Thursday, October 29, 2009

Soundbombing Pt 4: Escape from New York

I'd never seen anything like the performance above by RA The Rugged Man in 1999 and I probably never will. I don't have the words to do it justice, so I won't try. Rugged Man dropped a new CD this week, if your interested.

After a day and half of spending Rupert Murdoch's money and hanging out with hip-hop's elite, it was time for DJ Reese and I to return to day jobs in Richmond. We ordered room service one last time, leaving the waitstaff yet another ridiculous gratuity and before we boarded a van to the airport. Reese pondered whether he owed his contact at Rawkus and apology for exploiting their hospitality while we waited in the airport. This moment marked the end of fun in New York.

My traveling nightmare may not compare to the recent airline snafus that have left passengers stranded in airplanes for hours, but it was a long, uncomfortable journey that got worse as it wore on. Our first flight was  postponed several hours. Then it was cancelled. Then we got another flight to Richmond, but it was leaving from a different airport. The airline put us on a bus to LaGuardia, where we waited for our plane to come. Almost six hours after our planned departure, we were finally in our seats. We were still feeling releived  when plane turned toward the runway and stopped.

The pilot said that a "important device" wasn't functioning properly and we weren't going anywhere until it was fixed  A mechanic entered the plane a few moments later and laid on his back in the cockpit, with his toolbox beside him. We found out later "the important device" was the plane's radar, which wasn't getting fixed that night. After the repair attempt, we were taken back to the airport. Reese and I were the last to leave the plane. I  remember turning around and seeing him still in his seat, shaking his head as dragged my gear through the narrow space between the seats.

The airline people put us on another bus. This time, we were going to a hotel where we could stay until the next scheduled flight to Richmond in the morning. The first hotel we went to was booked up. The second hotel was was booked, too. The bus driver took us back to the first hotel and everyone that has been on plane spread out in the lobby. Some slept in chairs, others in restaurant booths. I found a sofa in the lobby. Just a few hours before, I was in a five star hotel ordering room service and watching cable television. Now, here I was trying to sleep in a semi-public area a few inches from the floor.

If there was a  moral to this story, I've misplaced it, along with an expired voucher from US Airways.  

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bombing the Sound Pt. 3

The next chapter in the story might not be worth the wait, I think the footage above of Pharoahe Monch and Shabaam Sahdeeq is an acceptable consolation. The asthmatic former member of Organized Konfusion spits the first verse of "WW II" twice, after his first delivery left the audience shell shocked. Don't you wish he would rhyme like he used to? (Monch is revisiting his early days this weekend.)

So where was I? Oh, yeah. DJ Reese and I were headed to the NY office of Loud Records where a young lady owed him a favor. We were going to the Soundbombing 2 concert and this was supposed to be a quick stop on the way While he and the record company person settled up, I was left in what might have been the meeting room for Loud. But I wasn't alone. There were rappers in there.

I wasn't a fan of Dead Prez then and I still don't own any of their material. So hanging out with the revolutionary gangsta duo wasn't on my "things to do while in New York" list. But here they were, just sitting there and I had nothing to say. I was hoping whatever business DJ Reese was taking care of wouldn't take long and we would on our way to the Bowery Ballroom to see Mos Def and 'nem. Then I heard the words that make rap critics cringe.

"You wanna hear our new shit?"

I'm sure my facial expression said "Not Really" or "Get me out of here," but I gave the polite answer and braced myself for some uncomfortable moments. I wasn't prepared for what happened next. I liked their music. All of it. They must've played the majority of what would become "Let's Get Free," and I was feeling every track. We chatted for a few minutes afterward and they considered heading to the concert, but I didn't see them there. DJ Reese finally returned, mysterious mission accomplished, and we were on our way.