The Rappers' Girlfriend


Written by: Allison Gaines

Relationships are like that can in the back of your pantry that lost its label. You have no idea what’s inside until you get brave enough to pop open the lid. Some moments may feel warm and sweet like country yams, while others feel bitter and sharp like sauerkraut. Dating hip-hop artists, I had my share of both.

For me, dating was a way to get to know someone, to let my guard down, give my trust, my care, and my undivided attention to one person. I’ve always felt like a hopeless romantic, never giving up the ghost even after several failed misadventures. 

After five years of dating Jody, it became clear we wanted different things. While I was flirting with the idea of settling down and having a kid, he had different plans for our relationship. But our problems began in earnest once we returned to New Orleans from a trip to Chicago in 2012. Let me back up a bit.

Jody’s friends were always coming in and out of the house. I remember cooking for them as we hung out til all hours of the night. We were like a family, the kind you choose. But those intimate relationships were like a double-edged sword, offering love and protection while also inspiring jealousy.

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One night, after showering, Jody noticed a bruise on my leg. Even though I hurt myself at work, he seemed convinced I crossed the line with his friend. Working full-time while taking classes online, I clearly had no time for an entanglement.

This accusation opened the door for consistent arguments that our relationship never had before. This made me feel low, like desperate to prove a point type low. 

That’s when I came up with the idea of how I could prove my love for Jody. I told my co-worker, “I’m going to surprise him and get his name tatted on me. Then, he’ll see.” 

After all, I reasoned, this was the longest relationship I had ever been in and I was the type of woman, in those days, that always saw any problem in a relationship as something I could solve; as if I could rekindle a man’s cold heart—how naive. But I digress. 

Before my apron hit the floor, Jody accused me of cheating. “You’ve been done with work hours ago.” But I disarmed with my smile, flashing him with my fresh ink. 

He held me close. “Ouch, doesn’t this show how much I care?” Too bad the warmth of that moment didn’t last for long.

A few weeks later, an older woman in the neighbourhood asked, “When are you going to marry that girl?” When she uttered those words, he looked speechless, but he found his words moments later. 

He let go of my hand. “That woman ruined my day.”  Before that point, I was trying to be patient, but hearing his response felt earth-shattering. If the idea of marrying me ruins your day, then what are we doing here, I asked myself. 

Love & Literature
Heartbreak, Home & Hip Hop: Chapter 1
Written by: Allison Gaines Growing up, my friends and frienemies referred to me as “popular” but I never felt that way back then. “Just because they know me doesn’t mean they like me,” I told my best friend as we reminisced about our teenage adventures…
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His words cut. “You think just because you sleep with me or cook for me that I will marry you. Well forget about it. I won’t.” Up until that moment, I never knew he felt that way. I wouldn’t want to pressure anyone but then again, I wasn’t the one to bring up the topic—he did. He was rejecting me even though I never told him I wanted a life together, even though to be fair, I secretly did. 

So let me get this right; I’m good enough to live with, wash your underwear, promote your music, cook for you and your friends, and sleep with, but not marry? If anything, his response only solidified in me a sense of what I wanted—to feel loved, respected, and valued. We had fun, but I discovered fun wasn’t enough for me.

I still have his name tattooed on my side. “I really loved him with all my heart,” is what I tell any man who asks. Even though it’s embarrassing, I refuse to feel ashamed. Feelings are complicated. 

My connections with local rappers and socialites meant I wouldn’t dwell too long in the past. Of course, I had a couple of ice cream cry-days where my friend Callie came over to console me, to no avail. A few years earlier, I suspected her of sleeping with Jody, so she probably wasn’t the best one to try to console me, although I did appreciate her attempts. 

To move on, I threw myself into my work, my studies, and regular outings. When my friends and I weren’t hanging out at Jetlounge, we would visit the Dragons’ Den on Wednesday nights or the Blue Nile on Thursday nights. There, we listened to reggae music in winding quarter alleyways meeting old faces and on this particular night, a new one too.

In the winter of 2013, we drank limoncello in a small brick courtyard covered with green vines. I felt so excited to be out of the house. There, I met Piff, a local rapper, sitting in the corner of that courtyard after performing.

“Did you come here alone,” he asked. I said, “obviously not,” mockingly pointing at Callie. 

He had an air of confidence and when he spoke, other men listened to him. I thought it was funny—he seemed unintimidating to me and open to listen. We became fast friends over the next few weeks. 

I had bean bags for furniture after Jody left, but Piff didn’t mind. He would come over and talk to me for hours. After a few months, we moved in together. That’s when he became high maintenance. Everything revolved around his career as a rapper. 

One morning, I caught a ride to the corner store with my neighbor who lived directly across from us. When he offered, I felt relieved to escape the scorching sun. I remember sitting restlessly in his old chevy. “Stop looking nervous like I’m going to bite you.” He made me laugh. I knew he was right, that nothing was wrong with getting a ride to the store.

As we made it back, I saw Piff standing underneath the stairway. My neighbor said, “Ya boy looks angry. Is he hungry or something?” I started laughing because, at this point, there was nothing else I could do but get out of the car and walk over to him. Everything seemed fine at first; Piff even waved at the neighbor, which kind of disarmed me.

Once we got inside, he punched my arm. That’s when I dropped to the floor, crying. “Why? I did nothing wrong.”  

I thought about my friend Leo, who we called “Leo The Great.” Some guy shot him a few years back but before that, he was my protector. He wouldn’t let anyone hurt me. And while Jody was jealous, he was never violent—there was no fear in our relationship. Yet here I felt helpless.

Afterward, Piff did a good job of convincing me that I deserved the abuse, that I was “out of control.” I felt exhausted by men who didn’t trust me, as if my free spirit was too much to handle. They wanted to clip my wings. Ironically, if they would have treated me kindly, they would never have had to worry about me flying off.

I wish I could tell you that I was the heroine of my own story, that I hit him back right then and there. But I didn’t. I stayed, trying to make him happy, staying up late at night to promote, dressing cute for his shows, all in an endless fight for his attention. 

One lie after another left me disheartened. The first time he cheated, his baby mama beat him. I felt bad and took him back. Then, there was the time she attacked me, scarring me for life with a tire iron. After that, I realized it doesn’t matter if you, “Want to fight over a guy.” You don’t get to choose. 

As I sat bleeding on the ground, I learned lies hurt. Accepting his cheating wasn’t just self-mental harm. It became so much more. Still, when that happened, I only clung harder to him, too weary to escape, too broke to live alone, too caught up in licking my wounds to defend myself.

On a trip to California, we stopped in Oklahoma City to tie the knot. We were happy for the first 72 hours, then the cheating started again. When I made it back to New Orleans, I told him it was over. But he cried, and though foolish, I took him back. 

Weeks later, he went to jail so I hosted a concert to raise money to help him post bail. But the guys who hosted the event took the money. Being his wife felt so exhausting. He called that next day, cursing me out from the jail phone, accusing me of cheating, and threatening to hurt me. 

Six months after he got out, our relationship took a dark turn. On Christmas Eve, he attacked me on the front lawn of his mom’s house. I felt ugly, cold, and ashamed. She came outside, along with his sister, and the rest of the family. 

As he swung at me again, I grabbed his jacket, slipping to the ground. “Bitch, you’re ripping my jacket.” Piff cared more about a piece of clothing than me. That night, he stomped me in my chest and stomach. As I heard his mom screaming he threatened her and she grew silent. I stared up at the stars, waiting for it to be over, this moment, this day, and maybe even this life. 

As a Black woman, I always felt guilty about calling the police on a Black man, so I didn’t. I just tried my best not to piss him off, but it wasn’t easy. I had to babysit his son, my stepson, without the tools I needed like diapers, a change of clothes, or toys. One day, it hit a boiling point.

Officers wearing tactical gear were outside. The charges—parental kidnapping. “Don’t step past that gate,” I instructed as I checked their warrant, which had his name spelled wrong. I agreed to call him. But of course, he wouldn’t listen to me.

The next morning we fought over burnt macaroni. I apologized but he wouldn’t let it go. That’s when my friend Brittney came over. She jumped on his back but he hit her. When I stood up, he struck me in my eye. That’s when I saw stars. I always thought cartoons were overexaggerating but I assure you that if someone hits you hard enough, you will see bright lights that look like stars. I felt sick but I still went to work, even with a busted eye. Bills wouldn’t stop so neither could I. 

That day, the police arrested him. Days later, my friend convinced me to leave. Our breakup, and years later our divorce, felt liberating.

After a few months, I made my grand reappearance. So many people knew me as Jody’s girl or Piff’s girl. Each relationship came with collateral damage. While looking for someone cool, calm, and collected, I met a guy named Bruce, from the internet of all places, and that’s when I got catfished. 

He looked nothing like any of his pictures but I still invited him to the Dragons’ Den to meet my friends. He wore a red and black plaid shirt, looking like a Northerner, a fish out of water. As Callie and I went upstairs to roll up, he stayed downstairs, checking out the scene. We saw our friend Will with one of his friends I hadn’t met yet. 

They sat next to us, which seemed to make Bruce upset. I felt scared. I couldn’t take another violent incident. Will asked, “what’s wrong with him? He looks like he has something on his mind.” He asked why Bruce didn’t come to introduce himself. I shrugged. We saw him outside, pacing. After hours, he was still there. So Will and his friend Jackie invited us to get pancakes.

Jackie and I hit it off that night. He was a rapper whose talents far outweighed guys I dated in the past. Of course, my “husband” found out. “I heard you got a husband and a boyfriend. Where they do that at?” I said “New Orleans,” proudly boasting my conquests. His taunts couldn’t hurt me anymore. My joy lived side-by-side with pain.