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Archive for October, 2008

I needed a number for Eric Clapton a couple of years back. Clapton shook off a serious heroin addiction and founded Crossroads,  a rehab clinic on the Caribbean island of, Antigua.

The Brown Sugar Man drank himself out of business and had alienated everyone of merit that he knew. He’d said, Shit Damn Mutherfucka once too often. When he could finally see the bottom of the bottle, he called me, his old A & R man.

He wanted to dry off because he’d been wet too long. It had been six years since his pervious release and the IRS and his babie’s mamas wanted to know when the music was gonna start again. He’d decided to check into Crossroads.

“>The Brown Sugar Man
THE BROWN SUGAR MAN

I didn’t know anyone connected to the place but my boy did. Eric Clapton, they’d done a couple of those old head/new jack masters pairings on some tv shows and they were still cool.

As has been documented in a piece on Spin.com, I orchestrated an admission to the clinic and a return to the studio for my old friend. A fact that was not revealed in the article was this: Clapton was the second person to respond to our call for help. The first was his friend and Sheryl Crow’s manager, Scooter Weintraub.

Our first in person chat was very R & B. Scooter had met Sheryl while they were both on tour with Michael Jackson. Scooter was a roadie. Sheryl was a backgound singer that Michael featured everynight on a duet of, Man In The Mirror. We spoke about Clapton’s affinity for Curtis Mafield, Sly Stone and how he’d jammed with Hendrix.

The Epecurean knew Scooter and his connect to Slow Hand. One phone call and I had an international cell phone number for the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer. I was not privy to the conversation that took place between, Eric and my boy but it resulted in a contact number to the head clinician at Crossroads and a reservation for a bed. That was in early 2006.

I’d only spoken to Scooter on the phone so I was mad happy to shake his hand. The Ep made the connect again. They were both in town for a Rock The Vote gig that featured The Epecurean’s client, Santogold, Sheryl Crow and headliners, The Beastie Boys.

We arrived late. So we missed Santogold. When we got to the gig, Santi had already rocked. We were delayed by the inevitable, dinner.
Surprisingly, The Ep slid by earlier to catch a meal. BBQ beef short ribs, broiled chicken, collards, mac ‘n cheese, candied yams and string beans. Southern style all the way.

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SLOW HAND

He’d been by yesterday as well, so we were doing left overs. He didn’t seem to find that discouraging at all. As is his habit, he came baring gifts. My favorite Cubans, a bottle of Grey Goose Orange and a bottle of Opus I. He lingered long enough for a banana pudding to be whipped up and scored a bowl of that too. I mentioned to him that, “Deep inside there’s a fat man waiting to get out.”

The Ep is in transit from the west coast by car. He’s still not quite back from the Rock The Bells Chronicles and in fact, has not completed his promised guest blog resolving the epic tale. The Ep is very affable so I’m not beefing and anyway, he did bring cigars.

We hopped into the bat mobile and made our way to Amos’ Southend. The rock club in town. It’s small with a balcony surrounding the floor. The building was packed well past the limit of any city ordinance.

We tried the front door to no avail. All access laminates just didn’t have that certain something for the red head at the door. She was dead set on making sure that we were carded and wrist banded. Her name was Meghan and I don’t think that she’s smiled since before the beginning of the Iraqui Freedom mission.

Since Crow has recently done Larry King in support of Obama, The Beasties are well known liberals and NC is a swing state. Megahn may have been upset that Gov. Palin wasn’t on the bill doing that jawn that Amy Poehler spit a couple of Saturdays ago. I get the feeling that she’s of the opinion, that as far as she’s concerned, in matters regarding, Amos’ front door, when she speaks, it’s Meghan’s law,

Anyway back to the lesson at hand. We were rerouted to the staff entrance. Cool wit me, I was there for work. I’m developing a documentary and Beastie, MCA has been directing for several years under the name, Nathaniel Hornblower. He’s done several videos for the band and a banging concert film that depicts a Madison Square Garden performance called, That’s Awsome: I Shot This Fucking Thing Myself.

It’s a brilliant concept. He gave hand held digital cameras to 80 fans and they each shot their own version of the show. Like a mad hip hop producer working on an old Public Enemy jawn, he stitched it all together and made a full feature length film that’s required viewing. He’s serious with the docs. I want him to direct mine.

When we walked into the stage door entrance the three Beasties were standing at the door together. Sheryl Crow had just started her set and it was clear that she was there to rock more than the vote from note one.

After we all shook hands and hugged, we fell into the groove. In the interest of full disclosure, I bought her first album. Honey combined that little bit of rock, country and soul that you find in some of the best California rock. She recalled Don Henley and his Eagles, Jackson Brown and CS & N. She won a bunch of Grammys and sold a bunch of records. Everyday Is A Winding Road is a classic. I’m not mad at Sheryl Crow.

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GROUNDBREAKING EMCEES THE BEASTIES & DJ HURRICANE

Ad Rock pulled me outside. He was rocking an old Knick hat, t shirt and jeans. Downtown b-boy fashion statement to the fullest. We chopped it up about my film idea, the Knicks and the new Q-Tip jawn. He said that he couldn’t answer for MCA but I could count on their support as a band.

We also talked about how I was instrumental in introducing him to Molly Ringwald and laughed about the money we made from puttimg one of their jawns on the soundtrack to her film, The Pick-Up Artist. We split less than 30 grand between us and we thought that was all the money in the world back then.

I’ve know The Beasties since I was there promotion man. No one wanted to play them except college radio. Black radio, in a unified show of racist philosophy thought they were inauthentic.

The thought of a white rap group was other worldly to most in ’84. But not to Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons. The success of Run/DMC had already clued them into the fact that whites were already into the music and wanted to support someone who looked like themselves. Same thing Elvis did actually.

We all go back. I saw them perform their first show. They had on doo rags and sweat suits. They rented a limo for the night and dropped Simmons and me at a wild drug dealer party in Queens. All of the Rush Management roster was performing for their regular fee, plus an eighth of blow. Lotta champagne got poured that night.

MCA pulled me outside next. Crow was still rocking. I pitched him on my idea. Kid’s a pro so he didn’t bite right away. I’m not new, so I dropped the name of my second choice. The second choice has a couple of  $100, 000, 000.00 box office tallies to his credit. He’s a name we both know well so he knows I’m not joking. As I said, he’s a pro and he doesn’t say no. He says, “I’ ll think about it.”

I go inside and play the bar for a minute. Order a double shot and make haste. Whatever the outcome, I’m elated to see playas from the ol skool.

The show starts, it’s a brief set. This crowd does not get to hear, Fight For Your Right To Party. They don’t hear, Rhyming And Stealing, there’s no Paul Revere. They do however sing that joint, So Watcha Want. The one where Ad Rock says “Plug me in as if my name was Gary Harris.” I like that one, shitz funky.

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QTIP

New York in the eighties was wide open and dangerous it seemed as though anything was possible. Marauding crack dealers turned neighborhoods into war zones and built empires. Trigger happy policing unjustly claimed the lives of innocent victims of color all too frequently. Tension between various ethnic groups errupted into violence several times during the decade. Homelessness was at an all time high.

It has often been said that creativity flourishes amidst chaos. This was the backdrop that lent itself to the inspiration for Spike Lee’s late eighties masterwork Do The Right Thing. Lee was just one of many creative voices that had been influenced by hip hop, and attempted to make sense of the pain, suffering and stuggle of the period.

Diverse talents came to and fromThe Apple to get their work off and rival the profits of the crack lords. Madonna mined the traditions of Black dance styles, gay fashion, performance art and Hollywood glamour to good effect. Keith Haring tapped into the exploding graffiti art scene and took his illuminated infants across the globe.

The Great Grandmaster Flash cut and scratched a path out of The Boogie Down that led to a radio near you. Harlem born writer Barry Michael Cooper plied his trade in alternative and rock press by following the interconnected worlds of the hustlas, music biz and playas of the period. His seminal work resulted in his writing the uptown cinematic trilogy New Jack City, Above The Rim and Sugar Hill.

Seeds of the unorganized elements of the rap business were laid in this era and showed signs of the global beast that it would later become. In advance of rap records, clubs like The Fantasia, Charles’ Gallery and Harlem World serviced the needs of the early rap consumer with fresh to def performances by the mystics and masters of this new art form.

A black market arose around live performance tapes of pioneers like; Cold Crush, Busy B, DJ Hollywood, Kurtis Blow and others doing their thing. Those in possesion of these tapes, or the knowlege of how to get ’em were thought to be in the know.

At this time, out in Queens, in adddition to a growing underground druge trade fueled by crack sales there developed a fertile hot bed for star rap talent.

Hollis Queens natives, the Simmons brothers, Russell and Joey combined their skills to form a railroad to economic and creative freedom.

Russell went to City College, where he discoverd and mastered a unique entreprenurial instinct. He created Rush Promotions, a party promotion company aimed at the developing rap market and teamed Flash, Kurtis Blow and others for performances in front of gatherings of up to 2000 rabid fans. Joey was a dope MC and caught the stage bug. First, as a young teenager he performed as The Son Of Kurtis Blow. Later, he formed a trio that included elemetary school friend Daryl McDaniels, neighborhood buddy Jason Mizell, and experienced world wide success as Run/DMC.

Along with Rush, Run, D and Jay came producers Davey DMX, Larry Smith and teen rap sensation, LL Cool J. Later on, Irv Gotti, Ja Rule, and 50 Cent all broke from around the same way and became impact playas in the rap game.

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Two members of another group, A Tribe Called Quest came from this laboratory. Phife Dog and Q-Tip. They met in church at age four and became family. According to Tip, Phife was ready to spit at the age of 9. Tip was a little reticent, and didn’t get with the program until he was 12.

The release of Fatback Band’s King Tim The III, the first recorded rap jawn sparked it. Tip was already combustible, he had been exposed to a diverse mixture of musical styles through his father’s jazz habit and collection; his mom’s blues recordings and his sister’s live rap tapes and funk 45’s.

Other influences came from; the jazz fusion collection of an aunt, the soul and dance hits that played at the house parties of extended family members, the deep and diverse New York radio scene of the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s, and a healthy dose of church singing. All of this combined with the pain and stuggle of a youth that included his father’s untimely death from emphysema when Tip was 16.

Heartbreak caused him to run away from home. This time was spent sleeping on the A train and at the Harlem apt of New York radio legend Kool DJ Red Alert whenever he could. This prepared the young hip hop star to spit lava. Music was a release from tensions at home and a way to both kill and express the pain of growing up Black in a Regan era innercity.

While struggling to find his way into the New York game, he stumbled upon a few like minded MCs and cliqued up. They were named, The Native Tounges. As has been documented many times before, they flipped the game on it’s ear.

Tribe had the biggest impact of them all. They made the most adventerous recordings, had the most commercial success and kept it hot for a decade.

And then it all ended. The market changed. Afro-centric and progressive hip hop’s bubble burst. Kids wearing leather medaillons of Africa were not in vouge.

Easy, Dre, Snoop, Diddy, Biggie and Pac became the flavor. Tribe broke up. Tip went solo. He signed a deal with Arista that I guided him into. He dropped the uneven recording Amplified. The project contained the smash Vivrant Thing.

Arista founder and chieftan, Clive Davis was fired in an extremely public fashion and was replaced by Black Pop overlord, LA Reid. LA and Tip didn’t quite see eye to eye on creative direction and they parted ways.

The Ab & The Ruler

THE AB & THE RULER

That was eight years ago. It got a little interesting after that. He recorded enough music for 4 albums and signed to Dreamworks and Geffen. He didn’t release any of these recordings. One of them has created a legendary buzz around the game and he was prepared to release it under the name, Kamaal The Abstract. You can learn more about it at http://www.myspace.com/kamaaltheabstract.

While working with Jayson Jackson as his manager, he was signed to Motown by Sylvia Rhone. He spent 3 years cutting his Motown debut. It was time well spent.

After nearly a decade’s absence from the charts, The Ab is about to release a brilliant new collection of hip hop songs entitled The Renaissance. His love letter to the crazy circumstances of his youth, New York and the golden age of the ol skool.

Shit is banging. The project is written, produced and arranged by, The Ab. All except the party jam, Movin a heat rock performed in the style of seminal hip hop duo, Supa Luva Cee and Casanova Rudd and rocked just so over a loop of The Jackson 5’s Dancing Machine and credited to deceased Abstract discovery, J Dilla.

Many of the styles, influences, collaboraters and feeling of the journey are represented. He appropriates and channels the personality and flow of Rakim on the title track. A peek into the time before he formed Tribe and was rhyming for survival while sleeping on the A Train. The Sergio Leone influenced music bed casts our hero as a pasta western desperado, taking out all rivals in rap showdowns all over his hood and on all stops before Far Rockaway.

The greasy, nasty, funky, Man Woman Boogie ft, Floetry ex-pat, Amanda Diva’s singing cameo is sneaky. There’s a little bit of the feeling of Stevie Wonder’s Black Man, Weather Report’s Jaco Pastorious’ bass playing, Level 42’s synth funk and 80’s after hours dance clubs all blended into a left field burner.

Dancing on Glass is a showcase of verbal dexterity. Kid flaunts the ill willy and drops a beat from some long forgotten loop of, Alphonse Muzon and Larry Coryell’s that was jacked from one of his aunt’s fusion records. He taunts the obsession that has gripped the game with, “what da hook gone be.”

Also featured are D’Angelo and Raphael Saadiq. On a pair of breezy midtempo offerings. D’Angelo sings the chorus on, Believe, a churchy and smooth encouragement to stay at it. Ray blesses us with a pop slick rendering on, Wefightwelove.

If you haven’t heard the begging jawn, Getting Up, last summer’s single, don’t worry it’s included.

The contender to make this a classic Abstract project? A track called, Life Is Betta a reference to the style of British soul bohos, Loose Ends that features Norah Jones and name checks the greats; LL, Love Bug Starski, Busy B, Kool Herc, Mastardon, Run, The Get Fresh Crew and on and on and on. It let’s us know how improved the world has been since we all first heard hip hop.

Motown is struggling to get this record exposed and positioned. Apparently, records with Norah Jones, D’Angelo and Rapahel Saadiq don’t fit in as easily as they once did. That is neither here nor there because this is a welcomed return to the game by one of the most special talents that hip hop as ever produced. Get one and see if I’m telling the truth.

insideplaya

RIP Johnathan Davis II, Shaka Malik, Dilla

1 love to Phife Diggity, Leyla Turkkan, Glen E, Capt. Pissy, Baby Bam, The Zulu Nation, The Ostins, Red Hot Lover Tone, Drew, Nick Martinelli and….The Wirk

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As promised, The Epicurean has filed the latest chapter of, The Chronicles. Please find his account of The Rock The Bells experience below.

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The Rock The Bells Chronicles XV
by The Epicurean

And so it comes to an end, as all thing must I suppose. But haven’t we been blessed with so much flava’ while it was goin down? I have been working in this game for 15 yrs and have seen my fair share of tours and this has been special.

I have routed promo tours in vans with Red & Meth where the weed game was so serious, I had to make sure our rooms were booked in blocks, in the back of the hotel so we didn’t get arrested. Corporate jet tours with the likes of En Vogue where the hair, make up and styling crew get paid better than the artists do. Then there’s what I like to call the “Hustler’s Delight”, touring with that captain of industry, Sean “Diddy” Combs. In the lineage of Frank Lucas, Nicky Barnes and all the other legendary Harlem hustlers, Puff made sure everyone on the payroll had a specific function.

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(Harlem Hustler Nicky Barnes)

The pretty boys got sent into the audience to scoop the late-night entertainment, the numbers men took their posts outside the arenas to scalp the comp tickets given to them that were supposed to be for press, radio and retail, the thugs got hit with consignment for the daily pre-show dice game with instructions to double their money and the truly enterprising got the opportunity to see Diddy conduct the whole operation while making sure Lil Kim, Faith and the Lox had the right outfit on…Masterful. I never thought I’d see a man makin’ a strong six figure check every night be so deadly serious about gettin his cut from the evenings dice game but I guess its like Jeezy says…. “Trap or Die”.

Needless to say every tour has its own “swagger” and Rock The Bells 2008 is no different. With all tours there is the headliner who sets the tone for the tour, the entertainer who keeps the pressure on the headliner by blazing the show every night and the upstart who is a “would be” headliner waiting in the wings. Rock The Bells started in 2003 in some dusty southern Cali fair grounds. A post Miseducation L-Boogie was the headliner and Wu-Tang played the entertainers. We all waited to see how it was gonna go down and boy did it . The Wu blazed it and set the stage for Ms. Hills entrance. First she cleared the backstage area and then she refused to acknowledge anyone and wouldn’t respond when people spoke to her. The acts weren’t having it and neither was the crowd, she got the gas face from the groups and the crowd and was never invited back. Now we’ve all got our “brush” with L-Boogie post Grammy stories but this was a defining moment because it set the tone that RTB would be a tour for hip-hop and by hip hop, no fronting allowed! This would be a consistent theme, the Wu would eventually headline and it was love, Public Enemy would also headline and it was love, Rage Against the Machine would re-unite to headline and yes………it was all love.

I have the distinct duty of managing Mos Def who has been a part of every RTB tour to date, I had the good fortune to also manage L-Boogie for many years and made the initial introduction to the RTB principals so she could do her thing (wether it was well received or not), and I also managed Tribe for a spell and greased the wheel which would eventually lead to this years top billing. It’s a family affair no doubt so when the Abstract and I hatched the plan to shuttle the inside playa on the scene it was, you guessed it….all love.

He made his first cameo in Miami where the only thing hotter than the weather and the topless jawns poolside was an oversized NORE sporting a diamond/emerald encrusted Newport box on his neck while panting thru “Superthug”. The Inside Playa connected with old friends like Mase from De La and made new ones like the Wirk’s younger brother Shaheen and it was…all love.

Three hours after a 6am flight we hit JFK to do the disco in the birthplace of hip hop, New York, New York. For those of who read the 3 installation of the Chronicles you know how it went down. Slick Rick made a cameo as did Pharoah Monch. The first couple of hip-hop Jay-Z and Beyonce even stepped off a boat docked behind the Jones Beach amphitheater to make their heat felt. We provided a party away from the party in the form of a trailer with eats, food and beats and for a good time to be had by all. Whoever we didn’t see play on stage eventually came thru for leg, thigh or some tater’ salad. The run was so special the Abstract and I conspired again to keep the Playa on the Inside and whisk him off to the west coast for the next run.

With every show and different city comes the promise of meeting new friends and forging new bonds, truth be told this is what makes touring so special. The shows are good but the reactions of new fans, the flavors of different locales is what keeps the Ep in the mix going strong when the rigors of the road start to wear you down. The west coast would be no different, the first act would introduce a new starlet to the set, Lara (yes Lara, named after Julie Christie’s character in Dr. Zhivago). She is a 20’s something pop singer with strong melodies and a heavy hand at the bar. She made some mean Martinis at the Hazards impromptu BBQ for the I.P. I indulged, shook a leg or two and paid the price the next day, maybe you read about it.

Another integral character was introduced as well, Rena. Drop dead gorgeous, smart as a whip but cool as a cucumber. She is definitely a jawn you would read about in a Easy Rollins novel and quite possibly could have bodied Jennifer Beals for the role in Devil In A Blue Dress. She’s holdin the I.P. down in sickness and in health, its very touching and I begin to wonder why I can’t fall into such comfortable circumstances as those and then I remember i’m fuckin with a pro and have much to learn.

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From this point on the I.P. and I experience a bevy sensations, we indulge in the sounds of Chick Corea, Sergio Mendes, “Suavicito by Santana but not Carlos people, his younger brother Maalo! Johnny Hammond, Sly Stone and the Godfather of Soul.

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I’m entranced, captivated, inspired even. Between the sounds, the smell of the Pacific while driving on the coast and the exquisite company of the I.P. I have the sudden urge to eat! Eat well! Fish of all different kinds, appetizers, Mexican food, organic beef. We indulge in the finest Wines, Proseco’s, Ports, micro brews and Pale Ales. I have taken this drive many many times but mostly for delf and never with a trusted co-pilot so I make it my duty to show my guest the best our journey has to offer. We indulge, fall under the weather, get right, begin to indulge again, and spread love….. its the Brooklyn way!

to be continued…

The Epicurean

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This space was to be taken over for a brief moment by The Epicurean, Jayson Jackson. As a guest blogger, he was due to bring you the final filing of The Rock The Bells Chronicles. A look at the ol skool tour from the perspective of community, travel, food, friends and music.

The last date on the American tour played Seattle, Washington. I did not attend but The Ep did. Technical difficulties beyond his control have kept him from the web with his flavorful observations. We anxiously await the resolution of his issues. ‘Til then, I will humbly try and continue The Plugged In series.

Wolf Blitzer is on the tube prodding, “the best political team in television” to give deeper meaning to the shameful end the, “straight talk express” is coming to.

In the face of a 14% lead by Sen. Obama, former POW Navy man and Republican standard bearer, Sen. John McCain is letting the irony of a Republican expressing concern over voter registration fraud elude him. He seems to have lost the plot.

I’ve not paid much attention to the accusations, counter attacks, insinuations and lies that have marred the last few days of the campaign. I’ve been turned off by the campaigning. I’m ready for the electing and the governing. It’ll be interesting to see Democrats control both houses and the executive branch simultaneously.

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While all of this has been going on, I’ve been working on piecing together a feature length documentary that celebrates an important milestone in hip hop. The package isn’t complete yet. No further details are available at this time.

While getting in the mindset for the project, I’ve been immersed in music, film and magazines. I read a piece on Paul Newman that appeared in last month’s Vanity Fair. I re-watched his turn as an alcoholic attorney on a losing streak in The Verdict. I watched Factory Girl, the biopic of, “it girl” and Warhol muse, Edie Sedgewick.

I culled the You Tube archives and listened to Slave, Cameo, Bernard Wright, Jane Child, Wrex ‘n Effect, Weather Report, Al Jarreau and others. I laced a few citizens of Soul City with e-mailed files of my choices. I found some strong Marvin Gaye cuts on the i-Pod.

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I’ve been having rich conversations with fellow creative types about art and culture. I’d also spoken with a friend who just likes to keep it hot.

She’s been on the arena tour circuit lately and has seen a couple of headliners from the eighties and nineties that can still fill basketball arenas. This had both of us looking back and the subjects of R & B legacy group, Levert and my old friends, The Beastie Boys came up.

My friend was laboring under the impression that Levert’s ’87 smash Casanova was an obscure record by the group. She felt that not many people had heard or knew the record. I differed. I don’t know it could be generational.

The record was the biggest of the group’s career and wound up at no. 4 on Billboard’s Pop chart. Super producers, The Calloway brothers (Midnight Star) incorporated a go go rhythm under the romantic growling of Gerald Levert and scored big.

Go go is the indigenous DC party groove that was practiced by groups like, Rare Essence, Trouble Funk, Redd Hott and Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers.

I knew this already, because I have something of a personal history with Levert. Two thirds of the group were made up by the late brothers, Sean and Gerald Levert. Both of them were sons of Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame legend, Eddie Levert, lead singer of The O’Jays. The last major label the O’Jays recorded for was EMI Records. During their stint there, I was their A & R man. I essentially rubber stamped whatever the group wanted and we came up with a top 10 R & B single called Somebody Else Will.

I loved the group as a kid and was honored to be involved with the guys who’d recorded Love Train, Back Stabbers, I Love Music, Give The People What They Want, Brandy, Stairway To Heaven and the rest of their platinum output. I loved rubbing up against that much history.

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Giant Records, the label that I’d previously done A & R for, gave me the opportunity to work directly with Levert. Three years after the smash release, Casanova caused so much damage, I hired them to participate on the soundtrack of the crack thriller, New Jack City.

They appeared on screen with Troop and sang a medley of Stevie Wonder’s Living For The City and the O’Jays’ classic For The Love Of Money. On the actual CD, Queen Latifah joined them and spit a bit of lava on the track.

Gerald went on to become a solo star in his own right, which eventually broke the group up. He died unexpectedly a few years ago. Sean never achieved the solo success of his brother or father and wandered on the dark side until his untimely death.

The question about which one of The Beasties had married, Ione Skye was asked. Ad Rock was the answer. As the first head of promotion at Def Jam, I worked the band’s first 12″ release and have known many of their wives and girlfriends.

I’d been very social with Def Jam founders Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons. Club hopping and after hours provided our bonding experience. Our favorite hangout was The Roxy. If show biz is high school with money then The Roxy was the cafeteria. All of the hip hop playas of note congregated there.

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THE CAFETERIA CIRCA ’83-’86

I saw The Beasties do their first live show as a rap crew at the Roxy. They rocked sweat suits and doo rags. Fortunately a more authentic fashion sense took hold in their later years.

All of this film, music, history and conversation took me back to another meeting that I’d had in The Roxy in early ’84.

At the time, Def Jam was a production deal that was distributed through Arthur Baker’s Streetwise Label. Arthur had been a disco producer that I’d met while in college in Boston. He’d found an independent investor, started a label and signed, Boston’s New Edition. At the time, he was flush with cash.

Rick Rubin was a college student at NYU with a lot of energy. He’d discovered and signed Boogie Down based MC, T-La Rock. He cut a dangerously edgy street anthem called It’s Yours on Mr. La Rock and caught the attention of the rap world.

The 12″ single sold 80,000 copies. Mostly along the eastern seaboard. Baker wasn’t in the mood to pay Rubin or La Rock their royalties and stiffed them.

Not one to be easily discouraged, Rubin partnered with Simmons on a newly reorganized and independently distributed, Def Jam Recordings and signed LL Cool J. They released I Need A Beat and history was made.

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THE INNOVATORS

While all of this was going down The Roxy had lost some steam. The Euro trash scenesters that had been so enamored of this emerging movement had moved on. In their place? A more hard core rap fan had begun to frequent the club, along with die hard young execs trying to keep pace with the quickly changing scene.

Sometime in the winter of ’83-84, I was there making my usual Friday night appearance. There was a tall, balding, middle aged white man with glasses in the place to be. A guy named, David McLeod.

I introduced myself and asked if he was a writer.

“No, a film producer.” He answered.

“Anything I may have seen?” I replied.

“Heaven Can Wait.”

“So you’re cool with Warren Beatty huh?

“We’ve worked together.”

With the impertinence of a youngster I said, “You can’t possibly be still living off of those royalties. You done anything lately?”

Amused, he answered, “Reds.”

So I say, “Oh, you and Warren Beatty are reeeel tight huh?”

“We’re partners.”

I then took the opportunity to express my belief that Beatty was not taken too seriously by the film establishment at that time, and that his matinee idol looks obscured his gifts. I loved his stuff. The world was filled with possibility. I was 24 in a rap club.

McLeod was impressed with my understanding of Beatty’s positioning in the culture and asked me if he ever needed some music for a film, could I be of some help. I told him of course I could.

Before we exchanged numbers and I made my way up to the VIP lounge he asked, “Why’d you introduce yourself?”

I told him, “You’re a middle aged white man in a rap club. I figured that you were with, Newsweek.”

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BEATTY’S MASTERWORK

A few weeks passed and David called from LA. He was working on something and he might want some rap to play in it.

I saw David and his youngest son, Donnie around campus quite a bit over the next couple of years. At The Apollo for a Doug E. Fresh show. In Providence at Run/DMC’s Raising Hell Tour. Donnie, at the legendary chain snatching fest spot, Union Square at a Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince gig.

Finally, in the winter of ’86 David told me that he had a film that he was working on and asked if I could drop by his production offices to see some footage.

He and his partner, Beatty were working on two films that year. One was a Molly Ringwald/Robert Downey Jr. starrer called The Pick Up Artist. The other, a Beatty, Dustin Hoffman disaster called Ishtar.

David wanted the rap music for a sequence in The Pick Up Artist. In the film, after picking Ringwald up using mad game, Downey Jr. drives her to Central park for a little mid day back seat action. After the wham bam, mam says thank you and bounces. She then decides not to give him her name.

Open after their encounter, our hero follows her through the streets and trains all the way to Coney Island. Where she lives with her alcoholic and degenerate gambler father, Dennis Hopper.

McLeod wanted my recommendation for music for the scene. The Beasties were the hottest thing in the country at the time. Def Jam had ceased to be an independently distributed label and had struck a deal with the then CBS Records.

The Beasties Licensed To Ill was the second LP released on the label and went on to sell 4 million units. They’d been on tour for most of ’86 with a new group, Public Enemy opening for them.

I’d moved on to Select Records but was still very much in the Def Jam mix. I’d heard License to Ill from the demo stages, so I informed McLeod that a cut called She’s Crafty was perfect for the sequence.

The producer asked could I arrange for a deal for the track. I knew the manager pretty well. At the time, they were represented by Simmons’ RUSH Productions.

During a brief break from touring, I arranged to bring the band to the Beatty/McLeod offices for a meeting.

The meeting was at the Brill building. The site of many rock and roll era song publishing companies and now a home for film post production facilities and offices.

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THE BRILL BUILDING THE ’50’s TUNE FACTORY

I was nervous, I had a check riding on the outcome. Ad Rock was a bit rambunctious, he kept interrupting and asking, “When can I meet Molly Ringwald?”

Now me. I’m from the school that dictates that you get the check, then you ask about the girls.

McLeod was about to turn the lights down and show the sequence in question when, Beatty walks in with one of the great American directors, Hal Ashby.

Ashby had directed, Jack Nicholson and Randy Quaid in The Last Detail, Beatty in Shampoo and Peter Sellers in Being There – he was the goods.

McLeod asked me to introduce everybody, after he made the joke that you just never know who you’re gonna run into around here.

The legends left and we showed the footage to the band. They decided that they didn’t want any part of it. I was crushed. I left disheartened at the result but pleased to have met Ashby and Beatty in a work environment.

Several weeks later, I got a call from McLeod. Apparently he and Ringwald decided to take a trip to, New Orleans to see a Beasties’ show. Ad Rock and Ringwald hit it off. They decide to collaborate. My choice of She’s Crafty was more appropriate than I’d thought.

Ad Rock and Molly were an item for a while. The cafeteria had moved south a few blocks to Nells. The spot that really began to mix hip hop, fashion, film and business people and treat us all the same. I ran into The King Ad Rock and he thanked me for playing a roll in getting him together with Ringwald.

The film itself was somewhat forgettable. The first 20 minutes are a hilarious look at the life of a young player who lives with his grandmother. The rest of the film is a mish mash of gangsters and gambling. Not one of James Toback’s best efforts.

Vanessa Williams made her screen debut in the picture. Downey Jr. was charming. Dennis Hopper was making a comeback and convincingly played the first of many drunks that would comprise most of his work from that period. Ringwald’s best work was already behind her.

McLeod had a run in with the law, left the country and was found dead near some train tracks in Canada. Beatty’s disappointment in him is discussed in the book Beatty: A Private Man.

Ashby died of a heart attack and never directed again after the day we met.

The Beasties kept illing and rocking.

I got a check. 10 % of The Beastie’s participation. Thanks to Rush. And oh yeah, I got my first on screen film credit. After the end credits crawl by there are 5 names that are given special thanks. There’s me, three others and Stevie Wonder. The end credit theme is the smash Casanova by Levert.

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Before we leave Carmel for good, we stop by a Starbucks and I cop a sandwhich and an amazing cinnamon bun. The kind that requires a knife and fork. I split the sandwhich with The Ep and put him down on the bun.

We continue our trek in earnest through some of the most beautiful scenery that I’ve ever seen. There are tourists all along the highway and the beach. Seagulls, penguins and children with digital cameras are spotted every couple of miles. Couples of every age are walking. Bicycle riders are enjoying the ride in safety.

The Ep has a love affair with Cali. A couple of times a year, he flirts with the idea of relocating permanantly. He hasn’t figuerd out how to make it work just yet but she’s calling him on the reg. He answers her frequently and they have an episode, two or three times a year. He takes a room at their hideaway in Venice beach and they do their thing.

His Biggie like love of Cali is fascinating to me. I’ve never loved any place but NY. For me, all others are just cheap imitations. NY means; music, food, women, spots and opportunity. You can walk down a street in The City and seriously chage your circumstances. There’s no place like home.

Cali is pleasant on the eyes but NY is a matter of the heart. Because I grew up with, and have been deeply influenced by hip hop, The City’s greatest cultural contribution. I was provided with a soundtrack of love songs from my town. NY was a place where you learned to find beauty in the ugly. Especially in the era of Reganomics.

This morning’s trip requires no training to appreciate the beauty of it. I’ve been a bit passive about the i-pod programming but now I’m inspired. We get warmed up with a little Wes Montgomery and Freddy Hubbard. Then, I scroll through the album files and choose, Kool & The Gang’s Light Of Worlds. The pinnacle of the band’s seventies output, it’s an afro-centric plea for higher purpose. It’s jazz funk and representative of the Nation Of Islam’s influence on their native Jersey City.

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You can hear strains of Coltrane, Sly and big band throughout. Not suprisingly, The Ep connects with the midtempo, The Fruit Man. The jawn ends with a guy hawking apples, watermelon, oranges and the like. The classic, Summer Madness is the featured bit of genius.

Like most everybody else, The Ep has heard, Summer Madness countless times. The jawn that Lebron James had playing when he jumped into the swmiing pool dressed as the elder in that hot Nike add of a few seasons back. But he’s suprised that this is the same band that released; Ladies Night, Celebration, Get Down On It and the other eighties disco offenses. He remarks that, “…they sound like two different bands. What happened?”

I tell him, “The need to crossover and sell more records to white folks, the opportunity that the dance music market provided and the direction that Eumir Deodato took them in, changed their sound.”

Deodato was a Brazillian jazz, funk, pop keyboardist, arranger, producer and artist who recorded for the hip jazz label, CTI. He was a multi genre specialist, who was competitive in every area he chose to be.

As a band leader, he’d damn near had the record of the year in ’73 with a funked up smash version of the, Theme From 2001: A Space Odyssey. A transformative instrumental that launched him to national prominence.

Later, he’d work with Earth Wind & Fire on their, All ‘n All album and laced them with the track, Brazillian Rhyme. The classic interlude and beat break that featured a raging guitar solo from Al McKay. He also had a run with the majors, when Warner Bros. tried to cash in on the jazz funk craze by signing him, George Benson and Al Jarreau.

Deodato’s Warner Bros debut, Love Island contained the haunting, San Juan Sunset. The basis of the loop for Lupe Fiasco’s Paris Tokyo. There’s a remix of the Fiasco jawn that features; Pharrell, The Ab and an impressive new rookie songstress, Sarah Green that’s required listening.

No doubt that Eumir was timlessly cool but his collaboration with Kool & The Gang resulted in some other shit. When ever I run into Kool around campus, I think of the heat that the band had before they went pop.

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We soon leave the coast and we’re up in the hills. We pass by what has been identified as the, “most expensive gas station” in the country. 60 Minutes has done a piece on the literal highway robbery being perpetrated here.

They were asking over 6 bucks a gallon for premium. They also have espresso for sale. We pass on the gas and the coffee. The Ep pulls out some fruit, a muffin and some water from an earlier stop.

As is the norm with The Ep, the question of food soon becomes an issue. Shortly after the stop, we exit off into some small town with one main drag and a forgotten name. It’s slightly more inland. It’s nearly 100 degrees at 11:30 am. We are providing local diversity for a few hours.

We drive down the center strip in search of the flavor. There’s a little cafe that looks like the real. From the outside, it appears to be the kind of spot that sells boldly reinterperated visions of turkey sandwhiches with very limp lettuce and five or six kinds of sparkling water. They aren’t open for business.

We circle back to investigate a spot that I thought had the look. There’s a brick facade and the word bakery is on the window.

Most everyone inside the place is slightly over weight, cheerful and eating. The joint is packed. We’re seated next to two women and a guy. The Ep has got a phone call to handle so I order.

The corned beef hash, scrambled eggs with the short stack is the play. The oj is fresh squeezed. The Ep comes back from the call and he’s feeling it and goes the same direction. He stops short of the short stack and decides to cop a freshly baked cinnamon bun.

The hash is a revelation. The Ep begins to testify. One of the women at the other table has been scoping our plates. I break the ice.

Turns out that she’s an Orange County resident who has relocated from Louisiana. Her companions are her sister and brother in-law. She’s an opera singer and asks about our hustle. She smiles and loudly tells her fam, “See, I told you they were in the record business.”

The fashion statement that’s being made by The Ep’s stingy brim is a dead give away. Later I tell him that he looked like he was a bass player for Robert Randolph with that hat on.

We pass a few enjoyable words about The Louis Armstrong festival that is held near the Phat Lady’s native Lafayette. I ask if there are any covers of Pops’ catalog performed. As it turns out, it’s just music played in his name.

We finish and say our goodbyes. The road beckons. Back out on the highway we are listening to, Loose Ends’ Gonna Make You Mine and the rare, Don’t Worry, Bernard Wright’s Who Do You Love and of course, a few aspirational tracks from Donald Byrd’s Places and Spaces album.

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The mood changes and there’s a need to rock a little LL Cool J. Both The Ep and I are Def Jam alum so the music of The Greatest Of All Time has resonance.

There are 67 jawns available to be heard. We go in. The intensity of. Mama Said Knock You Out, rocks us. The smooth begging of, Around The Way Girl amuses. The pimping posture of, Booming Sytems and Big Ole Butt reminds us, that this is the MC who ladies love. The quirkiness of, Going Back To Cali seems even more appropriate. We reflect that James Todd Smith was a beast.

The highway, coast, jazz, funk, hip hop and soul all combine to remind me how the concept of freedom can be reinforced in simple ways.

The Ep is still talking food. Every time we drive by an In And Out Burger he asks if we need to stop and check one out. I’m beginnning to wonder if The Ep has a tape worm. I decline. Several times.

We hit the 10 and see a hottie in a black Porsche two seater. We paly tag with her for a few miles. She resembles Kim Kardhashian’s mom and she’s on an old fashioned car phone for her entire drive. She’s engrossed in her conversation.

As we’re pulling back into LA, The Ep does what he does and suggests another meal option. This time? Roscoe’s Chicken ‘n Waffles. How much temptation can one man take? I give in.

We choose the one on Gower and Sunset. The location nearest to Paramount Studios. We get there early in the dinner hour. Perfect for a table, shitty for a parking space.

We drive around the block and find a spot 1 block over. We’re seated right away. The smothered chicken livers with onions are speaking to me. I freak it with the collards and rice. I get waffles and give one to The Ep. He does the wings and some other stuff.

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My cold is still with me but I haven’t noticed it all day. I get dropped of at Rena’s. She’s gone back home to NY and left me with the keys. It’s a good thing that she did. Miss MTV had invited me to stay with her but I haven’t heard from her since the previous weekend.

The Rock The Bells Tour would move on to Denver without me. Tribe would not be headlining nor would they perform at all. Phife’s health and old beefs would cause the band to break up again. Plans for a new record have been cast aside. In their absence. Talib Kweli and The Mos Def most special one regrouped their back pack crew, Balckstar headlined and got money.

Later in the the week, the eyes of the country would be turning toward Denver for other reasons. The historic Democratic National Convention would nominate the first black presidential candidate. News of this event would dominate the airwaves for the weeks that followed.

I came home to a quiet and empty house. No Rena, no lesbian, no rabbits. The silence was a welcome change. The sun was setting and I don’t turn the lights on. I crumble into the couch.

The Rock The Bells Chronicles has been a look back at a tremendous month spent witnessing the strength of hip hop, community, family, food and travel. I was an eyewitness to history and a guest of friends.

After the Denver gig, the tour moved on to Seattle, Wa. I was not in attendance. I spoke with The Abstract Poetic at length the day before and he never mentioned that he and my favorite rap band of all time would regroup one more again and rock.

The Ep went north, handled his and called to say that, “Tribe is here.” We shared a laugh about the Ab’s secrecy and heat.

Jayson Jackson, The Epecurean will be taking over this page and filing the next and final installment of, The Chronicles. It will be his impressions of the RTB Seattle gig.

I will be returning from time to time to share insights and observations that will hopefully keep you Plugged In. Keep It Hot.

to be continued….

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1 love To Tribe, De La, Nas, Dante, The R, The Pharcyde, The Blackeyed Peas, The Green Eyed Bandit, Parish Making Dollars, Red and Meth, Busta Rhymes, Hammer, Jay Electronica, Spank Rock, Amanda Blank, DJ Khalil, Chace Infinite, Moe Stewart, Quiana Wallace, KD Flygirl, Faith Newman, Chrissy Murray, Michael Gonzales, Karuna, isabel, DJ Beverly Bond, The New Royales, Dead Prez, Plug 1, Plug 2, Plug 3, Prince Paul, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, The Funky Diabetic, Rebecca, DJ Scratch, Moti Shulman, Rahman, Preservation, Kobe Brown, Dave Gosset, Brian Koppelman, C-Line, Manjit, Jane Morledge, Stack Money, Miguel Mojica, Dante Ross, The Godfather Of Soul, El Torro Negro, The Hazzard Crew, The Hidden Beach clique, Umi, JB and Chang, Jonelle Boumel, Karen Kaufman Wilson, TP, Cory, Sade, Giada, Joan Morgan, Sophia Chang, Rush, Dr. Jeckyl, Nik Boogie, Pamela Gibson, BMC, Toni Ann, DJ Aphprodita, Light, Muhammad, Carolyn Benitez, Shacazia, Salaam Remi, Shaheen, Super Nat, D Prosper, The Standard Miami, The Hudson, The Clift, The Palo Alto Four Seasons, The Ab, The Ep, Rena and…The Wirk

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The music business attracts sensualists. People who respond powerfully to the taste, smell, touch, sight and sound of things. The ones that get the most hightened pleasure from these sensations, eventually begin to pursue them just for the sake of having the pleasure themselves. They are hedonists.

The Epicurean is a world class hedonist. Internationally known yet locally accepted. While I was catching up on phone calls, movies and rest, The Ep handled a bit of biz. This always gives him an excuse to get his hedonistic get down on.

His reports from the street include; his discovery of an organic soul food joint called, Farmer Browns, a Sunday afternoon examination of the Frida Khalo exhibition and a viewing of the current Woody Allen flick, Vicky Christina Barcelona. A comedic look at the relationship between a male artist and three women.

Apparently, the film is partially based on the stormy dynamic that existed between, Frida Khalo and her husband, Diego Rivera. It features, the latin “it” couple of the moment, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz as well as, Allen muse, Scarlett Johansson.

Also featured, is a shared tender moment between, Johansson and Cruz that’s worth the price of admission. The Ep had been enjoying his time in The Yay.

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SCARLET JOHANSSON & PENELOPE CRUZ

He counts cinema as one of his pleasures. One of them. But the real engines that drive him are, food and wine. He’s deadly with the wine list and nutz with the fine dining.

We check out of the Clift and I’m really dragging. It’s obvious that I’m more than a little sick. On the way north from LA, The Ep had been bitten by the bug but he had successfully flushed it with some NyQuil. I hadn’t been so lucky.

He was parked and waiting for me in front of the hotel. It was a blustery late summer morning. The kind that passes for spring in other parts of the country.

We were beginning the trip south to LA in the bat mobile. But first, a meal. The spot? The Fog CityDiner. A crazy upscale comfort food emporium. Dope spot.

I’d been there once before and I was happy to go again. They aren’t open for breakfast so you can’t even get a glass of water until somebody shoots the starter’s pistol.

I tried to hit ’em with a little of my ex promotion man’s persuasiveness. Nothing happening. We were told that we were fine gentleman and that we’d have to wait until noon to be served.

We posted up outside and watched people. Fashionable town SF. Very edgy.

A waitress appears at high noon with the menus. I go with the chicken quesadallias. The Ep cops a steak sandwhich. The quesadillias are real, the steak had no chance against the champ.

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SF COMFORT JOINT FOG CITY DINER

We finish and I think that we’re on our way. But no, there’s a spot on the wharf that sells salmon jerky. This we can not afford to pass up.

After having found illegal parking, Money gets the jerky. He’s serious about his prize. You can’t find this jerky just anywhere ya know.

We’re on the road for sure now. We take the sceneic route along the coast. Pretty country. Blue sky, mountain roads and ocean. Breath taking, really.

After a few hours we pull up to what appears to be a national park of some sort. There’s a young women at a toll taking booth dressed like Smokey The Bear. What I think is a national conservation park is actually the Pebble Beach golf course. The number 1 public golf course in the country.

The Ep has taken this trip before. Several times before. He’s at home. He drives us along a winding forest road with homes of all sizes and shapes on either side.

There are many, many different courses. It’s more than a golf course it’s a shrine to wealth. It’s a couple of bucks to see it but a few million to stay.

Before you know it, it’s time for another meal. Earlier, I’d passed on the jerky so I’m a little hungry. It’s a bit to soon for dinner but The Ep doesn’t stick to a strict meal schedule.

We sit outside at a hotel that overlooks the 18th hole of one of the courses. We order dessert first. I do something chocolate, The Ep gets the cheesecake.

There’s a conference call that Money has to take. We go inside and play the fire place. I order the tea, Henny, lemon and honey and try to get right.

The conference call is over and it’s time for another idea. Dinner. We go into the main dining room. It’s very clubby. Wood paneling and a bunch of old white men who look as though they’d seen Babe Ruth play in person.

The hostess is friendly. She asks us if we want to be seated near a flat screen. She’s got the Yankees on one of them. She tells us that her daughter was a schoolmate of the recently acquired hit man, Xavier Nady.

Nady has a sweet swing and his late season acquisition from the Pirates had boosted the hopes of the Yankee faithful. Unfortunately, his bat didn’t have enough hits in it, nor was there enough summer to keep The Bombers from going on an early vacation this year. Since Ruth is no longer active, we are the only ones paying attention.

While we’re waiting on the menus, I get a martini. The Ep does too. He gets the lamb chops and I do the crab cakes. The Pebble Beach Inn is the truth.

We hit the road and it’s getting dusky. We decide to take lodging in Carmel, a seaside resort that’s close to Pebble Beach.

More gorgeous homes. Some of them actually built into cliffs. I’m curious about what one must do for a living in order to have a home built into a cliff and if you must commute to keep the mortgage current.

The foam from the ocean is filling the night air with the scent of sea salt. The winding road is becoming darker. We quit for the night.

to be continued….

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1 love to Lisa Cortes, Ivy, Stack Money, Rena, Jane Eugene and…The Wirk

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The warm and restful sleep didn’t last long. I was out for about two or three hours before the phone rang. The Wirk was winging her way back east and checking in from a layover in Phoenix.

Sounding a bit too cheerful for that time of morning, she’d called to say thanks for a great time. I was a bit grouchy and I grumbled that she’s always welcomed. The truth is that the pleasure was definitely all mine.

I’ve got a headache and a fever. The different climates, food, settings, beds, people and such are finally taking it’s toll. The coughs are coming in seizures and they’re finishing in spasms. I’m sweating. I’m paying the price of doing too much.

The Ep has meetings in San Fran so we’re up and out before check out time at the Four Seasons. Pretty town, SF. I hadn’t been there in quite some time.

The last time was back in the early nineties. I was out on business for EMI. Jason Kidd was still at Berkley and having a stellar freshman year. In a stunning defeat of an incumbent, Bill Clinton had retaken the white house for the Democrats the month before. The Chronic was the record to beat.

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’92’s UNDISPUTED CHAMP 

 The reason that I was in town was this: there was an up and coming producer named Mo Stewart that I was to meet with. He knew a friend of mine who’d recently graduated from Stanford and she recommended that we link. I liked Moe’s stuff ok, but I was intrigued by the fact that he’d just scored a deal from the big baller in the yay area at the time, Hammer.

In late ’92, Hammer was just past the peak of an amazing five or six year run, the likes of which we haven’t seen since in the music business. I wasn’t down with the music he made. In fact, during my brief tenure at Jive, I passed on him. Unfotunately, to understand Hammer, you needed to see a video and all I had was a casette to listen to. Ultimately, I did learn to respect his marketing, performances and business acumen.

I went past the studio where Moe was working and half an hour or so into the meeting, in walks Hammer. Moe had set the meeting without telling his man. Hammer was wearing a camaflouge suit and kicking some ish about how the kid shouldn’t be taking label meetings without him.

I never did any business with Moe and I never saw him again after that. Except for at the RTB show in LA. He’s now consulting Dr. Dre.

Hammer was recording for EMI’s sister label, Capitol. The son of the chairman of both labels was the guy who brought me into the company. Ever the political sharpie, Hammer smelled opportunity like 50 smells beef. He invited me to the mansion where he would eventually shoot the, Pumps and Bumps video.

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PROOF THAT IT WAS HAMMER TIME!

The place was high on a hill in the town of, Richmond. There was a security station at the bottom of the hill. At night and against the stars, the house looked like a viewing post for NASA.

He’d just finished building the joint and there was no furniture in it. Everything was white except two commercial refrigerators. There was a pool inside and another one outside. It all smelled mad new. When we spoke, you could hear echos.

He was proud to show me what his success had enabled him to do for his family. He’d built it for 10 million dollars. If we knew then what we would know soon, he wouldn’t have bothered to furnish it.

No one was in the house but me, him, his wife and their daughter. The square footage of the daughter’s room was more than any apartment that I’d had up until that point.

He played a few groups for me that he was working with and looking to get distribution for. Nothing clicked. He was a gracious host.

The next time I saw him was the day before the first inaugaral of Clinton. He’d set a meeting with the chairmain of the EMI Music Group and I was asked to join.

Hammer didn’t have much time, he had to be in Washington for the ceremonies. He was an invited guest. While we were in the meeting, we were interupted, Hammer had to take a call from Donald Trump.

The ride from Palo Alto was smooth. A little Santana, Herbie Hancock and War are the i-pod choices. We’re pulling up on Union Square to the Clift hotel. We pass a museum that has a Frida Khalo exhibition. It’s Sunday and a gorgeous August morning. I’m miserable.

I check into my room and don’t get out of bed for two days and three nights. The Clift is part of what used to be known as the Schrager Group of hotels. A chain of boutiques that catered to the arts and crafts set and the fabulous.

The places were founded by former NY niteworld overlord, Ian Schrager. One of the guys that owned NY’s Studio 54 and later, the Paladium. I’d been a guest of Ian’s many times.

I wouldn’t get out of bed until Tuesday. As I said I’d checked in on Sunday. I caught up on movies, phone calls and ate room service.

I regained a bit of strength. I needed it. The drive back to LA was an adventure.

to be continued….

1 love to Rush, Dr. Jeckyl, Wendy Credle, Apple, Claudia, Qiana, KD, Dave Gossett, the EMI crew and…The Wirk

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