My 15-Month Hip-Hop Journey
I didn’t even realize that I was on a hip-hop journey until a few months ago. I was reflecting on events I had attended, people I had met, and friendships that have been forged. My life for the past 15 months has been unbelievable. So many things I never expected happened. Some of my dreams have been fulfilled. (I can cross 1 or 2 things off the bucket list.)
At first, I had credited Rock the Bells 2010 with the start of my journey, but it went back just a few months to that. So, here’s my 15-month timeline of my hip-hop journey:
- May 5, 2010: I was on vacation in Virginia Beach, and I saw that The Foreign Exchange would be at Time Lounge in Norfolk the same week with Yahzarah for her album, “The Ballad of Purple Saint James,” release party. I had told a couple of my friends about it, but no one was able to come with me. That night, I met Yahzarah, Phonte, and Nicolay. WOW!
- August 29, 2010: I wanted to attend Rock the Bells in DC, but none of my people were going. I had accepted I wasn’t gonna make it and cried about it. Kat, my hip-hop sister in Alabama, hit me up about 2 weeks prior and said she wanted to go. She scrambled to get everything in order for us, and we were there! I had been to RTB ’08, but this was more memorable because I got to see KRS, DJ Premier, and Wu-Tang for the first time. What made this experience even better was actually meeting KRS, RZA, Method Man, ODB’s son, Bokeem Woodbine, and Chang Weisberg, the founder of RTB!! Check out ATCQ: http://youtu.be/xsNxl02Oa80
- October 15, 2010: At RTB, I picked up a flyer for Duck Down’s 15th anniversary tour in Baltimore for Sunday, the 16th. I was planning to go to that until I looked online and saw that they were coming to NC on a Saturday. That worked better for me. I’ve been a fan of Duck Down since forever, so I had to be there. It was at this show that I first got a taste of being in the front row. I also met Steele, Sean Price, Showtyme, Kosha Dillz, Pig Pen, and Pat Maine. I was too shook to even approach Pharoahe Monch. Outside of Cat’s Cradle, my uncle literally bumped into Big Pooh, so we met him, too. It was at that point that I was determined to meet 9th Wonder within the next 6 months so that I could say I met each member of Little Brother within a year. Also, I met a cool dude, DJJamOn, that night. Here’s a clip of Skyzoo’s performance: http://youtu.be/aLEZn33C0AQ
- From October to December: At the Duck Down show, I saw Rapsody for the first time, and I just had to know more about her. Through my research, I found that 9th Wonder had started a record label, Jamla, and she was signed to it along with some other artists. After “Return of the B-Girl” dropped, Rapsody instantly became one of my favorite MCs. Once I was able to stop playing her CD day in and day out, I started checking out more of the Jamla artists.
- January 14, 2011: Through Facebook and Twitter, I learned about 95 Live. It sounded good. Plus, it was 9th Wonder’s birthday celebration. So, my cousin, none_other, and I made our way down to Raleigh. I have NEVER been to a party like this! Rapsody was there. Big Remo was there. The Away Team was there. (DJJamOn was there, too.) I got up the nerve to go meet Sean Boog since I had just seem him & Khryis perform at the Duck Down show. I was amazed to find out how humble that guy was. Later that night, I was about 5 feet away from Rapsody, and I HAD to meet her. I left this dude who was dancing with me to go tell her how much I loved ROTBG.
- February 22, 2011: The Student Hip-Hop Organization at UVA brought 9th Wonder to their school for a lecture. There was no way that 9th could be in my backyard without me seeing him, so none_other and I made our way up to Charlottesville. Rapsody and Sundown made the trip with 9th. My excitement went though the roof when I saw her. I didn’t even realize Sundown was there until I was looking through my pictures. (I feel bad about that.) At the end of the lecture, 9th was gracious enough to give autographs. At that moment, I was praying for a picture. I got it, too, right before the SHHO kicked everyone out. YES! I had met each member of Little Brother way ahead of time! I also got a picture with my favorite b-girl 🙂 Here’s part 1 of 9th’s interview: http://vimeo.com/24284212
- February 26, 2011: Okay, so we can’t get enough of 9th Wonder! My road dawg, none_other, and I hit 85 South to see the Jamla showcase at The Brewery in Raleigh. We were running slightly behind, so I was stressing about that. One memory I have was bumping “Heat Writer II” for the last 30 minutes of our drive. I was irritated because I wanted to be in the front row. I’m only 5’4. Mainly dudes are at hip-hop shows, and most of them are taller than I am. I WANTED TO BE ABLE TO SEE! For some reason, no one was even NEAR the stage when we walked in. Last ones in, first ones at the stage though! If I didn’t love Jamla before, I did after that night! (http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/12970472) 9th recognized us from the other night. (Check out the video at 3:40!) Highlight: HaLo looked me dead in my face during the part in “Oh Really” that goes, “I said, hey, Miss Pretty. You should come holla. She like, oh really?” AHHHHH! I didn’t get any pictures with any Jamla artists, but none_other & I got a pic with DJJamon. Also, I made sure to speak to my favorite b-girl 🙂
- April 10, 2011: Kenneth Price filmed a documentary about 9th Wonder, and the first screening was going to be at the River Run Film Festival in 9th’s hometown, Winston-Salem. I made the drive by myself that Sunday afternoon, and it was so worth it. You’ve gotta catch “The Wonder Year” when it comes to your town, or near it, or even three hours away. DJJamOn showed up at the screening as well. I saw Khrysis and I could only muster up a generic, “Hi. How are you?’ (Yes, I’m a punk.) Check out Q&A session: http://vimeo.com/25466836
- April 2011: I had a dream one night that I was at Bright Lady working for 9th Wonder. Don’t know what I was doing, but I loved my job. That was like one of the best dreams ever! (I actually had that dream twice.)
- May 12, 2011: Thankfully, I was on vacation this week so that I could catch this Jamla show on a Thursday night. As soon as none_other & I walked in, we ran into TeamRapsody. Thee Tom Hardy, Big Remo, HaLo, and Sean Boog performed. My friend, average_jae, was texting me, and he told me that his friend, rian12hamilton, was at the show, too. There was another girl at the show who I noticed because she was rapping along, and I thought that was pretty cool. (Later on, I realized that the girl was sdionne82.) I was determined to meet HaLo that night. I got a pic with him and Sean Boog. Ka$h harassed me over Rian’s flag. I met Heather Victoria that night, too. Check out the video of Remo performing the intro to his mixtape, “Robin Hood Ree”: http://youtu.be/a_l43xLlk80
- May 22, 2011: My second time seeing The Foreign Exchange! Once again, it’s in May! I spotted TToTheING waving the FE flag, and I tweeted him. None_other & I had just seen him in Raleigh at the Jamla show waving the Jamla flag real high. Here’s a video from that night: http://youtu.be/SGi7HD-rQ7c. You can see none_other in the white tee with the baseball cap. You can’t really see me, but I’m on the right.
- June 1, 2011: Jamla Records announced that they were accepting applications for their marketing team, Jamla Army. I almost went into panic mode when I saw this. Was my dream going to come true?? I had to apply!! I couldn’t do it immediately because I had to get my thoughts in order. My mind was racing! I was working on my application when I started seeing tweets about who had been selected. I was excited because most of the people that were selected in that first round I already knew from following them on Twitter. As I was completing my application, my laptop started crashing. I was almost sick at the thought of losing all that I had typed, but I hit “submit” before the computer died. Thank you, Jesus!
- June 3, 2011: The first show of the Middle East Mic Fest was in Roanoke, VA. My uncle, none_other, and I hit 460 West to see the show featuring Poe Mack and some of Jamla’s artists. Actual Proof, Rapsody, Big Remo, Thee Tom Hardy, and Rapsody performed. This was another moment of punking out. I only had the nerve to chat with Boog and Rapsody. I did get to meet TrueSchoolVince for the first time. (Here’s a clip of Enigma during Actual Proof’s set: http://youtu.be/tcTlyz7fSc0)
- June 11, 2011: About a week prior, Sean Boog started tweeting about shooting a video for a song off his new mixtape, “Phantom of the Jamla,” and he was inviting all Jamla supporters to come down to Raleigh to be in the video. EXCUSE ME?! June 11 was a Saturday, and I was free to go. I’ve always wanted to be in a video, and the icing on the cake is that is was a Jamla video. I actually built up the nerve to approach Khrysis and Sundown that day. TP walked up to me, and said, “Hi, I’m TP.” I couldn’t help but giggle and say, “I know!” Some of my Twitter friends showed up, too: sdionne82, latriley, ucme2, TeamRapsody, DJJamOn, and TToTheING. That was THE hottest day in June. Nobody knew what the video was for until the day of. It ended up being the title track, “Natural,” (which is my favorite) and “F*ckin with Who.” On Monday, June 13, Kenneth Price was done editing. WHAT?! You can catch me around the 2:35 and 3:00 marks in this video…the last shot of me is the DOPEST! http://vimeo.com/25007661
- June 20, 2011: average_jae and I were talking and wondering when the next round of Jamla Army ambassadors would be chosen. Both of us had applied and wanted BADLY to be down. No sooner than we hung up with each other, my cell phone started blowing up with text messages. I was like, “What is going on?” I picked up my phone and saw texts from Jamla Records. (I get their tweets sent to my phone.) My heart started racing because they were notifying everyone of the new ambassadors. I saw that DJJamOn had been selected as well as average_jae! So, I was happy for them, but I was so nervous about whether or not my name would pop up. And then, I saw, “JamlaRecords: CONGRATULATIONS to @onyx127, an official #JamlaArmy Ambassador! @9thWonderMusic & @JamlaRecords salute you for your dedication. Welcome!” My legs were weak. I screamed. Tears jumped out my eyes. I love Jamla.
- June 23, 2011: On Tuesday, June 21, Rapsody released “Thank H.E.R. Now,” and her mixtape release party was Thursday. Well, I couldn’t miss my favorite b-girl’s party, so none_other, average_jae, my uncle, and I rolled down 85 S to celebrate with the Jamla fam. It was another showcase. Everyone was there except HaLo and Tyler Woods, but the show was still great! (Watch Rapsody & Big Remo perform “Cipher Kid: http://youtu.be/t4Dq2MDkpDw)
- August 12, 2011: The A Tribe Called Quest documentary was showing in Raleigh. Plus, 95 Live was that night. none_other and I caught the 9:00 show. Needless to say, it was amazing! The newest members of the Universal Zulu Nation had been announced days before, and they were celebrating. My Jamla Army brother, Talented_Tenth, was in town, so it was good to meet him. I finally met acedizzyflow even though I heard I was standing beside him at Rapsody’s party. Ain’t no party like a True School party. $5. That good R&B and hip-hop that I grew up on. Can’t beat it! At the end of the night, sdionne82 introduced me to Cesar Comanche. YES!
Okay, that’s my 15 months in review. (I’m exhausted.) Never did I imagine that I would experience so much in a year. Hip-Hop has brought me many joys–listening to lots of good, free music; attending excellent shows; meeting very humble & down-to-earth artists; and meeting other hip-hop heads/Jamla junkies who have embraced me and made me feel like family. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Hip-Hop, you da love of my life!