . here we go, yo. . . uunnhh. .

'Here's a message to the ladeeeeees. . . . Married, single and even the ones wit' babeeees. . . '

Then he stopped and just nodded his head and kept saying, "Uunnhh!" I waited for like 5 head nods before interrupting.

Me: (squinting my eyes, and still in my b-boy stance) "Wait--so that's
it? I mean. . .what's the message to the ladies? I'm married and I have babies."

Dude: "I'm sayin', doc! You making me nervous." He really did look
kinda nervous.

Me: "Nervous? Nervous? Dude! You approached me."

Dude: "But you made me feel nervous, doc!"

I started making a mental list of emcee/rap persona names for him:

1. L.L. Fool J
2. Big Daddy Plain
3. T. Why?
4. Jay Zzzzzz

5. 15 Cents
6. MC Stammer
Hmmm. . . .Oh yeah. . .

7. T. Pain-ful
8. Poop Dogg. . . .

Me: "Oh, well either way I feel like I shouldn't pay anything for that."

Dude: "Whaaaat?" (looking genuinely offended.)

Me: (giving him hairy eyeball) "Now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure that line
was in a 90's rap song. Matter of fact, I'm going to ask my sister (JoLai aka queen of all things random) whose line it was if I can manage to remember what you said."

Dude: "
Whaaaat?" (still genuinely offended.)

Me: "Dude. I'm sayin'. One, I should not pay for only 8 bars. And two, you should pay me for 8 bars that you bit off of some other rapper." Held up my fingers to count 'one' and 'two.'

(bit/bite: v. to steal someone's style, rhyme, or moves. e.g. Q: "I like that dance crew." A: "Naaah, they whack 'cause they always bite from other squads.")

Dude: "
Whaaaat?" (can't tell if he is questioning what I'm saying or about to have some kind of seizure)

Me: "So can you at least bust a free-style?"

(free-style: n or v. a rap or rapping that one makes up off the top of their head.
e.g. Q: "Do you like Eminem?" A: "He's not my favorite, but I give him mad props for the way he can
free-style off the dome.")
(whoops--"off the dome": off of the top of one's head, to ad lib")

Dude: "Yeah, mama, I can free-style!"

Me: "Okay, if you stop calling me mama, I will consider paying for a free-style--but not for the rhyme you bit off of Yo-Yo." (The 90's rapper came to me during the exchange.) Note to self: confirm that on Google or with sister, JoLai, the equivalent of Google.

Rapper Yo-Yo circa 1990 (turns out you can find anything on Google or through my sister)

Dude: "But I can't without a beat box."

Me: "Whaaaaat?"

(beat box: n or v. a person who uses their mouth as an instrument to create a beat, usually to accompany a rapper or to mimic the sounds of a stereo system. e.g. Q: "Did y'all have a D.J. when you were having the rap battle?" A: "Naaah. We just had somebody beat box old school style."

Dude: "I need a beat box."

Me: "Dude, please. I'm leaving. You faked me out."

Dude: "Nuh uh! You just made me nervous! I'm sayin'!"

Me: "Whatever, man." (Preparing to leave. . . .)

Dude: "Wait--can you beat box, doc?"

Me: "Are you serious? Dude, I'm a grown woman."

Dude: "But
can you beat box?"

Me: "Can I beat box? Hmmm. Actually, while I
can beat box, I won't beat box, one, because I am a grown woman, and two, because I am a grown woman physician wearing my white coat while standing on a corner in front of Grady Hospital where I happen to work."

Dude: "So you
can beat box?" Did he hear anything I said?

Me: "Dude! I'm a black woman from L.A. who was raised in the '80s.
Of course I can beat box."

Dude: "
Whaaat?" (Starts bopping to that silent beat of his again, now waving his hand and saying "Go! Go! Go!" in an effort to egg me on.)

Me: (still in b-boy stance) "That won't make me beat box, sorry."

Dude: "Oh." (Stops the bopping.)

Me: (Shaking my head wondering what I'm doing.) "Alright then, sir. I need to go."

Dude: "Wait, wait, wait. . .'xcuse me, doc?"
Big sigh.

Me: "Yes,

Dude: "Can I just have a dollar anyway?"

Me: "For what?"

Dude: "Just 'cause."

Me: "
Just 'cause? 'Cause what?"

Dude: " 'Cause it's hard out here for a pimp."

Me: "Dude! You're
still biting lines? Now I'm definitely not giving you a dollar."

Dude: "Damn."

"Do it for the story?"

My friend and fellow Grady doctor, David M., told me that the story would have been much better if I had actually started beat-boxing on the corner in front of Grady. (He's right, the image of it is pretty funny.) Okay, I would be lying if I didn't admit that it did cross my mind for two seconds. (Two seconds, Mom and Dad, that's it.) I thought about my advisee, Antoinette, and her motto: "Do it for the story." Then I remembered that I am almost 40 years old and then had this fleeting image of my chairman, Dr. Alexander, walking across the street catching me mid-beat. (Not so good.) Then again, me standing in a b-boy stance on the corner of Jesse Hill Jr. Drive might be equally questionable. . . . .

Moral of the story:

1. Say what you want--every day is a blast when you work at Grady. . . .even when you aren't inside the building!
2. Check the rhyme, y'all. :)

Biz Markie, the human beat box demonstrating beat box at it's best--accompanied by "Roxanne Shante'". . . now THAT'S old school. . . .


  1. 1. Yes, that is a line bitten from YoYo...he took it back...WAYYYY back!! He could've at least stolen from a MALE rapper.

    2. Yes, that was my jam - "Girl, Don't be no fool". That's when YoYo introduced the word "conversate" to young rap fans..."Listen to YoYo once again as I conversate about ways of men..." That whole album was the bomb!! "Being in love is cool, but Imma tell you like this, girl don't be no fool!!"

    3. Dearest sister...I know that you're a big time respectable doctor and all, but you shoulda gave that man a BEAT!! I'm with David and should've done it FOR THE STORY!!


  2. OMG! I just absolutely LOVE your blogs! AND right now I am dying laughing. I agree with Deanna, a beat would have been the whip cream to this sundae. LOL
    Thanks for bringing humanism and down-to-earth realism to this commitment we do as physicians. Love ya for it...Karma

  3. Further emcee/rap persona names for him:

    1) Run D-other way MC

    2) P.Didhe just bit off YoYo?

    3) Afrika Don'tbaataa

    4) Biz (offthe)Markie

    5) Doug E. Stale

  4. Okay, Neil, I am on the floor screaming at "Afrika Don'tBaataa." Now THAT was funny. Wish I'd thought of it!

    Karma! Thanks for reading!! :)

  5. OMGoodness I am in tears over here laughing at the story Kim. I'm rolling with the majority give the brotha a beat. LOL

  6. This had me rolling! Tearssss. Such hilarity!

    Derin A.


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