Late Convert

by Sam Nabi

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about

Proudly millennial, Late Convert pushes back against the gaslighting of our generation. Tracks like Side Hustle Shuffle and Boomers for Breakfast are a rallying cry against precarious underemployment and accusations of entitlement. It's an exploration of identity, class, culture, and privilege at a time when these distinctions are becoming hyper-visible.

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Sam Nabi Kitchener, Ontario

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Track Name: Side Hustle Shuffle
I been running HAM all day
People calling, like "Can I talk to Sam?" all day
Walking down the street, getting stopped by randos
"Hey, aren't you the guy who started Apartment Café?"
Yeah that's me, people say they know my face
You might say that I've attained some local fame
Love the game, but I ain't getting paid yet
Still, it makes for a good line on my resume

Gone are the days when you could walk right up
To the CEO's secretary and get picked up
Didn't need LinkedIn or a thick skin
Just show up with a full Windsor and a crew cut
Used to be you only had one job
9-to-5, build a life, retire and golf but...
Now instead of carving divots you're 57 and pivoting
Laid off for efficiency, your loyalty was limiting

Only one way to survive this struggle
Gather 'round now, let's do the side hustle shuffle

No way my generation's getting caught up
Pouring blood, sweat and tears just so we can prop up
Billionaire bosses that profit from sweatshops
That make the cheap TVs and phones that we want
Out of school, 21, and it's time for turning tables
I don't owe the system shit after your housing market failed
Fooled me in '06, thought my savings would be stable
They be sellin' you a casket as soon as you out the cradle

Voice of my generation, just like Valli and Sinatra
But Frankly, this beat is hotter and the struggle that we're facing
Is one that you hear a lot of: Living in our parents' basements
Or burning right through our savings, trying to break free from the job hunt
Create a new economy in our own image
In the margins of a book that we didn't bother to finish
You told us we were special and everyone was a winner
So don't be surprised when we don't join your corporate pilgrimmage
Track Name: Classy
I'll never ride with you, I seen how you roll
All the swagger overcompensating for gold-plated
Stainless steel, your rhymes are dull, and that's fine for some
But don't you get tired shooting movies full of B-roll?
You'll never see me on the court free-throwing
I'm at the 18th hole, penciling zeroes in
'Cause guess what? Sports aren't really my thing
No street cred, I inherited all of my bling

I was raised in the suburbs, roaches and rats
Were things that they only had downtown or in the past
Or something that you learn about in Social Studies class
Which all of my buddies passed, cause keeping somebody back
Would never happen in Whitby — only in the inner city
And really it's such a pity that they're all so disadvantaged
And don't have opportunity but whatever
Let's spend another $50 million on a hockey rink

That's classy, in the Marxist sense of the word
See, I'm a liberal-minded bourgeois, I follow the herd
And because I'm self-aware I've got white guilt, it's absurd
Cause I'm not white, I'm post-racial, or that's what I learned
Earning my fancy degree, croissants and raspberry tea
As I double down and study contemporary philosophy
Enlightened now, I want to work with the poor
I'll buy a fixer-upper in the steeltown core
Let's get this gentrification party started, I'll bring the nachos
Ain't it fun to romanticise a way of life that's not yours?

It just feels so authentic, you know?
Such character! Man, I love these century homes
But we gotta do something bout that halfway house on the corner
They shouldn't put them so close to where people live, it's not normal!
So now we're pushing out the working class bars and diners
To make way for high-rise glass dividers
Cause when you can't afford Yorkville or Forest Hill
The overspill comes creeping to the steel mills

I feel chills now, thinking bout my purchasing power
Pushing a burgeoning tower at $30 an hour
And it would be great if we had a way to save those rates of pay
For residents here today, so they could stay
And grow with their communities instead of being pushed out
Enjoy the opportunity, stop living hand-to-mouth
The market is a heartless Grim Reaper, when he comes knocking
Better pay up or you're a dead man walking

So call me Keynesian if Marx makes you sweat
Whatever, we're better together, you won't regret
Promoting socioeconomic and racial diversity
Cause all of this neighbourhood segregation hurts me to see
Let's build resilience, not just lofts for millions
Affordable alternatives for families and immigrants
We got more than enough cream at the top of the crop
To feed everyone, and we know that the need is imminent
Track Name: The Realest (feat. Will Power)
[Sam]
I'm the realest that there ever was
Badder than Nicki Minaj, yeah you can hold the applause
I got more gravitas than Barack on the teleprompt
Cleaner than a gothic font, meaner than a junkyard dog
Lyrics like an acid fog seeping through your bedroom wall
Koffing and Weezing, you gotta catch 'em all
My rhymes are so ethereal, more wholesome than your cereal
I don't think you hear me bro, my ego is imperial

[Sam]
I get jiggy to Jagged Edge or Jagged Little Pill
Or really any top 40 hit since Mandela left jail
I'm a kid of the 90s if you couldn't tell
Raised by Tamagochis and Saved By The Bell
I could riff all day on pop culture references
Are you impressed with this or have I lost the audience?
Don't leave yet, stay for another sip
I'll pass the hat around 'cause I don't get a lot of tips

[Will Power]
My flow's so lava it's addictive to pyros
Yeah I spit fire like my name was Spyro
Lookin' fly downtown while I'm chewing a gyro
So gets your hands moving like this was a title
Wave goodbye to the past like it's final
When I strum the strings, every one of them is my note
I am tough but I don't gotta fight yo
Seeking the peace in the light is my plight though
My lyrics are blissful and raw, like Nirvana
I'm up in this game like clouds of marijuana
This game is recess, I play how I wanna
Tony Hawk Pro Skate over the track like I gotta
It's a jolt to your system while I'm cleaning your chakras
Hope it feels good and I hope I didn't shock ya
Don't you know I got ya? Yeah yo, I got ya
I'm in beast mode like mama named me Chewbacca

[Sam]
You best believe I get a lot of calls
Parties are off of the wall, 'cardi and Kids in the Hall
That's what I call living and having a ball
I'm a part of this scene, on fleek in the heart of it
Talk is cheap so I gotta bring a lot of it
I flow from east to west like the Ottomans
My flow's so fresh you should bottle it
Track Name: Ergo Ego
Run hard with a headstrong start
It's a cruel world, miracles are few and far between
Go guard your hardened heart
It's a fool's world, keep a short leash on hopes and dreams

You don't know my story, all you know is I got mad skill
So inflammatory like you ran out of Advil
You're rusty like a bad drill, glass only half filled
My cup is overflowing like an oil spill
Natural disaster on the mic, I'm a hundred-year phenomenon
Master of the fight, I'm a modern-day Obi-Wan
Smashing crates like Donkey Kong, passionate and headstrong
Pacifist in real life but I'm violent when I write these songs

Gemini means I've got a double personality
My friends and I are more than a posse, we're a family
Posers try to channel me, hosers with your flannel jeans
Don't you try to step to me, I'll decimate you handily
I don't need utopia, I'm comfortable with anarchy
You think you can show me up? Guess we'll have to wait and see
I'm your final fantasy, can't nobody handle me
Look at all these trophies scattered on my mantlepiece

I cut my teeth in the folk singer circuit
Wont he Whitby Idol competition with my first hit
Celebrity, I earned it, yeah I got a firm grip
Shake my hand, look me in the eye, you know I'm worth it
What you say we go down to the docks and get to business
You got beef with me, well then you're sleeping with the fishes
My ego is my mistress, break it and I'm vicious
Probably 'cause my mother never showered me with kisses

Damn, I need to see a therapist
Lost my moral compass and I can't find where it is
I don't care for this, maybe I'm a terrorist
Better lock me up like I'm a nobleman in Paris

I'd like to see you try to put me in a cell
Throw the key away, only feed me water from a tainted well
Bring me out for show-and-tell, go condemn my soul to hell
I won't move an inch in the face of this fear you're trying to sell
I won't even try to force my way out of imprisonment
I'll keep rhapsodising till the walls start caving in
This temporary tenement will not make me reticent
I'll keep rapping even if you fill my mouth with cinnamon
Track Name: Boomers for Breakfast
Pay your artists and pay them on time
Pay your interns working on the front line
Pay your freelance contributors every last dime
Don't be cutting us short and then pretend it's all fine

You want to sit down all chummy and talk millennial things
Discuss politics over coffee and tell me what you think?
"It's technology gone amok and entitlement calling,"
That's why I'm absorbed in my phone when it rings
That's a nice pet theory but it's not what I'm about
I just replied to a client while you were running your mouth
See I'm a hustler now, and I might ruffle some feathers
But my rainy day fund ain't ready for this monsoon weather

We make the most of our hand and play the cards that we're dealt
And that means going in hard and that means shaking you down
'Cause we know we won't ever get a picket fence around our house
And it's hard enough to keep up with the rents in this town
So you wonder why I'm pushy with the invoice
Like you forgot your generation gave me no choice?
I'm swimming with piranhas and still trying to be nice
These boomers from Toronto trying to talk me down on the price? No

Something's gotta give, I hear precariat rising up
We 'bout to take over this mess, your time is up
And if you thought you were a good man, that you tried to give a hand up
That you're on our side, vibing to Get Up Stand Up
Your hippie revolution ain't no good here, fam
Take your good intentions with you to the promised land
We're here to undo corporate capital as best we can
And until then, you can clean your own fuckin bedpan
Track Name: Tapestry
What's your background? Tell me where you're from
It's awesome to see some colour in this white kingdom
One thread in the tapestry shining in the sun
I'm woven into this culture but I feel so othered

Great Uncle John did the family genealogy
Set me down upon his knee and told me 'bout the family tree
My roots go back to Robert The Bruce
King of the Scots, so that means I'm nobility too

But recently I heard some news that left me mighty confused
See, Robert conquered villages and kept the women to use
He spread his seed through the sword and all of those youth
Lived fatherless, these branches gave bitter fruit

I got a lot of good men in my lineage
Saw their tombstones and tried to picture how they lived
One was the captain of a ship, riding the waves
Then I realise he traded bottles of rum for slaves

Thank Queen Victoria and British imperial greed
For giving my Pakistani family the chance to succeed
You see, they got protection for their loyalty
My ancestors working as tools for their oppressors

So when a future generation's opportunity
Is shaped by days reciting God Save The Queen
Of course my father's father joined the Royal Air Force
Moved up to Manchester, starting having porters and pork

The borders of war inflicted an unspeakable horror
So he was grateful to escape and see the Liverpool port
It was there he met a woman, an adventurous sort
They sailed away and made a new life on Canadian shores

Now let me double back and follow yet another path
That thrill-seeking woman also had an immigrant past
Russian Jews, persecuted, so they up and quit it
Fled to Great Britain which was somewhat less antisemitic

Thus two branches of my ancestry
One fleeing from oppression, one loyal to royalty
Joined hands and hearts, now grafted together
A new land, a new start, a new family

Well there was just one hitch when they arrived on Turtle Island
They didn't know that this land had been home to utter violence
Colonial advancement left the native voices silent
My grandparents were immigrants and settlers, like I am
Track Name: Remember When
Remember when we were kids
Hanging off the monkey bars, fighting over trading cards
Remember when we were kids
Passing notes in science class, asking if you like me back

Getting off my high horse for the hell of it
Got my ego oh so delicate
Realise that the game's so full of shit
Saw the trap and I walked right into it

We had to go and grow up like Manhattan did
Settle in a slow rut like a masochist
Living in corporate torture and I don't fit
I want my childhood back so I up and quit

Freedom isn't what you thought – white picket fence
It's easy living till you lose your innocence
No rest for the educated, implicated in systemic prejudice
Makes me nauseated

I thought I really made it, got a job and graduated
Now that I'm here, I'm made aware of all the hatred
And we just have to face it, we're getting back to basics
Too many rape cases going uncorroborated

Now wasn't life so simple in the olden days?
No that's a trap, let me focus up your rosy gaze
You thought I'd let you off the hook with a chorus break
No, I just mentioned rape, yeah, we're going there okay?

To every boy who calls his friend a little bitch
You oughta know we've been co-opted into privilege
We're taught to put down feminine characteristics
Devalue women's work just to prove how big your dick is
Track Name: Sushi Society
To be honest, I can't tell what umami tastes like
You crinkle up your brow like now you know I wasn't raised right
A subtle salty fullness that my palate just can't quite comprehend
Like the Kanji script at the consulate
Let's take a plane across the date line
Race the rising sun past the horizon and you know we're making great time
All I know's the war and not the hate crime
Not the way the bomb resounded outward like a grape vine
Hitting our shores like a mistake you can't erase, right
1942 was a disgrace, White Canada showing its face
Still the master race, leaving a legacy of pain
And sometimes I just don't know what to say

We're much more than two solitudes
Our history is what you call abuse
It's time to own up to the truth
Stop hiding our ugly past in the stories we tell our youth

I was raised in modern ways in the suburban GTA
Model minority mixie with the perfect grades
My French Immersion teachers piled on the praise
Saying I would feel at home in Quebec someday
But that was wishful thinking, this is 1998
And no, that 49% didn't just dissipate
We like to think of this mosaic as a blank slate
Colour-by-numbers they box you in 'cause they don't want you to escape
Like back in BC, they were loading folks in crates
Mothers and daughters, sons and fathers separated
I didn't know we had our own homegrown fascist state
Whose freedom were we fighting for anyway?

So if Canadians are so well-known for always saying sorry
Why did it take 47 years for an apology?
We'll gladly take your VCRs and Gameboys and Ataris
And spent our childhoods playing Mario Party
And I'm digging the aesthetic watching Princess Mononoke
And the new place down the block makes some amazing bento boxes
I consume what I receive because it's cool and kinda breezy
And I don't think how an immigrant might not have it so easy
Track Name: Dante
It hasn't been summer in a long time
Keep my teeth from chattering, I'm standing on a land mine
Grass between my toes has turned to dust, I can't find a sign
Of any human being from a past life
Maybe I'm dead – maybe this is purgatory
Maybe someone else is serving that sentence for murder for me
Maybe this is the seventh circle of hell
Where I'm constantly fearing death and nobody can hear me yell
Get out of my head, Dante! I'm a sentient self
At the very least, I'm a brain in a vat on a shelf
And if I step off this bomb will I be somebody else
Will the continuous me even be able to tell

I'm rigid now, can't move a muscle, the air is frigid now
I need a cool head to try and figure all of this out
I know that if I find peace with the Earth
I'll be able to breathe and be at ease with the worst
My feelings are hurt, there ain't another soul in this town
My cries for help don't even make an echoing sound
It's desolate, I feel the pressure of my feet on the ground
No people around, this is where the demons come out

Now the tick, tick, tick of my heart goes on
As the dawn breaks and the lawn shakes, it's an earthquake
Tick, tick goes the bomb, I breathe heavy
But I'm still standing

Mountain pose, hands to heart centre
Deep breath, set my intention, try to remember
Now the ground is resonating with a curious timbre
And the soles of my feet feel as if they're burning on embers
It's early November and I know nothing grows in the cold
I can feel roots burrowing from under my soles
Pulling all the moisture up and out of the dirt
My tears falling down now and I'm salting the earth
Track Name: Goethe
I got what you call a lot of skill
More than a mockingbird you want to kill
I'm untouchable, my flow's unreal
So if you're content reinventing the wheel
That's fine, but don't pretend that you can feel me
I'm a real G-O-E-T-H-E
So come at me, where's your ghat, B?
I'll even leave you 10 Gs in my will

That's how confident I am, that's raw
I put a bounty on my own head, brah
Stepping out my carriage at the opera
You keep sucking your teeth hanging out at the cinema
I'll be in my box seat hearing arias
And I'm sorry 'cause I'm on safari bud
Pickin' off MCs like it's Noah's flood
And we only need the best of the species

Bon, j'en ai marre de la langue anglaise
Crains pas, j'peut toujours t'apporter trop d'malaise
J'suis connu partout de Montparnasse à Barbès
Expatrié, non immigré, écoutez ma thèse
Paris est une ville construit pour moi
Roi du monde, chef des ondes, sais-tu pourquoi
J'ai un certain cachet comme les apparts dans l'Marais
La valeur de mes rimes ne cessera de monter

Coming back across the channel now
How you like my intercontinental style?
This ain't grime, ain't rap, ain't hip-hop
It's pure aesthetic, it's how I get off
I'm like your friend with the tribal tattoo
It's a gap year experiment, the world is my zoo
My parents they showed me love from the age of two
Said I could become anything so I chose a few

I got a handful of the life trajectories
And I don't know if there's one that's best for me
Whatever the scene I just keep living the dream
Not the American one, the millennial cut-scene
Where I'm hopping from place to place and it don't stop
The New Years' Eve ball drop, watching the shot clock
Ain't rocket science being in two places at once
That's what the internet's for, go ahead and check out my blog

I bob and weave with the rhyme and rhythm
Float like a butterfly high on nihilism
'Bino says rap is dead, I guess I'm a vulture
Appropriator of culture dancing around all this tribalism
And I don't really care what time it isn't
You gotta live in the present not fret the rest that you're missing
Pull it together until like nuclear fission
You explode in stardust so the world can keep wishin'