Friday, April 22, 2005

New York State Of Mine

I’m getting all misty over here as this looks to be my last weekend in New York. The thought of leaving the state that has been my home off and on (there it is baby paw) for over 12 years is sending me down memory lane. It’s been a hell of a run for this country boy from Tennessee and it’s a shame to see it end. From the day I moved to Brooklyn with my uncle and them, I felt as if I had found a second home. Don’t get it twisted, I will always be from Tennessee, but New York really got to me. The intense heat of the summers in Bed-Stuy, catching’ wreck with some writers from Queens, throwing up “Rock639” on anything I could, going to Yankee Stadium, The West Indian Day Parade, the Puerto Rican Day Parade, discovering New Jersey on the Path train, and struggling in the music business.

I held several music related jobs while I roamed through New York. I have worked as an assistant engineer, engineer, producer, A&R, manager (lol) and general office assistant. My first “job” was working as a intern at Firehouse Studio when it was still in BK. This is where I got real experience with hip-hop production. I learned the basics of being a studio grunt (when to take the trash out of the studio rooms, how to charge meals to the record companies, and which rappers preferred Dutch Masters to Phillies, etc, etc) and met a lot of good people along the way.

Guru once came though, looking a little stressed, with his little boy with him. I was there early, getting ready for the next session, and he rang the bell. I buzzed him in and met him at the top of the stairs. Mind you, I was a studio scrub, cleaning the 48 track board with Q-Tips and aligning tape machines all day. This was Guru from Gangstarr. This was also back when I would still get star struck. When Guru stepped in, so did my nervous stutter. Anyway, dude came in and asked if he could kick it for a minute because he was out shopping with his son and people were mobbin’ him on the street. This was around 1993 so it made sense. He waited for Yoram (sp?) to come in and we played Tonka trucks his son. When I saw him about two years later at some club in the city, he remembered me and we kicked it for a minute. That was peace.

He said you turn it on Q..YOU!!!

Then there was the time I met Das EFX, back when they were liggitty large. I forget dude’s name but as they were starting their session, homie walks up to me and says, “Yo, you can turn on the light in the vocal booth?” I said sure, it works fine, just pull the string. He looks at me like I’m an alien and repeats himself. I look back at him like he is biggity buggin out and repeat myself. He gets pissed and yells “NAW NIGGA! I SAID YOU CAN TURN ON THE LIGHT IN THE VOCAL BOOTH FOR ME? I’M SHORT YO!” I realized that my country ass had misunderstood him and seemed like I was trying to be a dick. I pulled the string as his crew laughed at my ass. He did later apologize for blowing up on me and I apologized for being a nerd from Tennessee.(What’s the short guy from Das EFX’s name again?Bootz? Peace kid!)

Then there was the time I met a few brothers from the Wu. They were working on “Protect Your Neck” at the time, but I had heard about them even before that. I used to run with these kids from Staten Island who had told me all about these cats from Stapleton. My man Brian(Ibrahim) was Muslim so he would build with me, teaching me a few things about Islam. So when I heard these cats were coming in, I made sure I was there.

RZA was mad cool, working on the beat with the engineer, joking and talking me, the lowly intern, like I was somebody. He says, “Yo, let’s go to the store real quick.” So we jetted and got a Dutch. As we walked back to Firehouse, he started to unwrap the Dutch and asked me what my religion was. My answer to that always gets attention as it did with him. He started to talking to me about Islam, lessons, and our history. I eat this type of sh!t up anyway, so we chilled outside the studio for a minute or two, just building. That was peace. Later I would get to talk to Ghostface and he broke down the whole reason he wore the mask. I knew that day that these cats would be large. When I went back home to TN a few months after that, I was banging “36 Chambers”, telling everyone I knew that they had better watch out for these dudes from Shaolin.

Too many stories start to come to mind. The close calls coming home from Pink Houses, getting my car smashed at 33rd Street in front of Toys R US, dates in Prospect Park, dates in Central Park, lost in The Bronx, wired in Washington Heights, spinnig in Limelight, Club Speed, Vanity Bar (1 week after getting kicked out for blazin’) running the downstairs red room in Cheetah for 1 year straight with Frank D, running the hip-hop projects at Quantum Studios in Jersey City for 2 years straight solo, linking up with Jose Nunez at Quantum waaaay before any house music jumped off, shopping my crews demo to every label in New York, getting dissed by every label in New York, jumping ship to Soundtracks, meeting every singer/songwriter/rapper/producer/owner/poser in the business there, getting fired for theft shortly after(I had no part in that little heist and if I did, I would have something to show for it which I don’t…but you know the rules…no dime dropping!) finally making records with some really good people, watching said records sell wood and crew get split by pettiness and egos, watching the same scene repeatedly with the same results, the deals that actually made money, the people that surprised me by being true friends,ex girlfriends and all the love that was lost, the bad relationships, late night creeps, the arrests and court cases, the 3 week homeless while working thing, witnessing the single most incredible thing in my life, my son’s birth in a little clinic deep in Brooklyn, leaving NYC after 9/11. All of these memories and experience, both good and bad, are New York to me. I’ll miss it.

I should finish packing and stop talking and crying a river over here. It’s not like I won’t be back in town in about 8 months anyway (surprise!)

With that said, I dedicate the following joints to New York!

Escape From New York theme song

LL Cool J Going Back To Cali video

I'll post a complete New York/LA Song list soon.....


Anonymous said...

the picture you posted of new york looks so beautiful...