"SOME DREAMS STAY DREAMS, SOME DREAMS STAY TRUE"- KANYE OMARI WEST
I apologize for starting off this recap with a quote from that turncoat ass nigga Kanye, but it's the only thing I could think of to begin with. Every since I've be old enough to know what Hip-Hop was, I've wanted to rap in New York City. I'm a proud Southerner, who argues that Hip-Hop didn't truly become American until it was fully articulated thru the lips of descendents of African people who slaved on US soil. Not I'm not on no ADOS shit, I'm actually Pan-African af, and I still want my reparations, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about how Hip-Hop was created by West Indian & Caribbean Immigrants in New York City, who's connections to Alkebulan and America are different than those of us who are still in the same places where our ancestors were once considered property. That's why the music sounds like it does, and I love it. I'm prepared for a more in-depth and nuanced convo on this later.
However, we know where the culture/artform started at, and as a child raised in small town Oklahoma, became a man in small capital city Louisiana, rapping in New York City is my Hajj to Mecca.
Then the story of how I got this show iss important. It began last summer when I had shows in the Midwest that fell thru, so I called Big Lo who I know had did some shows in Winsconsin. He introduces me to Denku in Milwaukee, Denku tells me he can add me to a bill, but couldn't pay because he'd help book Trife Diesel who is a close Wu-Tang Clan affiliate and the budget was solid. I had the option of staying in Indiana for 2 days with no show, or drive to Winsconsin and rap for free. I drove to Winsconsin. When I got there I met Denku, met Rec Riddles and Johnny Bravo, met Trife and DJ M80. Long story short, I bodied shit, did damn near $300 at the merch table, and did so good as an opener I got invited to finish the tour with the guys, on the spot. I was only able to do one more date with em, but we clicked real tight, and stayed in touch.
Fast forward to this year, Johnny Bravo, the manager for Rec, Trife, & M80, tells me he has a gig for Red & Trife in Jersey, and he wants me to come up. Ya'll know my pull up game is strong af, so you know I accepted. Then he says there's an NYC show that he'll try to add me on, and I told him even if I didn't get my own set, ask Rec can I come out on his set and do a song. That's how much performing in the Mecca of the culture that gives me life meant to me. The NYC does get booked, with Rec & I having our own sets, and now it's lit.
IT'S UP THERE
The flight outta New Orleans to Laguardia was pretty uneventful. I slept the whole flight as I listened to Kiese Laymon's audio books, go there pretty eager to get it poppin'. After I get off the plane I see the homie Brother Burch from Birmingham entering the restroom at the airport as I was exiting. That's when I knew the whole trip was finna be lit, because what are the odds I'm arriving at an airport in New York as he's getting ready to fly back down South?
(BROTHER BURCH X MARCEL P. BLACK)
I catch a $37 Uber from Laguardia to Bushwick Brooklyn where my homie Cas is lives, who has offered up a place to crash while I'm up there. I met Cas two years ago when he was living in Tampa, where we did a show together with the homie Mike Mass. We stayed in contact, and he told me whenever I come up top, he'd hold me down. I'm a country ass nigga, you can't invite me places and expect me not to show up. I told ya'll, my pull up game is Steph Curry like. We go get slices from Tony's, I change clothers, we hop on the train to the L.E.S. for the nights show at the Delancey.
EARLY, AND A FIGHT COME WITH THAT...
Me being the consummate proffessional I am, I get there early af, like a damn duck lol. I set my merch up, and I get recognized by a guy who has a cable access show in NYC, In Da Streets TV. We do a quick interview, and he knows all about me, and asks some pretty in depth questions during the short interview. Then I wait. Rec and Johnny Bravo at getting lit at the Colbert show, and Bravo is DJ'ing my set. He's not there yet, nor is DJ Toshi, the resident DJ and promoter for the show.
Then I wait some more.
Finally the crowd fills in, the show that was supposed to start at 9:00pm starts at 11:00pm. First couple of acts went up doing traditional boom bap raps, and the crowd was stiff af. Like mad ice grills, light love, everything stereotypical that you hear about NYC crowds. Mind you as much as I felt it a privilege to perform there, I was willing to fight anyone who boo'ed me. I hear all these stories about Southerner's who go up to New York to rap and get handled bad as hell by NYC rap native purists. I had something to prove, and by golly I was gonna prove it. I was gonna earn my props in the Big Apple as an emcee, or they was gonna respect my hands. MF's wasn't gonna play with me at all mane.
YEAH WITH THE YEAH
In fact, this whole being ready to fight behind my respect as a Southern emcee deserves it's own paragraph. I'm a positive guy. I enjoy being nice and making other people good. I happily drive a mini-van. I'm a law abiding citizen (except speeding), mental health counselor, family man, lover of Oklahoma City Thunder, reality TV shows, and John Mayer albums. I've broken up and prevented far more fights in my life than I've actually had. But those Yankee motherfuckers were not about to disrespect me while the mic was in my hand. While I was on stage. Not while I was in the Lower East Side. I was ready to fight the entire crowd if they played me. A young all-even, no lined, dashiki wearing Andre Lauren Benjamin was repped out on my shoulder the entire time. Booted up. THE SOUTH GOT SOMETHING TO SAY!!! Booted the fuck up!!! I didn't have a lot of money to take with me on the trip, so I was hoping Rec & Bravo thought enough for me to post bail if I had to joce, or fight with me if I got crowded. I can't reiterate or properly explain how ready to engage in fisticuffs I was for my resepeck. Words on a blog can't do it justice.
NYC OVER VOCALS RAP HELPED THE SOUTH WIN...
Oh yeah, I was heart broken that niggas in NYC rap over vocals. Not even trap styled raps either. It was boom bap "real Hip-Hop" cats rapping over vocals. Like, shit you don't even have an excuse to rap over vocals for. Simultaneously it kinda calmed my nerves, because I realized these niggas are people who rap just like me. Except you'll never see/hear me rapping over vocals.
A couple of more over vocal acts go up, I get the message that I'm on deck, so I go to the booth and Toshi asks me where my DJ is. Bravo nem ain't made it yet. Toshi tells me since he's not there he'd bump me back in the lineup. As soon as Toshi does that, Bravo nem walk in. I ended up getting bumped back so far, my performance time was AFTER the headliner, a dope dope dope emcee outta Connecticut. Cambatta kills it, and I'm happy. Now I get to compete at a higher level than I would if I woulda rapped in between them over vocal yo son ass niggas.
The host calls me up, and says I'm from St. Louis, I tell him no, I'm from Louisiana. I grab the mic and kick my acapella. I pause after the "stu stu stutter" line, and I hear a dude say, "yo this nigga got bars yo..."
I've been waiting all my life for a New York mf to say that.
Finish the acapella, tell the crowd, "I came all the way from Louisiana to rap for ya'll, and I ain't come to play" with the sternerst face/voice ever. I go into 'Priniciples & Standards" and the crowd's energy was different from any other time in the night. Us Southern emcees seem to be more emotive than people up north. Especially in the deep south, we try to take you to church, touch your soul, and have you be apart of the show with call & response and different crowd interaction techniques. Mane them niggas wasn't doing none of that for their locals, but did it all for me. they nodded their heads during the verses, and put their hands up during the hooks. Did all the call & responses I asked them them to. Fat boy was cookin' like a mf.
Next was "Hallelujah." I admit on "Principles & Standards" I was tryinna be sharp & clear as my country ass southern Oklahoma/south Louisiana accent could allow, since that's a Hip-Hop/boom bap ass song. But on this one, I'm bout to take you all the way down to the bottom of the map and make you feel the anger, rage, and pain that us Southerners feel as towards Trump ol' bitch ass and his hoe ass administration. So I'm being wild extra with the gospel flavored sing-songy delivery I kicked.
AND. THEY. ATE. IT. UP.
They all said "Fuck Donald Trump" with me loud as hell, and repped the L.E.S. when I said I was from that 225. It was a thing for real.
Now it's time for my last song in my short ass 12 minute set. Sure I coulda did something more boom bap/traditional Hip-Hop sounding, but I was posted in my country ass B-Boy stance on top of the hill that said I will body this shit as a southern Emcee. So I hit them with what I feel is my all time greatest song, "Stare & Whisper." I asked them to put their hands together to pray with me in the beginning, they do it. I start off, and I feel my ancestors looking down on me pround af. I'm in full missionary baptist preacher mode during the verses, and the crowd is all the way into it. I even do a little singing off the microphone for theatrics, and they were there for it. I finish the set to the loudest applause of anyone during the night, more than the headliner. In fact, Cam came over and dapped me down. I melted all the ice grills.
ALOTTA PROPS, NOT ALOT OF SHOPS
After my set, a good portion of the crowd came to holla at me, rappers & patrons alike. I dapped down bout 20 niggas, hugged about 10 women. My man Rec went after me, and he fought to get the crowds attention becuase I had alot of folk by my merch table signing email lists, networking, wanting to take pictures. Nobody really bought anything, but they all told me how much they liked my set, and that they wanted me to come back. After we did all that, they left.
My bad Rec lol.
I AM LEGEND...
I came to the Big Apple and did what I always dreamed of and some. Got my resepect as an emcee from the south, and I didn't have to literally whip noones ass to get it. If you've read the last few blogs, I've spoken about accepting that I'm dope as a motherfucker, and that I've been dope as a motherfucker. Ya'll can't tell me shit now, whole time you shouldn't have ever been able to tell me shit. I am officially a Baton Rouge Hip-Hop Legend. I feel comfortable saying that now. It hit differen't when you body New York City.
Venue: 4/5. A lounge type spot on the Lower East Side, bout 150 cap. Dope af. I'd go as a patron if I wasn't a performer if I lived there.
Crowd: 5/5. Bodied. No complaints at all.
Merch Sales: 2.5/5. The niggas showing love/signing emails to niggas buying shit rations was wopsided af. But the 3 that did spend spend about $20-$40 a piece, so it is what it is.
Sound: 4/5. Dope af.
3/28/19 In Stanhope, New Jersey.