Sunday, November 18, 2007

It came from 1992 - Hip-Hop at Howard University Pt. 1

While I waited for Wavelength (the video show that landed me here in VJ rehab) to gather momentum, I continued to assist with the production of another video show. I had worked with these guys for about a year and we had been through all of the ups and downs typically associated with a neighborhood garage band: egos, arguments, disappointments and rare moments of cohesion. It was one drama after another, but like a soap opera, it was hard to turn away and it seemed the story would go on forever.

Eventually things came to head and we went our separate ways. I would love to paint myself as the O'Shea Jackson of this situation, but perhaps that's not as accurate as I would like it to be. For the short time our shows were on the air together, there was some on-air static and a competitive vibe that drove both of our productions. Nobody got hurt and we're all cool now, as far as I know.

In February of 1992, before the separation, we took our one and only road trip. We attended the Hip Hop Conference at Howard University, sponsored by a group called The Cultural Initiative. It was a very progressive thought at the time, that hip-hop could be discussed and debated at a university. We packed the co-host's Thunderbird with A.J.'s gear and hit the road.

Shortly after we arrived, we realized how well-attended and serious this conference was. Rappers were walking the campus, in the hallways and hanging out in the parking lot. Some of them actually showed up for the panel discussions on sampling, commercial rap music and the role of hip-hop publications. I saw Tim Dog, Sen Dog, B Real, Marly Marl, Jam Master Jay, Posdnous, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Organised Konfusion and Sister Souljah. It was a great day for hip hop and for getting drops for low-budget video shows. The way back home wouldn't be as fresh.

We, four black men in a speeding Thunderbird with tinted windows, were stopped by police on I-95. I think they may have been state troopers, but I don't recall what state they were from, it was dark. They got us out of the car and asked us if we had any "drugs, paraphernalia or loose women." We amused them with our claim that we were in the television business. I would recall this unfortunate moment years later, as I watched Robert Townsend's mythical quintet forced to perform a roadside concert by racist cops at the Southgate Cinemas.

We stood on the side of interstate in the cold darkness as they began to search our vehicle without permission. I knew I was clean, but I didn't know what someone else might be holding. Things grew tense as one of the show's hosts grew impatient with the police action. They continued despite his protest, while we all shot him the shut-the-fuk-up look. Then, one of the troopers emerged from the driver's side holding a gun by the trigger guard with a pen. I think he said something dramatic and original, like "What do we have here?"

Part 2 ... posted upon sufficient request.


Anonymous said...

thats crazy -you should do a poll to see and hear the stories of how we get harrassed out there- even though yall had a gun -it shouldn't have gotten that far to the car search -The Four Heartbeats on the side of the road- dam -thats why i search passengers down before they ride with me -ask my grandma- she know- i told her i don't care if you have a cane -lol #1 fan

Anonymous said...

wouldnt happen now but as you rightly say was a regular occurance in the early 90s. Would like to read the next installment