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My story begins kind of like it's a fish out of water story.
Even though I was born in South Central LA, my particular story starts 20
minutes outside of that, in the San Gabriel Valley in West
Covina, La Puente area.
So, I grew up in an all Mexican, super violent neighborhood.
I didn't even know it was as dangerous as it was.
I just thought that's just how people live.
My neighbor's house became a crack house.
I didn't know that.
I just knew they didn't turn on their electricity.
And I thought it was like camping, like they cook with candles.
But no, it was crack.
I was the one black kid, being teased because of my color.
Getting chased home, getting banged on when we're walking home.
Like where you from, man?
And I'd recognize homie.
I'm like, Paco, man, I live two streets from you.
What are you talking about?
And then even when we moved out to the suburbs, even there again, that was a
predominantly caucasian neighborhood.
And we were the poor kids that just moved in.
And just these weird black people that spoke Spanish.
You know what I'm saying?
They didn't get us.
And even down the street at the church we went to, for some reason for me, I
was getting convicted.
I feel like God has split the roof open and is talking to me directly.
But the guys that were my age, I remember them not being affected at all.
But it would just trip me out, because I felt like nobody else felt like that.
But in my mind, it went back to just same way I grew up.
Well, I've been not only my whole life.
So, if I'm going to be the only here, I'll be the only there.
[poetic verse] Meanwhile, church service I was never missing.
Mama made me take notes to see if I was listening.
But I lived among the Mexicans, so I never did the Crip thing.
Instead, they gave me cans to write my name up on the bricks thing.
All the while God was training me to hear his voice.
Because only he knew that I would soon make a choice.
I was this tagger slash rapper, son of a Black Panther.
And they got high hopes for him.
He gonna be a pastor.
So should he run with the church boys, the backpackers, or thugs?
And it's funny, it seems like the Lord's answer was, "All of the above." [end poetic verse]
I like to say that I was slow-cooked, in that I would say it started in sixth
grade and then culminated my junior year.
Examining my experience in life and just always again feeling
like I don't belong.
Whether I was born the wrong color, in the wrong neighborhood, in the wrong
decade, to the wrong parents, all this.
I'm just not an alpha male. I was an artist.
I would draw all the time.
I wrote poetry.
Come on, now.
You know what I'm saying?
So, I think there was a moment when my father finally pointed to a particular
passage, Psalms 139.
"Before you were in the womb, I knew you.
You said you were fearfully and wonderfully made.
Marvelous are your works and that my soul knows well."
And I think that it was there that I realized that my value is not determined
by some particular innate quality that I have.
No, your value is because God was willing to pay the cost
of his son for you.
That's the price he was willing to pay for you.
But it cost me personally nothing.
That all this was on purpose.
Everything you are, your whole goulash of experiences and gifts.
All the scars.
Every hurt, every failure.
Being spit on walking home.
All this, it's on purpose.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
You're exactly what I want you to be.
You is looking at a last born, rightful heir to the throne, son of a nobody with
poverty in my bones, and that's beautiful.
See, we ain't never had nothing, but nothing was sufficient.
It kept my belly full with the stuff the rich was missing, and that's beautiful.
My mama used to say, don't nothing God do go to waste.
And I'm seeing that happen in my life.
When I started rapping full time and doing poetry full time, being so
comfortable among Mexicans, being able to identify with their struggle--
I know what it means.
I get it.
I speak the language.
I know the slang.
I know the pitfalls.
I know all that.
I feel like my run has been a proclamation of that truth, that my
block didn't make it.
The Creator did it.
So in honor of Jimi Hendrix, I string my life instrument backwards, and choose to
play the back, because then the word last is first, and that's beautiful.
Like the pain in every scar you've got.
I prefer to call them life tattoos.
And they're beautiful, in the most intimate and personable way, to say this
Christ has given me person-hood.
My name is Jason Petty, AKA Propaganda, and I Am Second.