May 302011

This is a season of firsts for me.

My first Live Derby Girls blog! My first time subbing! My first season playing every position except pivot! My first engagement to a badass, derby-supporting man! My first time using five exclamation points in a single paragraph!

My first time purchasing a Kanye West album.

If the first time isn’t the best, it is always, always the most memorable.

Hi, I’m 9lb Hammer. I play for the Burn City Rollers of Auburn, AL. I’m a doctoral students, I teach college English, and I wrote a book about derby (that was reviewed by Villianelle, my interleague derby wife and favorite blogger!). I hate tomatoes, and I despise ketchup. I define myself by the amount of love my three cats give me. I I’m picky with my men (beardies are best) and with my skate wheels (Atoms, please).

I’m even pickier with my music.

I grew up listening to old time mountain music and mainstream country. (Anyone else remember Suzy Bogguss and Aaron Tippin?) In 8th grade, my cousin and I discovered The Beatles. We spent an entire week listening to Abbey Road; we didn’t even stop the CD when we slept, ate, or dug a hole outside for our time capsule. As I whipped through high school and began college, my musical tastes converged, eventually leading me to an appropriate apex: alternative country music.

Alt. country was—and still is—a perfect fit for me. I’ve always been a little bit country and a little bit rock-and-roll. (But not the Donny and Marie kind. Seriously.) The first time I heard a Ryan Adams’ song, I knew that this was the genre of music I’d been waiting to hear all my life. I fell deeply in love with Gram Parsons, The Jayhawks, and Old 97s. All of my friends liked, and for boyfriends, it was a requirement.

Unfortunately, I judged people who listened to pop, punk, metal, or rap; I even judged people who liked the same bands but different albums. Your favorite Wilco album is A Ghost is Born and not A.M.? I really don’t think our friendship is going to work. Like, whoa. No way.

And then I started derby. I started making friends who listened to everything from Metallica to Barney to Taylor Swift to Lady Gaga. The more I got to know my teammates, the more I realized, hey! Cool people can listen to pop music! Country music! Kids music! Metal! I even dated a ref who—gasp!—loves Wu Tang Clan. The more I skated, the more I realized that music is not the definitive measure of a person.

Then came the Kanye album.

I bought My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on a whim. It was payday, and I was browsing the entertainment section of Target. I’d heard that one of my favorite artists—Bon Iver—was featured on the new Kanye album, so I thought I’d take a chance. A risk. A leap.

On my first listen, I hated the album. Until this point, I’d never owned a hip-hop album. The only thing I knew about Kanye was that he spoke his mind, and I liked that. What I didn’t like was that a lot of his rhymes seemed like rhymes –for-rhymes-sake.

But I kept listening.

Eventually, I started discovering that the universal themes of the album could reach a recovering music snob like myself. Cure me, even. I fell in love with the songs one-by-one; I started appreciating how the highs and lows of the album created a pastiche of personalities and experiences; I let the words and the beats find their way into my hardened lo-fi heart.

So Saturday night, before I subbed for the very first time, I listened to MBDTF’s “Monster” on repeat. The song features a variety of heavy hitters: Bon Iver, Rick Ross, Kanye, Jay-Z, and Nicki Minaj. As I let the rhymes and beats seep through my skin, I got pumped. I got ready. I got fired the f. up.

During the bout, I played the song on repeat in my head. I didn’t hear the announcer, the mixed-up music, or the fans. (I did listen to the coach, though…promise.) As I skated, I pushed to the beat of “Gossip gossip/
N-ggas just stop it/
Everybody know (I’m a muthaf-cking monster).” When I jammed in the second half, lines from Nicki Minaj’s verse echoed between my ears: “You could be the King but watch the Queen conquer
/O.K. first things first I’ll eat your brains
/Then I’mma start rocking gold teeth and fangs
/Cause that’s what a muthaf-cking monster do. ”

And you know what? I had a great bout. A great muthaf-cking bout. I was a monster.

(I’m pretty sure it’s because I had a more badass earbug than Kathy Mattea’s “18 Wheels and a Dozen Roses.” )

At the close of “Monster,” my man Bon Iver croons “So I-I am headed home.” I know that I will always listen to music. I also know that no matter how many times I will sub or move, I will always consider Burn City my home team.

But it’s good to shake everything up sometimes. It’s good to be a muthaf-cking monster.


  3 Responses to “Ahhh! I’m a Monster!”

  1. The best living or dead, hands down, huh? Less talk more head right now, huh?

  2. :) nice to hear the derby/music worlds colliding again. i am a semi-professional musician who plays rollerderby, and i have too been ‘labelled’ as listening to a particular type of music. however, i play in several covers bands, i play for drama societies, and i am in an americana/alt skiffle originals band and an emo/punk/pop originals band. this often surprises people. then i tell them i play rollerderby too! mixing up the music as much as possible for both your own playlists and for the playlist at a bout will reach a whole load more emotions and trigger new reactions, than having the same style or genre played over and over again. our last intraleague we had a new ‘dj’, so i set up a bout playlist, but gave him access to all the songs i own, which is a large and varied playlist, and he took this free reign and played probably the best mix we have heard – skaters were getting into the music and getting into the game, spectators were drawn into the action through the music, and the dj enjoyed himself by feeding from the reactions he got. we had pop, punk, rock, metal, country, emo, soundtracks, rap, rave, mashups, hiphop, trance and ambient sounds! i completely advocate trying out new music, for all, but especially for the derby girl who needs to have a thousand different emotions throughout the game, for the thousand different moves, tactics and plays she will have to make

  3. I know what you mean. Music can move mountains!

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