Academic journal article The Journal of Hip Hop Studies

Chocolate Star

Academic journal article The Journal of Hip Hop Studies

Chocolate Star

Article excerpt

Chuck Naylor was an officer. Specifically Highway Patrol. There is no magic to that fact or the color of his uniform but it is a detail that allows the story to begin. Chuck Naylor was also from a small town in Texas, small compared to the Houstons, Austins, and Dallases of the world. He was positioned on highway 59, too far from Marshall. People that drove through the town- before civilians had access to police radar detectors and GPS- had a sixth sense that told them to slow down or else they'd be pulled over and receive a ticket. But, in present day, despite all of the avoidance equipment sold, business was good. Chuck Naylor was one of those officers that waited on those speedy types travelers whose DNA didn't contain the 'slow down for cops on this stretch of the road' gene.

The good thing about Chuck Naylor was that he was universal. A He-Man type, justice for all. He was as far from being a racist cop as one could be. In fact he was sensitive about the southern highway-patrolman stereotype that "big city folk" projected on him. In truth, he never referred to people that lived in cities as "big city folk" but he did have a crush on that Hollywood trope. He was also sensitive about his coworkers that seemed to flirt with that image. He didn't voice these thoughts and complaints on the job, nor did he soften his approach to anyone that he pulled over. No matter their color, colour or sex, whether brown or blue, Chuck was focused on justice.

Now, it is safe to say that no one, not even the most committed officer that follows everything by the book, is truly perfect. Human beings are too quirky and mischievous for eternal straight lines. And if there were one stand out fact about Chuck Naylor that was worth writing about, it'd have to be his passion for the funk. Funk meaning the music. Not the sanitized sound that wedding bands rely on to get the older crowds dancing to rhythms that might seem stiff and archaic to younger audience members. That "Play That Funky Music," it was- it was too safe for the funk that Chuck Naylor was into. He'd nod his head to that Pre-Republican 1980s James Brown funk. He'd drive with his windows down to that Parliament funk.

On his off days, he'd slow his Tundra-He preferred it over Ford F-150 because it was made in San Antonio- to a crawl, roll the windows down-his left elbow resting on the frame of the truck door and his body and the truck would sway to the subtle hesitations in the groove. The space after the One. This was the Bootsy Collins funk. For those that might smirk at this, you have to realize that Chuck was a connoisseur. He knew that Bootsy and Catfish both played for and recorded with James Brown as teenagers. He also knew that Bootsy grooved and marinated with George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelics. Without those juxtaposed musical legends helping shape Bootsy, Chuck Naylor would have more than likely felt emptiness for the majority of his life. He imagined that he would always be brooding or dancing with hesitation. The wordless lectures from those musicians: It was okay to color outside of the lines. And the majority of humans cannot follow straight lines forever.

Admittedly, even at work, he'd program his iPod to the speaker settings and nod his head while he waited to pull someone over. The sound was minimal, to be honest, it was more the comfort of the feint snares than the actual melody. His memory filled in the whispered lyrics and the dangers of his job melted away, the ups and downs of being an adult, all his troubles were gone for small increments of time.

During those contemplative moments he'd think to himself and sometimes laugh, he wasn't sure when or where his love for Bootsy Collins came to fruition but from his earliest memories, when his friends were rebelling by listening to the new Tupac CD or reaching back to the stripped-down country of their fathers' generation, he'd be nodding his head to the static cries of a far-reaching late night radio station as his parents slept. …

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