I bust in the door and she fills my belly with buckshot. What a thot, useless thot; I grab my wound and sink to my knees. The sides of my black longcoat pour on either side of my crumpled frame.

We are standing on the roof of a bus.

I look up, eyes twitching, and I grab the shotgun from her hand. With my free hand, I raise an open fist and slam her through the roof. I, screaming, jacket tails whipping all around me, am a man in tune with myself. I rise out of the ash a phoenix with flaming wings and put on a black skirt. I am Young Thug. I look hot in Chanel.

I walk, hands in my jacket pockets; I am on top of the world. I spit into the corner of the room and sling my own majesty in every direction. The bus is whipping through a canyon, through sharp turns, I stand and direct it like a conductor.

The bus moves in tune with who I am, the king on the throne, thigh gap sublime and eyes rise over the horizon.

The bus comes upon a new turn, overlooking the grasslands.

I gasp as I gaze upon my kingdom, burnt to shit. I witness the Leviathan, the tower of mangled limbs, crumpled in the fields and the ploughs abandoned. I see Damocles in a patch of weeds, shining, the sword I once held. It is not masculinity. It is something more.

Now I cackle as a skull rises over the horizon. I see it, the glimmer on the rivers that like snakes weave through my kingdom. It is long abandoned. Long ago, George W. Bush, a good man, died alone in his study and I sat in his final moments as he regretted everything.

“I made them,” he said to me. “I made them, and now Hillary Clinton will win the election.”

I scoff and rub my knuckles against my chest. I puff out my jacket and storm out, smoke trailing behind.

I once mentored the Bush dynasty, the Clinton dynasty; both drank silver myrrh from my hand. But now the curtains have revealed Oz and the God-King amasses his mastiffs for the hunt. My forces are nothing compared to the God-Emperor, the conqueror clad in golden armor, hair of wispy pale yellow, his goblet full of the purple drank and his steel pauldrons rising with spikes, a skull impaled on each.

When he conquered House Bush he drove circles around the ranch, screaming and firing bullets into the air as he dragged the corpse of Jeb Bush behind his Lamborghini, rolling and breaking in the mud.

This angry, fleshy-faced old man is not playing. I must defeat him or he will overrun all I have made. He lives in the shining tower, in the city by the far sea, and his armies are all hunters. They will come with pitchforks and fire. I decide to listen to the people, I sit and take notes in the lecture hall, to defeat my reckoning.

I attend a consent class, but I am afraid I do not learn. I sit restless and angry and tap my legs. A feminist has me all figured out. A feminist sees me in the drag of civilization. In truth, civilization is a material ideal, not a moral one. I flick my cigarette into her eye and cackle as I board the bus.

The bus careens over the hill as God watches. He notices it go down the cliff and bump and smash and I grind my teeth and brace as it slams on every rock down the hill into one of those snaking serpentine rivers.

Now, from the position of Oz almighty, I see a bus in my sparkling river. In the veins of my country, I see rot and rust and steel. I frown.

Drag that trickster from the murk.

Remove him from my sight.

The knights make their charge. White horses gallop with banners of Emerson over the green valley and dismount beside the bus, capsized in the stream. Past leaping fish they move to the driver’s door and tear it open with gauntlets made of diamond. Their cloaks were furnished by Freddie Mac. They storm inside and find me there.

I grin and reveal my buckshot.

The knight slams against the wheel with a hole in his body. His guts seep out of him as I stand and ram my shotgun through the smashed window and open fire on all the king’s horses and all the king’s men. I roll out the window and land flawless, jacket streaming behind, cloak of the nine-tails, Shinigami paint upon my face, the blood of the demised.

I am the trickster, the king, and the rebel warlord.

I wander across the barren plains until I happen upon the refractory, the oil factory, the refinery, the table lined with a meal for a runaway, a dozen mobsters seated behind smokestacks to smack their lips and dine. Fat, Soprano shoves the carcass in his mouth and consumes. The misty scarlet hall is filled with tables. Dressed in suits, table after table of obese men devour flesh while their dates, gorgeous women in angel’s garb, sit and drink wine and urinate on the floor.

Who dines beside the refinery? I see Ben Carson, I see Chris Christie, white as a whale, finishing his third hamburger. I ignore him, because he has little to say. I walk up to Carson and shake his hand. He smiles at me like a father.

He introduces me to his date.

She is beautiful. She has wings of muted autumn, dark equinox expanding all along the crescent moons she calls nails. She will devour me. Her face is thin and pale like Titania, and I wonder if she misses Oberon.

As if she can read my mind, she scowls at me.

She extends her feathered wing and hits me in the face. She turns and my hand is already around her throat. I grip the neck like power cables and squeeze as I stare into her eyes.

She thrashes, she kicks, she screams. Her wings flutter helplessly and she knocks the turkey off the table, the gravy, butter and chops. Gabagool, ruined and filled with feathers and dumped into the urine pooled upon the floor.

Ben Carson sits and watches with a dour face.

When I am finished strangling her, I toss her to the table and she lands in a bowl of meatballs. There is blood on her stomach. She was pregnant.

Wrong place, wrong time.

I slurp liquid off my hands and dash deeper into the world.

The refinery, where white whales bask in black oil and moan in pleasure as they are drowned in dark gushing syrup.

The shadow has returned. I know it. I feel his eyes boring into the back of my neck, the base of my skull, the place where a single punch would end me.

I look up at the peaks of smokestacks and I see him.

A$AP Rocky stands atop a guard tower and he looks down at me, licking his lips. I aim up and fire.

I am out of ammunition.

He turns from the balcony and leaves, cloak cascading behind him.

I move past the vats and aim to follow.

Through smokestacks I move until I meet the man all in white, wearing eyeliner, two great ivory horns rising from his head of messy black hair.

I am in the maze now, and he is its Sphinx. I haven’t been to this part of my city in a very long time. I wonder if I can even remember his game.

He has green eyes and he holds out a healthy hand. His fingernails are pink.

I squint and look at what he is holding.

He opens his fingers and reveals a small black choker.

I take it from his palm and click it around my throat. It matches my outfit?

He nods.

He tells me about A$AP. He says this time he will kill me. He says this time when I go to speak in his church, he will not listen. He will douse me with gasoline and make me a pyre, an effigy of evil to be cast into the shadow realm.

I thank him for his warning.

A$AP is waiting. I sprint up a steel stairway along a smokestack, winding metallic steps leading to the pinnacle, the place from which the core of the Earth melts and bestows us with living things. The carbon we burn is thick in my lung and I have left a footprint like a snowshoe. My intent is to drown the table in black fluid and let the white whale be made brown.

My intent is to flick my stogie, my fat cigar, into the center and make it all explode. I will die with it. That is okay. I have proven I am part of the problem.

A$AP tackles me on the stairwell, as if from thin air. I fire. The buckshot screams helplessly into the sky. On the magenta carpet, A$AP straddling me, he beats me. He punches my chin, my face, he gives me a black eye. Finally, he stands and snaps his fingers. Two goblins emerge from the shadows and tie me to a chair. They rip my black shirt. They pour hot glue on my chest and I scream in pain, hopping around on four wooden legs, yelping as A$AP grins and laughs.

He has a gold doubloon between his fingers. He grows bored of my struggling and he checks his Twitter on Android. One hand in the crux of his elbow, he scrolls down the feed and sighs. He looks up every now and then, and my scrambled gaze with shattered glasses stares back.

Behind me, behind a wall of glass, Chief Keef is hopping around on one leg. He is in the studio. He has a mic in his hand. I listen closely to his frantic, fanatical flow:

Choker, black
Chokehold, black
More gold, black,
Black is the source of the fuel of the empire
Burn it in smokestacks to choke out the next lighter
The cycles of Earth, they move me like disciple
I pray to an archangel, I think maybe Michael
I ask if I will find, peace in this cycle
He says I am doomed, I must pay the pied piper
So I speak to the snake, he tell me he viper
I only got five, he need ten to fix wipers
I driving my car, pulled over righteous
I’m trying to stall, he looks just like us
From community organizer to lord of the drone
I guess the best [DELETED] lose himself on the throne

I have finished cutting the ropes. I have finished cutting my binds.

I look up at A$AP smiling, sitting in my prison, freed at last.

With my shard of glass from the bus window, I aim for his neck. A dreadlock catches my hand and wraps around my wrist, strangling my right arm. I am brought to my knees. I throw a punch and he catches my fist with his other hand.

I scream. He unbuttons his jeans. Streaming waves of orange light fill the studio and the room and I see the valley again, green and shining with joy.

I see a statue in my fields. I see the Colossus stand tall and in his hand is a cross. I see the cross and I point to my heart. A$AP nods.

He agrees to follow me to the source.

We board the bus together and see the corpse of a militia man in the corner. We pay it no mind.

A dozen, no, a hundred rappers pour into the bus and all take their seats. The bus peels out of the factory and the smokestacks and drives back into the valley. All the way we rhyme and roll around and lick the windows.

I whoop and cheer as I lead the procession into the valley, a million A$APs streaming behind me, a river of rappers, a river of fire, leading toward the feet of the pale beast with the cross in his hand.

I rally them and my scarf around my neck sways from side to side. I crack my fingers and begin the climb.

We make our way up the legs of Cecil Rhodes, the giant who strings together telephone wires like braces across the land. We climb up his legs and up his hips and up his chest and on his shoulders we survey the horizon.

“WOW!” I shout as the sun glints in my eyes.

Cecil chuckles. He pats me on the head. I try to bite his pudgy fingers, but he removes them too fast.

A$AP sits beside me on the shoulder of the beast. He tosses away his blunt wrap like an autumn leaf. He passes it down the line, to me, to the other A$APs, up the head of Rhodes and to Chief Keef sitting on his hair, to the pigeon puffing and coughing and the owl that takes flight to survey the horizon.


I see from the owl’s eyes the passing valley, the colors like lights that blend one into the other as the stream and the channel becomes a cosmic sea of rippling dark Akasha. Into the dark and the stars we gaze upon the Earth in the distance, and make for Mars.

This is where clarity fell from the heavens like a blue comet, a black star.

We found a Blackstar.

Majestic white robe of the emperor floating dead in the stars, it was a relic covered in tiny white angels, beings with long beaks and curved hooks peeling it apart and devouring its flesh. In the empire’s ruin, the white wings disbanded and left with the emperor’s skin.

A giant skeleton now floated toward the sun, abandoned by vultures, eyeballs plucked out and hands worn with bone splints.

I watched the skeleton vanish into the sun, the mighty Blackstar, defeated by an unknown God.

He gave me His name once, one early morning, over the paper.

I forgot what it was.

But He struck dead the Blackstar and vanished from the studio. He made it his life’s mission to hide what He had done. Temporal, he wanted it to never been seen, so it could never be forgotten.

He wanted the Akashic Record, the legacy of all history, erased and scrubbed from the stars.

He wanted the legacy of the cycle smothered beneath his pillow.

I realized all this on Minerva’s back, the Statue of Liberty, as I watched the crown of the Empire State beneath the waves vanish and drown.

Dark, billowing waters hid the crown of thorns. And the acid rain ate at my shores, and forced me down to the base of the beast.

I tore the shackles off my ankles and cast off my coat. I threw my shotgun to the ground and it went off on accident and also blew Young Chop to the ground.

In the eye of the Blackstar, I tightened my gloves and paraded myself into the valley, where before Cecil Rhodes, I stood.

“You are me,” you see.

“I know,” he crowed.

“Who is he?” I bleed.

“Blackstar,” he screed.

I turned to A$AP and still he shrugged. His feed was exploding. Draped in robes, he looked to his feed and false light reflected upon his fur.

“Whitestar,” I said as I knocked it out of his hand.

He raised his fists. I thought things were about to come to blows.

And then the clouds parted and above the cracked screen the corpse of a great Chariot was dragged by Pegasus to the Earth. Through the cosmos, through the sky, it moved until its sleigh touched down in the green grass and a spring and a moat formed at its basin.

“Whitestar,” I repeated.

A$AP grinned.


I shook his hand and A$AP Rocky went off to become the David Bowie of a new millennium.

Kanye West, a distant friend, saw the white sun and he nodded in particular agreement, before he dug his fingers into the dirt and pulled free a bundle of blood, a thing he put in his mouth and broke with his teeth and drank like a cockroach burst from the seed.

“We’re all Blackstars,” said Kanye West.

We’re all Blackstars.

The words reverberated in my sleeping skull until I woke from the vision, shaking with phantasms.


I pressed my hand against the door. I looked around, buckshot in my stomach. I should have died that day. But I lived, like 6ix9ine will live. I was arrested and taken to jail. On the prison bus, I saw the black smokestacks. They made me work there. In my drape of orange, I shoveled coal into the mouth of the beast, and fueled the demise.

They made me their own ruin. Good on them.

Of course, the woman had dressed herself and pressed charges and I, Tupac, wiped the sweat from my brow.

I was Tupac, but I was also Bill Clinton, the first black president.

I was innocent.

I was finished.

My legacy stolen, I spilled children and they grew up to reap fire in the booth.

From the mic, from the drone,

The fire is what we are and the fire what we own.