Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NYC Pity Committee

Harris Publications owes me fucking $18.

For some reason I didn’t anticipate that this would be a kind of bullshit night. I left campus sometime Saturday afternoon with absolute unawareness that, after being spoiled since I was 16 by live music experiences that were started on time and didn’t offer mirages of gratuity, I was to finally experience the dreaded “rap show in a club”.

The Internal Affairs 10th Anniversary show story starts in the middle of the week. I go to xxlmag.com virtually every day to read Byron Crawford and Ron Mexico’s respective blog drops. To the immediate left was a blurb about a Harris Publications contest to go see the Pharoahe Monch show in Brooklyn (literally like a 20 minute or so walk from my pre-Bed-Stuy-gentrification brownstone) for free. Because of all the Brooklyn Vegan contests I’ve entered in the last year, I’ve grown pretty used to entering this sort of thing, plus the question was easy enough: “Which artist has Pharoahe Monch never been featured on a song with?” All four of the answers except one were pretty obvious, or at least would be if you dug Phaorahe in the least bit, so I emailed them “MF DOOM” from the choices and got an email the next day or so saying I had won.

I’d never seen Pharoahe perform before and had to skip the Organized Konfusion reunion shows and this year’s Rock the Bells out of budgetary constraints/sloth so I thought this was fate. I was meant to see Monche destroy a small, intimate Brooklyn club I’d never heard of playing one of my favorite post-Golden Age rap albums for free.

They asked for my email because, not trusting XXLmag of Harris Publications for shit based on the widespread knowledge of the shadiness and bootlegged lack of professionalism from rap mags (i.e. the lingering taint of the Source and the 5 Mic lottery of the Benzino era) so I gave them my AOL when I initially entered the contest as my college email is actually important and I don’t give my government out to the sort of people who’d give vapid chicks from Drake videos a week-long blog column. Probably a mistake since my college email would’ve inherently given them enough info to’ve put me on the RSVP for the show, which was in jeopardy by the weekend as I realized, after a long day in class away from my computer and checking my email for the first time at 5, that they had yet to send me an email back saying they received the last email and that I was good to go.

“What kind of bullshit business doesn’t respond back to emails after Thursday? There’s another work day, right?”

Cut to Thursday. I picked up a few items from my house to take back to college (Halloween mask, PS2 games, etc.) and checked up on my mom who’s having a rough time health wise. At no point during the weekend had I cleared the enthusiastic haze out of mind and thought of printing out my e-correspondence with XXL just in case they were as unprofessional as I’d reckoned and didn’t put me on the RSVP. Nor did I think to borrow my mom’s unlimited metrocard just in case some bullshit happened and I had to come back to the house to sort it out or for any other reason. It’s this kind of lack of foresight that has me coming out of pocket for a second senior year in college.

I take the A to Schermerhorn, hop to the G, get off at Classon and walk through the neighborhood, which is a part of Brooklyn I’ve never been to since, in all honesty, I don’t really fuck with the boroughs like that. I know Manhattan and west Brooklyn better than relatives’ birthdays yet the Bronx, parts of Queens and the other %75 of Brooklyn I never have to visit could be Philly for all I know. A little sketched out to be in the kind of area where the projects have their own embedded police precinct (you’d think that’d help, but if anything it’s the opposite), I made an L to the venue, this odd Bohemian nest in the middle of a semi-gully remnant of pre-Grizzly Bear Brooklyn called Sputnik. Real neo-soul looking inside, calming earth tones, candles, people that look like ?uestlove. Like walking into the jazz club from “What They Do”, actually.

I had Curb Your Enthusiasm and Bill Maher on DVR, but I watched two episodes of Curb and rushed to the venue because the show was supposed to start at 10pm. Once again, lack of foresight. This wasn’t like any of the metal or hardcore shows I’d gone to or even the Ghostface and Roots shows or Rock the Bells. Those shits started on time. It was organized by professionals and had actual money going into it, presenting an opportunity cost if any post-Forever Wu-Tang bullshit scamming or delays happened. When I got there, we were told that the doors for the show would open at 10:30. From the hundreds of shows I’ve gone to, I knew that meant the show would probably go on at 11:15 at the very earliest. I asked the doorman if I was on the RSVP for contest winner to make sure that the sinking paranoia I was starting to feel was just that.

Nope. Not on the list. For his credit the guy seemed genuinely concerned and not pretending to be distant and superior like most NYC doormen. But at this point I had a choice: either pay the fare and go home to print out the emails or stay there and cough up the $18 door charge. Stupidly, I just lingered around there and, after double-checking with the stampstress downstairs and going to get a $10 from the Chinese spot ATM, just said “Fuck it” and paid the money. I was dejected, especially since I was alone, bored, playing text tag on some interpersonal drama shit with a girl from school and quickly realizing that the show was taking so long that I would not be able to catch the last 1’o clock Metro-North to White Plains or the last 2’something free shuttle back to campus. Meaning I’d be stuck in NYC for the night and likely not get back in time the next day to get any meaningful amount of work or anything done.

Anyway, the actual show was great. The intimacy was the entire reason I was doing this, plus the promise that Monch wouldn’t be playing Desire. I might give that record another chance later but from what I remember it wasn’t great, but rode a wave of well-wishing because you’d have to be a complete asshole to not love the guy. That goodwill is how I convinced myself that I didn’t mind XXL’s inefficient fuck-up that was costing me $18.

“Monch deserves the money, goddamit. I mean, he couldn’t sell Internal Affairs for 10 years over sample issues, Desire did Q-Tip numbers and who knows how much of the Diddy ghostwriting money is still around. If I can support the dude enough that he can cop a Popeye’s 5-piece boneless chicken strip meal and take a cab back home after, so be it”

Although Monch's kind of getting back to "Fudge Pudge" status so clearly he's both caking and eating, figuratively and/or literally.

As evidenced by the video, and the entire thing is on that same Youtube account, the shit was nuts. There are maybe 2 or 3 songs off Internal Affairs that I’ve never really liked or felt, so I was bound to enjoy the shit. Plus, he didn’t stick to the script completely. Throughout the evening (or morning because after the warm-up acts, a guy who did a rap where he just pieced together the names of streets in NYC and a member of the X-Ecutioners crew who did a DJ set that felt like a good hour, it was like 12:45) Monch took requests (some tall white dude that looks like he fucks with Jedi Mind Tricks, Kool G Rap and R.A. the Rugged Man heavy shouted out some Soundbombing track after ever song until Monch finally did it.) and did his verses from “Oh No”, “My Life”, “Desire”, and an Organized Konfusion song, I think “Stray Bullets”. He was helped halfway through the set by two singers who, Unitarian Christ bless, were talented but the kind of budget nondescript singers that you get in NYC. A thick-bordering-on-“BBW” chick with ridiculously immaculate cleavage a dude the size of Buckshot that kind of looked a lot like Gandhi from “Clone High”.

The set list is on the youtube channel, but the M.O.P song, maybe my favorite Internal Affairs track, lacked any M.O.P. Monch apologized, but I don’t think anyone, even me at this point, was surprised. The flyer promised tons of guests, basically everyone who guested on the record, but no one showed up. Jean Grae (looking fine and amused at everything), DJ Scratch and Evil D were in the booth, though, though Jean was spectating and didn’t come down to the stage to spit anything.

The night ended with “Simon Says” of course, this was probably my favorite rap concert moment ever and definitely in my top 5 concert experiences in general. I haven’t yelled that loud and spazzed that hard since the last time I saw Converge live, and save for hopefully getting to see M.O.P. do “Ante Up” live in the future. Plus Monch is just as much of a playful virtuoso with a preacher's prescence and a king's tendency to proclaim. I’ve been hearing about S.O.B’s and their rap shows for a minute but I’ve always been hesitant. Seeing Monch live just convinced me to check their listing and check out live hip-hop more than I have been, especially since I unfortunately missed the Boot Camp Clik show and could prolly catch Sean Price there any time.

The second highlight of the Monch weekend? Running into R.A. the Rugged Man at the Fulton Street 4/5/A/C train station. He asked some dude for directions a few feet away but I didn’t geek out and tell him how much I liked Die, Rugged Man, Die just because I’m terrible at talking to people I recognize, like when I ran up on Jay Smooth this summer at a KRS-ONE free show in the Bronx and kind of made him feel uncomfortable as I struggled to verbalize how much I love his work.

Now to get someone to go with me to Vivian Girls.


Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

I would totally geek out of I saw a rapper I liked. Or any celebrity for that matter.

Christopher said...

I had to try so hard to resist the urge to run up on R.A. like a stan. Actually that's a lie, I was desperately trying to recollect a verse to spit at him from one of his own records to demonstrate my superfandom and break the ice