The other night was truly beautiful. So beautiful its been difficult to even speak on. I am so grateful for everyone who showed up and rocked with us! Your energy was magnetic and validating. I love what I do as a performer and educator and there is something very very special about conducting energy through music, lyrics, and song among an audience of people open to experiencing the wave of how it all rolls out! Oh, and there was quite the journey this night. Plenty to celebrate, learn from, and reflect on, here.
Things I’ve learned:
1) We are growing! We Can Pack a Nicely Sized Concert at a Premiere Venue!
We sold 100 presale tickets. Thats pretty amazing for a “local” act. I had pockets of friends bring out their co workers in mobs, their family members in packs, some groups rolled as deep as fifteen people! There is this sick churning in your stomach before a show starts when your not sure if people are actually going to come. That feeling was slimmed down when doors opened and 100 to 150 people rolled through within twenty minutes. By the time I reached the stage the bleachers were packed and the floor was full with over 300 people! More importantly so many people brought out new people to our party, people who knew nothing about me. Other’s even came because of the New Times Article that was written about my work. So many of these new people spoke with me and shared their positive experience online. Thanks for helping us grow!
2) Sound is a Bit CRUCIAL, but We Roll with the Punches and Swing Back Nicely.
We spent two hours sound checking. We had two bands with two separate sets of instruments and needs. When it came time for me to get up on stage a very unfortunate and some what comical anomaly occurred, the sound board rebooted. What? Yep! You heard right all those two hours of sound checking between backlines, monitors, drum mics, all those sound levels that were checked, were set back to zero. ZERO! Which means our one man sound crew had the extremely intense task of dialing everything in on the fly, which he actually did quite well. If I were a bit more experienced with how sound works for a band, I would have been able to help him a little more. Just being real. Next time I will be able to help him dial on the covert—so the audience doesn’t notice, “tip.”
Regardless, instead of getting nervous, or anxious, or over reacting to the situation and the Soundguy’s near melt down, I remained calm when he ran up to me on stage to explain our predicament. I calmed him down and said “its cool man, its alright man, everything will work out. It’s not your fault” So while he went back to the mighty sound board, DJ Panic and myself did our thing! (#audible) We kicked a song or two that were planned for later in the set (sound was set up for the DJ thank god) and then some one yelled “do a poem,” to which I responded with one or two. While I was performing my poem DJ Panic passed around a piece of paper for the audience to write random words on and then had them hand it back to him. From their the random-word freestyle session arose. Yes, I freestyled phrases and matched them to random words like “Sex” and “Snosssberies” which had the audience halfway in hilarity and fully gripped into the rhythm of our live hip hop act. Next, I turned DJ Panic loose and allowed him to spin and we started an impromptu dance party! I called the Five Foota Thrillas to the stage and they rocked the crowd! It was by far one of the hypest moments of the entire night.
The irony here is that one of our main reasons for booking Crescent was due to their reputation of having great live sound (which is really almost always the case) minus this one exception. The vast majority of the audience believed Panic and my own improvisational collaboration was part of the set! Perfect! In some regards they are right, we had a few things up our sleeves! Regardless it made the night what the night needed to be and lost us zero ground in terms of intensity! I’m not one of those people who invests in super strong expectations, especially when it comes to things that are outside of my immediate control (sound?). Of course you expect the sound to go right, but you know…you gotta expect the unexpected, right? Make the most of what presents itself to you in the moment, it’s what you have, the moment, right? And in that moment Panic and I had one and other and the accompaniment of this beautiful audience of music loving, ticket paid for, vibe setting individuals!
3) Rocking with a Band is Great!
This is the first time i’ve officially rocked a full set with a team of musicians and it was so absolutely memorable. We only had the opportunity to rehearse together twice. TWICE! Vaugh Swif Willis and Ear Candy did an amazing job of learning my songs, especially those songs of mine that are complicated. We did an epic rendition of The Funky Autopsy with live horns, which featured an all out breakdown session where the band just took the song to the rafters instrumentally. Not to mention Dj Panic scratched with some bonafide precision on the ones in two’s throughout. Pure funknesss make your face screw up LoL! It was so much fun. To The Rescue was a hit and incredibly engaging to do live.
I learned so much about music, about how a band communicates and fosters performance, groove, and sound. I am so grateful for Venessa Mendez hosting our rehearsals and all the things her and Vaughn and the rest of the gang taught me about working with live instruments. It was a first, but certainly not a last. It was seriously a blast! It was like James Brown’s spirit came down and blew some dust off my shoulder, somethin’ mad spiritual opened up inside of me while we all rocked as one cohesive sound. I can’t say if my next big show will be with a band but I know there is more of this music in my future and I am humbled and so incredibly grateful for the experience.
4. People Want More
So many posts on the internet, so many comments, so many words of encouragement flooded the airways after our performance that night. All of them saying keep going, we need you, yes, more…more. Love that your about something real. Love what you say about Arizona. Love how you speak to us.
Really, more than any particular moment on stage comments like these are our main measure of success. Peoples earnest reactions and expressions gratitude speak more to us in the realm of success than ticket sales or media exposure. Are people feelin’ us? Is all this sacrifice, all this love answered? Where does all this back breaking, knuckle bleeding effort go? What eardrums welcome it home? And people continue to cry back in response: With us. With my cousin and I, he just saw you for the first time! With us. Over here we got you…we got you.
For years i’ve been reluctant to self promote and to endorse my work. Part of this was being shy and unsure, but most of it came from a underlying feeling that questioned my own value as an artist. I’ve been doing hip hop publicly for barely over a year now and last thursday night broadcasted what has come from this years effort and reinforced why I am here offering these words to the world. I can’t afford to be shy anymore. I have to much to give, to many peoples stories inside the waxing of my consciousness. I’m ready to go.
So here is more of what we’ve done for you to give and vibe with. This music video, is more than just a music video, it’s an extremely vivid and lyrical portrait of our times and our homelands. Every time you share this video you are giving it a greater lifespan in the world of music and art. Share it!
Thank you all sincerely.