HOME IS WHERE THE LOVE IS...
I have a list of what I call "Home Cities." Places where I have a dope following, where I have a lot of rapper friends. Places I know where to find the dope tennis shoes, eat the delicious food, places where I feel comfortable enough kicking it without needing a local to take me around. Places like Pensacola, Flordia, Mobile, Alabama, Memphis, Tennessee, and my always and forever second home Jackson, Mississippi places where you may see MPB outchea dolo, moving around like I'm a local. That's how comfortable I be. Places like Chicago, St. Louis, Miami, even ATL, not so much. I don't check in with no street niggas, but I do call my rappers homies to see what the temperature is, and if they say go to the hotel, that's what I do. If they say don't go nowhere without me, I stay my Black ass in the room.
I may be big, Black, & country, but I'm not dumb.
Honestly, at this point I'm sober, so I'm not really drinking like talking bout, and most of the time I'm too exausted after hours of driving, riding, or flying, and I just wanna do like David and Goliath down (corny dad joke I got from my Pops, and I say it to my kids now and they think it's hilarious, so I'ma keep saying it.) Extra curricular activities on the road such as drinking and partying after you've been traveling all day, eating bad food, etc. not only have an affect on your physical & mental health, but it hits your pockets. And being able to come home making profit from my music is the one of the main reasons my wife don't trip and allows me to go on the road so much. If I wasn't getting no money I wouldn't be on the road. And I'm a married man with kids, so I'm really not our here tryinna be into no shit that can get my ass side tracked then clapped from close feet like Hov say.
With that said, I enjoy strip clubs.
And the lastest edition to my home cities list, and prolly the only city I've never had a bad show in that I've performed in at least 4 times is BHam. Their scene is dope because they have some of the best up & coming artists that I've seen in my travels in their community, and they are young but still fuck with Hip-Hop. And they have what every good scene needs, a dope mixture of young up & coming talent, and OG's who've been there and done that that's active in the scene locally, providing advice & opportunities to the young boys and girls doing music related ventures. So even though the average age in the crowd is like 25, they are still Hip-Hop enuff to respect and support an old head conscious rapper like myself. And I always get crazy love there.
And Birmingham has my favorite strip club of all of the cities I travel too called The Palace, and my favorite dancer who will remain nameless (for no other reason than the fact that we're real cool and I respect her as a human being). Yes, my wife knows I go to strip clubs, and has even been with me to a few both on the road and locally. More on all of this later.
THAT 2 FOR 1 YEAH...
Mark drives, KP rides shotgun, and I sleep in Amari's seat all the way from ATL to BHam, bout a 2.5 hour drive. I pull up to my guy YouGene Write's crib, go put my bags down, chill for a few hours before the show. Gene is one of the realest niggas I've ever met in any city. We became brothers the first time we really built, not only because he's an incredible artist, but because of his love & passion for building a music industry empire in Birmingham, and putting on for Black people in the city. Last year when I was telling him he's welcome to come rock in BR anytime, this mane told me, "I'm not doing any shows in '19, I'm taking the year off to build my company. Somebody gotta put us in the position to where can get these bags."
I damn near cried.
Gene has this dope ass event called Sankofa Suites where he has artists from the region come and discuss their art in front of an audience, on some Ted Talk/Q&A type format. It's incredible. Well due to scheduling availabities, it just so happened that he had to book his event the same day as ours. Being the real nigga he is, he reached out to Carlos and they decided to sell 2 for 1 presale tix. For $15, you can come to both shows. Lit. Gene heads out to his show, I go lie down for a few, get ready to go rap.
We get to the venue a little early to set up. The DJ is there as well as Paco and the Monastery's manager. Also, my Ju li'l bro Dolla Black is there with his wife. We all exchange greetings, then Carlos comes in. Then, my belly reminds me I hadn't eaten since like 11 am, and it's nearly 8 PM. Ya'll, diabetic hunger is real. It really hit different. Mouth be dry, stomach be grumbling, and you feel kinda tired. So I ask Mark & KP if they hungry, they like "hell yeah." Carlos' and his manager hear me saying we hungry, and they tell me there's a Mickey D's around the corner. They tell me their order, and send me the bread for it on the Cash App. We go get the food, and eat in the car, bc I ain't want niggas to see me beasting Ray Kroc's gourmet delicacies before I rap about how God is Black and Trump is the devil. After I beast the food out, I bring Los and the manager their food, and we chill as people began to trickle in.
You can tell when the other event let out, becuase the room got full real quick. It's about an 85 cap room, and we're about half full at this point, so I signal Los to get the show started. I told ya'll about Dolla Black in the last #CultureOverEverything Baton Rouge show. He's super dope, and prolly gave one of the best performances I've seen him give on a road show. This was his first show in Birmingham, and he rocked out like his life depended on it. He made fans with mixtures of his deep ass Mississippi ass country ass bravado, as well as introspective music that everyone felt. He ended his set by playing his new single "Money," which is a fucking bop, and while it played he walked around and hugged/dapped every person in the crowd, like a true politician. And man did it work. People came to his table, bought CD's & wristbands, took business cards. Smart man.
THE TIME IS NOW
Being a headliner doesn't mean you always go last, it means your name is billed bigger/differently than everyone else. It may mean you have a longer performance set than others. K.L.U.B. Monsta was supposed to go next, but one of the group members hadn't made it yet. Carlos and I both agreed I go now while the crowd was almost at capacity. I go up to the stage, and try to get everyone's attention by cold opening with that acapella I told ya'll I need to publish, but since people are still filing in from the other show, I fail. Carlos small ass then gets on stage and damn near curses everyone out for not paying attention, and then does a toast. Now it's lit.
I kick the acapella again, which does what it's designed to do again, let niggas know how I'm coming. I go into "Bad Man" and it goes very well. I take off my Polo Camo button down, and go into "Black God Fresh" which went over very well. This is why I love being in the south, they get shit like this naturally. All the verses and hooks go well, the crowd is rocking with me. This will be the first official single for the album, and I'm very excited on what the song has the potential to do for me, ESPECIALLY when I release the version featuring *** ****.
I tell the crowd It's time for the "back pack portion" of the night, and get into "Principles And Standards." This song will go down as one of my best ever records, because as soon as the beat drops, people began to do that Hip-Hop head nod that all heads do when they hear a "joint." While I'm rapping, my country ass feet keep getting caught on a rug, so mid verse, I pick that bitch up and toss it to the side, never missed a bar, and the crowd was amused. I do the "real emcees don't rap over vocals" call and response, it works. At the end I say, "I'm the underground bitch mane... Wait a minute!!!!"
The crowd laughs, and I say, "No, I'm the underground king, bitch I never been local!!! Never been no underground bitch. Let's use the Men In Black thing to erase that, it never happened."
The crowd laughs with me. Safe....
Now it's time for "Henry Clay," Which is when I really feel like I'm in the bag. The whole crowd is goin' up, and responding to everything in terms of call & response and crowd participation. Since I say "fuck the police" on this song, I always try to put it next to "Hallelujah," aka "Fuck Donald Trump." By this time, all the being uncomfortable with me rapping aggressive conscious raps is no longer a factor, and the crowd is fully loosened up.
I didn't have a mic stand, so I didn't have anything to center the crowd like I normally do. Thank God I'm in the best rap shape of my career, because I was moving around a lot since I didn't know what to do. It worked very well, to the point the whole venue was screaming "FUCK DONALD TRUMP" to the top of their lungs. Next up is "FreeBLKPPL" but I didn't wanna run the risk of bringing the crowd back down to far before I go into the last song, so I skip it and call up KP Soul for "Cry Freedom." I make sure I'm extra dramatic to sell it for the audience, and they bought it.
All of it.
After I finish, I pick up my 'Lo camo shirt, and head to my table soaking wet, and people shop with me like a mf. Birmingham is one of the few places in the country that I've never had a bad show. Well there was that one time, but nah that don't count lol. Shows are always well attended, the bag is always there, I always make a good connection with the audience, and they always shop with me. And I'm so my old ass figured out how to use Cash App, because that's the only way the young people shop nowadays.
I didn't know much about K.L.U.B. Monsta, but mane was I pleasantly surprised. Them niggas is dope af. Only one guy came to soundcheck, so I thought it was a solo artist, till they got on stage 3 deep. I'm so glad I went before, because even the best performer knows it's extremely hard performing after a full group that's amazingly talented. Straight up country rap tunes turnup Hip-Hop with social commentary so you know I was in heaven. So glad they agreed to do the show.
Closing it out was The Monastery, and mane was they extra lit. Since I've done shows with them both in BR & in BHam, I see how they tend to get mad lit when they feel comfortable. I even had a talk with Los before they went to Nebraska about the importance of staying sharp, proffessional, and punctual, and how sobriety, or keeping the turnup to a mininum only helps that. Can't cut up like you do on the road at home. Well these niggas was at home, and mane was they cuttin up lol. They are the home town heroes at this point, and the crowd rocked with them accoridingly.
Now here's where it gets tricky. Show is over, I'm done selling merch, and now I'm getting excited thinking about how I'm gonna divide the money I've made on the road so far with tonights merch sales and my bread from the door, and how much of that I'm gonna take to the booty club. Well, you remember how people had two for one tix? It seems alot of people said they did, but didn't. Because the count of bodies through the door and what I was given ain't add up. Normally I would let it slide, but this time, I need me me. After a really good talk with my guys and the owner of the venue, we came to a fair aggreement, and I was made whole via Cash App.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
When I did Birmingham for Secret Stages summer '17, we went to The Palace afterwards, and had a blast. It was a Friday night, it was lit af, and we cut all the way up. So much that we have a IG group chat called The Palace Mafia. We share nostalgic posts about that great night, and update each other when our favorite dancers from that club make "entertaining posts." We went back the next Saturday night, and it was wack. The dancers told us to only come on Fridays, and since then, the ONLY time I've booked shows in Birmingham was on Fridays, to make sure we catch The Palace when it's on tilt.
Yup, Birmingham is officially a home city.
After the show I take one soaked Polo Bear shirt off for a fresh one I keep in the whip for situations like this, go get some water & chips so I don't sweat to much to the point of cramping before we head to The Palace. It was packed, I see my homegirl, we have a real good conversation, I tip, Mark & Keith tip, we dip. No I'm not finna give ya'll no pay to play bout what I did at the strip club, not because my wife doesn't know, because she does, it's just some shit nigga shouldn't run his mouth bout. If you were there you know what I mean. We leave, go to the Purple Onion for food, then head back to Gene's house to crash. We gotta drive to Memphis tomorrow.
Venue: 4/5. Dope DIY venue, and even though the door & the dollars didn't add up, I'd still play there again. In my heart of hearts I don't think it was the promoters or venues fault, I think it was niggas tryinna get in for free that did us in.
Crowd: 4.5/5. Taking half a point off for them niggas talking as I began. But they shook back and showed me all the love once Los chastized em lol.
Merch: 5/5. Them youngin's lit my Cash App up. No complaints at all.
Sound: 4/5. Only thing that coulda been better woulda been floor monitors for the artists. Other than that, it was pumping.
Next Show: 4/6/19 in Memphis, Tennessee.