Friday, March 31, 2006

i gotta get up early in the morning...

actually, i didn't have to get up, i was just up. at 4 a.m. in the fucking morning. shit...

maybe i was still hype over the independent hip-hop fest i attended last night. the vibe in there was tremendous. as soon as i walked into the door of the loft, my eardrums were immediately assaulted by the thrumming of a heavy base being pimped over by a voice. his voice.

"throw ya hands in the air if you a true playa..."

shit, my walk evolved to a strut as i lifted a hand into the air, closed my eyes so as to better immerse myself into the moment of nostalgia, and started nodding to the beat. DAMN, but it was good to be in it again. to be all up in a spot where the music flowed as freely as cum continuous after a concentrated clit stroke. hell, my clit was throbbing in anticipation of the auditory orgasm i was about to experience.

i walked up the stairway to the entrance into the spot and paid the attendant. the weed smoke was thicker than the thighs of voluptous stripper and just as high inducing. i breathed it in deeply, remembering the times when i hung out with my boys and vibed while they smoked 'that good ish' (nah, i was never much for smoking the ganja but i didn't have to cuz i got off on the contact, feel me?). the room was cavernous and dark, except for the lightning being sparked from the turntable by the dj. i don't know how that mothafucka did it, but suddenly the biscuit drowned in gravy voice of biggie was devoured by the mouth of another beat and another voice took stage...

"it ain't hard to tell, i excel, then prevail
the mic is contacted, I attract clientele..."

the cats in the room all started yelling loudly, like they hadn't heard that shit since nas first dropped it in '94. there were only figured shadows around me, but i didn't need to see them to feel the elation, the fucking celebration of the foundation of hip-hop. we all started screaming out the lyrics...

"my mic check is life or death, breathin a sniper's breath
I exhale the yellow smoke of buddha through righteous steps..."

...and i was remembering brooklyn, summer 1994, sitting on my granny's stoop (folk from the ny know what i'm talking about), being introduced to nas for the first time. it was hot and humid and the sun was burning us like a pussy after catching the clap. the park across the street was packed with folk, some sitting on benches playing checkers on concrete tables, some smacking the handball ferociously against walls graffitied with declarations of brilliance's presence, some jumping through the fast turning ropes of double dutch, some sending sweet arcs of black striped orange balls through the air to fall true through hoop rims (you had to imagine the swish cuz they didn't have nets on basketball rims in the hood). their noises were all joyful like the voices of a church choir praising god for the gift of that one more minute of life.

having just gotten there from atlanta where the weather was hotter but lacked the electric current running through the streets of bedstuy, i had been eager to imbibe of the vibe of my old neighborhood. i hadn't even been out there ten minutes before the sweat from my body was forging sticky paths all over my chest, pasting the cotton from my shirt to my skin like paper mache. kwame, the cat next door, had just dragged out his portable cd player, the orange extension cord pulled taut as he tried to move it closer to the right edge next to where i sat.

"nik, you gotta hear this shit," he exclaimed, his movements were fast as he excitedly turned the speakers so they were facing me. i had begun fanning myself with the day's copy of the new york daily news hoping to cop a feel on a full-bodied breeze, but was instead left holding the anorexic ass of a paltry puff. i sighed deeply.

"it's hotta than a mothafucka out here!" i gasped. (yeah, i was probably overly dramatic with it considering i had just left a place where it had been 95 degrees for about two weeks straight, but is hot damnit.)

kwame stopped what he was doing and looked at me.

"don't be a punk, nikki," he replied, shaking his head in mock disapproval. i started laughing at the look on his face and watched him as he jumped over the wrought iron bars lining the side of his steps and landed in front of me. "just listen and quit with dat whining shit."

"i wasn't whining, you bastid," i replied as the smile cracked my face through the sweat streaming from my temples, "i was stating the fucking truth."

he laughed before turning to the cd player to press the play button.

"yo, just listen to this kid. this nigga is ill," he said as he turned to me. "he right out of queensbridge."

"for real?" i asked as i thought of the cousins i had living in the same projects. shit, they might actually know this kid. shit I might actually know this kid. i had been over there every summer for years! suddenly i was interested in listening to the kid who i knew i knew cuz everyone knew everyone in queensbridge.

then i hear the sound of subway trains and an echo of a voice...

"street's disciple, my raps are trifle
i shoot slugs from my brain just like a rifle
stampede the stage, I leave the microphone split
play mr. tuffy while I'm on some pretty tone shit
verbal assassin, my architect pleases
when I was twelve, I went to..."

then there was some brothas talking and i got the blank face.

"BOORRING." i yelled to him in doorbell notes.

kwame laughed.

"fuck you, nikki."

then he reached over and hit the next button.


the piano sounded like it was being hammered with a fist as the repeating riff blasted through the speakers like blood splatter after a barrage of beat downs. it was aggressive. it was demanding. it was...

more cats talking.

i looked at kwame and was about to open my mouth.

and then...AWWWWW SHIT.

"rappers i monkey flip em with the funky rhythm i be kickin
musician, inflictin composition
of pain i'm like scarface sniffin cocaine
holdin a m-16, see with the pen i'm extreme, now
bulletholes left in my peepholes
i'm suited up in street clothes
hand me a nine and i'll defeat foes
y'all know my steelo with or without the airplay
i keep some e&j, sittin bent up in the stairway
or either on the corner bettin grants with the celo champs
laughin at baseheads, tryin to sell some broken amps
g-packs get off quick, forever niggaz talk shit
remeniscing about the last time the task force flipped
niggaz be runnin through the block shootin
time to start the revolution, catch a body head for houston
once they caught us off guard, the mac-10 was in the grass and
i ran like a cheetah with thoughts of an assassin
pick the mac up, told brothers, "back up," the mac spit
lead was hittin niggaz one ran, i made him backflip
heard a few chicks scream my arm shook, couldn't look
gave another squeeze heard it click yo, my shit is stuck
try to cock it, it wouldn't shoot now i'm in danger
finally pulled it back and saw three bullets caught up in the chamber
so now i'm jetting to the building lobby
and it was filled with children probably couldn't see as high as i be
(so whatchu sayin?) it's like the game ain't the same
got younger niggaz pullin the triggers bringing fame to they name
and claim some corners, crews without guns are goners
in broad daylight, stickup kids, they run up on us
fo'-fives and gauges, macs in fact
same niggaz'll catch a back to back, snatchin yo' cracks in black
there was a snitch on the block gettin niggaz knocked
so hold your stash until the coke price drop
i know this crackhead, who said she gotta smoke nice rock
and if it's good she'll bring ya customers in measuring pots, but yo
you gotta slide on a vacation
inside information keeps large niggaz erasin and they wives basin
it drops deep as it does in my breath
i never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death
beyond the walls of intelligence, life is defined
i think of crime when i'm in a new york state of mind..."

i was right there in that fucking stairwell in queensbridge, the stench of urine flooding my nostrils as the stark light from the artifical bulb showcased the enameled walls like gritty teeth gaped in a menacing smile around me. i was right there next to him when we walked over to the bench in the middle of a concrete landscape surrounded by tall brickhouse bitches with glass eyes reflecting the blank stares of their lost souls. i was sitting there looking at the same shit he was looking at, either nodding in agreement with a "no doubt, son" or shaking my head in disgust with a "that's fucked up, kid."

and i was there with nas in queensbridge until that cd was over.

it felt like i had just read a book only the words were planted in my mind without me ever seeing them. all i saw were the images. all i felt was the pain and hope and bravado and genius and arrogance and guilt and fear and most profoundly that, that fucking be heard, to be valued, to be accepted, to be understood, to be feared, to be lauded, to be respected.

the demand to just fucking let a nigga BE.

i didn't say a word when the final song ended. in fact, i didn't even realize the cd was done.


i was sitting there lamenting with him about life being a bitch while puffing on a spliff.


i was standing there in the park with him when he poured his heineken brew to his deceased crew on memory lane...


i was there when he fucking represented.

"nikki! SHIT, KID!"

kwame had to shove me hard to bring me back. i looked up at him and remained silent. it was like the quietest moment i had ever experienced in new york. i tell you, i didn't hear SHIT.

and then my mind started reviewing all of the words, the delivery, the tracks behind it all. all of the images rolled back through my mind like a rewinding movie, the sounds playing backwards in a screech reminicent of sqeaky breaks on a fast-stopping mac truck. the emotions i felt just continued to build. i was excited. i was elated. i was...overwhelmed.


that cd was fucking brilliant.

"THAT WAS THE SHIT!" i exclaimed as i started jumping around like a maniac. i can't even explain this shit to you. all i can say is that when music moves me like that, i gotta jump for joy like i just felt the holy ghost or something.

kwame was staring at me like i had lost my mind but i really didn't give a fuck. i had just experienced something rare and fuck it, i was gonna savor that fucking moment. then i noticed a crowd had gathered around us as other cats from the neighborhood had stopped to listen to the urban griot spin tales.

nasir jones has a way of gathering souls, wayward petals blowing in an aimless breeze before he plucks them from the air and pulls them together to form flowers, then bushes, then meadows of beautifully burgeoning black folk.

and i was feeling it again last night at the hip-hop festival. nas, biggie, brand nubian, poor righteous teachers, main source, kool g rap...all of them made an appearance last night from the speakers if not from the stage. by the time the new guard stepped up to the mic to continue the tradition of the independent spirit of hip-hop, i was ready to be taken away again.

i wasn't disappointed.