So Andre 3000 croons a soliloquy over this Willie Hutch sample talking about islands and peninsulas and spaceships and Gladys Knight and starts breaking syllables and manipulating words like some kind of hip-hop E.E. Cummings and it’s amazing and it’s perfect and the best part: that’s just the first verse. It’s only appropriate that the Tejas Club played “International Player’s Anthem” as the walk-on music for writer Shea Serrano when he spoke at their Tejas Coffee weekly meeting Thursday night in Austin. Serrano embodies the spirit and essence of that song in his writing and personality with sharp references and a conversational style that is both witty and charmingly ridiculous. It’s one of the reasons the San Antonio-raised New York Times Best Selling author has reached new levels of success in the last year.
Serrano came down the stairs in a light hoodie and his signature Nike Cortez’, looking like a Mexican B Rabbit, to the applause of a crowd that crammed into the living room of the Tejas House. After taking a seat and getting situated, he recounted how he started writing for a neighborhood newsletter and each successful stint that led him to where he is today. He detailed how he basically fell into writing as an outlet for extra money when his wife had some pregnancy complications and incrementally moved up in the journalism world before catching a big break by landing at the now defunct Grantland before writing The Rap Yearbook, which has been on the New York Times Best Seller list since its release in October.1
He is effortlessly funny and is sincere in his candidness, especially when it came to the Q&A portion of the night. He fielded a diverse sample of questions ranging from obscure hip-hop insights to his favorite San Antonio Spurs moments of all time. He is a genuine dude that has the kind of personality that makes you want to root for him.2
While he would be the first to say he’s not famous, there is a level of pride I take in seeing a fellow San Antonian have his kind of success. Sure, there are other people from San Antonio to reach great levels of notoriety, but none that I can relate to more than Shea.
Even though he currently resides in Houston, he wears San Antonio on his sleeve and that sense of civic pride is a breath of fresh air for somebody like me who has spent 75% of my life in this city. Whether he’s reminiscing about that time the Spurs made Kobe Bryant cry, taking True Hoop TV to the ghost tracks or mentioning his mom giving the Miami Heat ojo, Shea Serrano has represented this city better than anybody and has provided me with somebody to look up to as an aspiring writer. Fellow Creative Socialite contributor Sarah3and I drove to Austin and back to see him speak and it was well worth the four hours of sleep I got that night before I had to wake up at 6AM for work the next day. To see somebody who comes from a similar background not only reach these levels of success, but do so in a way that doesn’t compromise who he is or where he comes from is the best inspiration that a Mexican kid from San Antonio could ask for. He is one of us and it makes me beyond happy to see one of us get the most, not the lesser.
1.That’s a little thing called the American Dream. ↩ 2. If you can’t find it in your heart to root for Shea, we don’t trust you, you’re probably the police.↩ 3. She can be counted on in a crisis.↩