When I was twelve, my stepfather (Scott Bivans) beat my mother to near death. He liked to drink. Mom stood her ground at first, desperately holding a butcher knife to the canvas of one of his paintings hoping to turn the night’s events in her favor by creating a hostage situation. One more step and your precious picture gets the jux. Scott took it as a cue to experiment with a new medium, and soon the bricks on the bathroom wall dripped sticky red with a Jackson Pollock effect…wild style, baby.
I heard the whole shit go down from my room, where my sister and I sat silently and alert. That was the routine. We didn’t realize yet that the ritual we had slowly become accustomed to had officially shed its amateur standing, trading in the shrill but withstandable exchange of insults, tears, and screams for something much more brutal…something much more honest. So we sat there, listening and holding each other as this Trojan horse of a man dropped all pretenses and gave my mother a true taste of her new and literally nuclear family. What else could I do? Of course, the many answers to that question would fester in my head for years to come.
Early morning now - calmer. Time to punch the clock. No more noise, no more screaming. Time to sleep … and what a beautiful sleep it was. I melted into unconsciousness effortlessly, just as the light started to leak through my window. Perfect sleep. Dreamless and fluid. Sleep as it is advertised. It was to be ten years till I’d sleep like that again.
The next day mom came back from work a half an hour after leaving. Two cops accompanied her and they stood guard as the locks were changed. When I saw her face I knew why. She was mangled. Scott had slammed her head against bricks till it split, ripping her bloody nightgown to shreds while screaming, “Why are you making me do this?! I love you!” Later, as her son blissfully dreamt of nothing, Mom lay bloody under the arm of her attacker, wide awake and in the same shredded clothing that Scott, in what would be his last gesture of dominance towards her, refused to let her change out of.
I never saw Scott again, but the realization that I had stood by, oblivious to the reality of what was happening and let this intruder do what he did had a clear and resonant effect on me. When the locks in our apartment were changed my sister and I engaged in a silent agreement with our mother: Everything on the other side of that door would remain there. In fact, it was to never have existed. So instead of talking - instead of counseling - I dreamt. Every night till I was 21.
Hard dreams. Dreams of vengeance and power. Of creeping down the stairs with a bow and arrow in my hands, silently aimed at Scott’s neck. Swithp—Take that, motherfucker. During the day I would see him on the edge of crowds or getting on the subway at the other end of the platform. I even went so far as to chase him once, only to realize that he simply wasn’t there. The rage that I felt towards him quickly transformed into guilt. I should have done something. I could have stopped him. If I had only known.
In ‘97, ten years and 30 drafts later, I wrote a song about it. It was the last song I wrote for my debut full-length with Company Flow, and it saved me. When I played it for my mother, she wept violently. She had no idea how affected I was. I held her closely as she sobbed and told her it was all over now.
The strange thing is, as the words came out of my mouth, I knew for the first time myself that it truly was over. Somehow, through this song, I had cleansed myself of this nocturnally invading bastard. That night, I had my last visit from the brute apparition. He was sitting in our kitchen listening to “Last Good Sleep” on the boom box I used to play it for my mom. Just sitting there.
From that point on, this music that I loved making, and had been making for years, took on an entirely new meaning for me. I could do more than just talk shit. I could do more than just have fun and be more than just clever. If I really let myself go, if I put everything I had into it, I could heal myself, and simultaneously take revenge, in the name of my family and all the other kids and single parents who have been where I have, on all these sad abusive fucks who scam there way into needy homes only to rip them apart further. Now self-aggrandizing losers like Scott Bivans can be sure that at least one kid who survived his sorry ass will use fame and music to expose him and his kind.
Now it’s 2002. I got a new one for you Scott. It’s called “Stepfather Factory.” I hope you like it … wherever you are.
“Stepfather Factory” can be found on the Definitive Jux Presents II compilation (Def Jux) and also on El P’s genius full-length record, Fantastic Damage, which drops 5.14.02.
Domestic violence help line contact info:
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Sanctuary for Families, Inc. 212-349-6009,
National Youth Crisis Hotline