Dear Mr. Rhymes,

When you get a song stuck in your head, is it the entire thing? Do you have to walk a few blocks to get through the three or four minutes of intro, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, breakdown, chorus, and ending? If so, I envy you. Sloshing around in my head all day is just audio backwash. I’ll spend a day or two with a phrase from a Chris Rock special, then maybe a week with a few seconds of a musical cue for a play I did eight years ago. Over and over again. I don’t want to get too personal here, so I’ll just say I have a deficit disorder and not tell you which.

Over the past fourteen years, I’ve spent a lot of time with one particular line of yours stuck in my head. Not even a line, maybe half a line. And it’s not even stuck, it just lives there. It’s from that song you did with De La Soul, the greatest rap group of all time. At one point, you say something that must have changed my life:

“…gettin money with whoever, even the Jews”
2000. Sophomore year. I buy the album, and a girl tells me to come over after school, her parents aren’t home. I fall into several things, the most important of which is love.

“…gettin money with whoever, even the Jews”
2001. I pause my CD-MP3 player to watch the news. Cellphone service is out in New York City, it takes a few hours to hear from my sister at NYU. She’s fine.

“…with whoever, even the Jews”
2002. Senior Prom. I go with a girl I asked on the very first day of school, because what was she gonna do, say she had a date?

“…with whoever, even the Jews”
2005. I prove to everyone at Circuit City I can afford CD Turntables by buying them.

“…whoever, even the Jews”
2007. I barely graduate from Sarah Lawrence College, home to such luminaries as the guy in charge of the reboots of Star Trek and Star Wars, The Ballerina Mayor of Chicago, and completely serious person Yoko Ono.

“…whoever, even the Jews”
2008. I move to Chicago and take a job as an assistant preschool teacher, because working with kids is easy if you’re competent and not a terrible person.

“…even the Jews”
2010. I don’t get on the Birthright trip with my friends, so I blow it off. Plus, the hot desert air might have ruined my iPod Touch.

“…even the Jews”
2011. I fall in love again, and send her a playlist via Dropbox.

“…even the Jews”
2014. I decide writing an open letter in my underwear while idly chewing on a memory card adapter is a great use of my time.

Now, I said this line must have affected my life, but I couldn’t really tell you how. I can only say I’ve thought about that line on every single one of those days. I’ve thought about that line more than I’ve thought about most of my own problems. As a companion, it has outlasted two dogs.

If you have several moments, I have as many questions. These are my favorites:

1. Did you mention my proud people because you wanted something to rhyme with “Langston Hughes”? You had a good thing going with “short fuse” before that, did you just throw in a third Hughes/fuse/Jews thing to make the rhyme sound good? This, I can forgive.

2. Do you mean to imply that you’ve been getting money with all of the other ethnic groups and JUST NOW stumbled on the Jews? This is either racist or makes no sense, it can’t be both.

3. I know that Jewish-Muslim relations haven’t been historically spectacular, but wouldn’t you agree that we have a unique friendship opportunity for bridging the gap between The Five Percent Nation Of Gods And Earths and Atheist Reform Jews With Crohn’s Disease?

4. If it’s okay to give notes, “Even Jon Hughes” might work better. Then your audience would be like, “Oh shit, the writer of Flubber? This guy’s getting money with everyone!”

7. Why aren’t you as celebrated as Michael Jackson or James Brown for your spirited rhythmic ad-libs? My theory is that most people are terrible.

12. Cultural representation is crucial in developing one’s self-image. Can you take responsibility for confusing me with the idea that a hero of mine wouldn’t want to get money with me? If so, that would be great. If not, still pretty great! This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had to look past something anti-Semitic in rap music, but hopefully it’ll be the last. There’s a line in my favorite movie that says “You are what you love, not loves you.” So I am that song with De La Soul, even if it doesn’t love me back. And you know who wrote that movie? A Jew.

58. When you did the voice of Reptar in The Rugrats Movie did you do anything special to prepare, or was it just a regular day for you? Also, when you rapped alongside an in-character Jim Carrey on the Grinch soundtrack, were you using cuss words as satire, or did you get caught up in Jim Carrey’s manic energy and not realize it was a kids’ movie?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Michael Levine