Back from the road: Morgan State, DC, and Nat’l Harbor

It’s Wednesday already?  Damn.  Well, the reason this recap is overdue is because I’ve quite honestly been tired as shit.  I’ve been home since early Sunday and I’m just now feeling caught up — on both my sleep, and the work I’ve missed since being away.  We do have a video blog of the trip coming up, but that doesn’t preclude the obligatory Pizon write-up.  So, let’s get to it…

Thursday, October 2

As reported on the site last week, Timid and I were scheduled to make an appearance at Morgan State University in Baltimore on Thursday.  First I heard it was going to be an Obama rally, then I found out it was a non-partisan event designed to get people to register to vote.  As far as I’m concerned, they’re one in the same — especially at colleges, and even more so at HBCUs like Morgan State.  It’s a safe assumption that the more people who register to vote, the better Obama will fare in the election.  That afforded us the opportunity to support our candidate without shoving a specific political agenda down anyone’s throat.  Our stated mission was therefore just “Register and vote.”  We didn’t even have to say who for.  Not everyone at the rally took that approach, as you’ll read in a minute.

Since the rally started at 10 AM and we wanted to get there early, we left New York at about 4:30 in the morning.  I worked through the night on Tuesday, so I had been up since late Wednesday afternoon.  It didn’t make sense to try to sleep again before the trip.  To put it in normal people terms, it was dinner time on my internal clock when we left.  It would be about bed time when we got there.  Thank God for Red Bull.  We did make good time — facilitated by my energy drink boost and lack of traffic in the middle of the night — and pulled into Morgan State with an hour to spare.  The guy who arranged for us to make the appearance wasn’t even there yet.  He was a student at the school named KB who had originally seen myself and Timid performing on a TV show in Maryland, and reached out for this event.  I later found out that he even listened to my local radio show in the DC area, so this dude was a fan.  It was mad cold outside when we started wandering around campus trying to figure out where to go.  We had heard (and hoped) the rally would be indoors, but those dreams were crushed when we saw people building a stage outside.  I put my hood up and waited patiently, when this kid approached me and said, “You’re Pizon, right?”  That’s right.  Even with the hood up, I was recognized.  Next time I’m in the airport, I might have to wear a mask.  Of course, it was KB.  He stayed with us and acted as our tour guide on campus as the rally finally got underway.

Now, the rally itself wasn’t in support of any particular politician, but instead there were representatives from every principal political party present trying to convince students to vote for their candidate.  Every party, that is, except for the Republicans.  Morgan State was actually the university where John McCain infamously no-showed the debate last year, so nobody from his camp agreed to appear.  As a result, the vibe was overwhelmingly pro-Obama with politely ignored Independent and Green Party support added to the mix.  We waited behind the stage until it was our time to rock, and we did our thing as the only pure rappers on the bill among speakers, singers, and spoken word artists.  After our rendition of “Let Freedom Ring” which had the students screaming back the chorus with great defiance at the current administration, I told the crowd that I wanted to say a few words about the importance of voting.

My speech was in rebuttal to the sentiment that citizens of non-swing states such as Maryland do not have to vote because one side is already expected to win.  While Maryland as an example may already be a “blue” state, it will turn red if enough people have the attitude that their vote doesn’t matter.  Those polls that project a winner in a particular state are based on the assumption that people will actually vote for whom they support on Election Day.  The other side is banking on complacency, and enough negligence will make any purported blue state bleed.  I also brought up the election of 2000, where one candidate won the popular vote and the other (was awarded) the electoral college.  Regardless of whom you support, we do not want a repeat of that disaster and we want to ensure that the next president, unlike the current one, is serving under the will of the American people.  On that front, it doesn’t matter if you live in Maryland or Mississippi:  let’s get to the polls in record numbers this year and make sure our candidate wins the popular vote by an unprecedented margin.  That line got a very good response.  Timid later pointed out that politicans look at which demographics are voting and they tend to cater to those groups upon being elected.  So if college students don’t vote, why bother supporting legislation that will benefit them?  That’s also a good point.

It was a strong turnout, and I’m happy to say that hundreds of people were registered to vote that day.

Towards the end of the rally, while other guests were speaking, Timid said he wanted a drink and KB was nice enough to lead us to the student center and buy us some juice.  He asked if we wanted to shoot some pool (they had a nice billiard area with about a dozen clean pool tables), and Timid said, “I think we just want to sit.”  I was probably more ready to crash than he was at that point, because I’d been up longer and did all the driving, while he had slept both before we left and in the car.  Regardless, we chatted with KB for a while and filmed some footage for the video blog.  Before we left Morgan State, he wanted to hook us up with the local Hip Hop radio show for an interview.  It turned out to be a wild goose chase trying to find the host of the show on campus, who turned out to be… at the radio station.  What do they say about overlooking the obvious?  Once in the right building, we actually got locked in the stairwell for a while, which you should see on the video.  Finally, we reached our destination:  the Electric Relaxation show on WMUR Radio, hosted by none other than Anzea Hart.  We basically invaded her studio and demanded an interview on the spot.  Timid did most of the talking, as he was the one actually booked for the rally to begin with, but I chimed in when necessary.  A funny moment was when he spoke about the lack of Republican presence at the event and proclaimed that “John McCain does not care about black people.”  Once the audio is online, I’ll post it up.

By now, it was Thursday afternoon and there was a show in NYC that night whose promoter swore had spoken with our management the week before and worked something out.  This was news to us, but we were considering driving back to New York to do the show, then back again to Maryland and the DC area for our weekend engagements.  Unfortunately, things didn’t work out with the promoter.  Besides, we really wanted to watch the vice presidential debate.  After leaving Baltimore, we drove down to Alexandria, VA and checked into a hotel room.  I think Timid went out for food.  I lay down and told him to make sure I was up when the debate started.  After managing a few hours of sleep, the debate was on.  I’m not going to offer a long-winded analysis of the debate itself, but I will point out as others have how Palin was completely in over her head and resorted to basic talking points that often had nothing to do with the questions being asked.  Never before in American history has a candidate on a major ticket been so unfit to lead the country.  After Biden squashed her, a friend of mine called and asked if we wanted to stop by.  She only lived six blocks or so from our hotel so it was nothing.  Shortly after arriving, her husband came home with a pack of his rapper friends and their CD.  It was a trap!  They plugged in a boombox and forced us to listen to their music.  In all seriousness, they were good people and that is the kind of drive you need to succeed in this industry.  Some more well known rappers from New York are in town?  Make sure they hear you.  We all watched some of the Chris Rock special as they asked for some music business advice, which we were happy to give them.  Hours later, just about everyone in the apartment was crashed out, and we took that as our cue to go back to the hotel.

Friday, October 3

On Friday, Timid’s boy Taz from Japan (who produced “Learn to Unlearn” on the Family Affair mixtape, a song also recorded in Japan) was scheduled to arrive for an appearance at the Adidas store in DC that night.  He was supposed to be staying at the Red Roof in Oxon Hill, MD so we checked out of our VA hotel and checked into that one.  Still tired, I tried catching up on more sleep in the new hotel but wasn’t too successful.  It turned out that Taz was moved to a different hotel, so we ended up switching for nothing.  The DC event was to promote another event the following night at an art gallery in National Harbor, MD.  When we arrived at the Adidas store in DC, the organizer Shane Pomajambo started snapping pictures of us with Taz immediately.  We talked, and were offered a performance slot at the art gallery show the following night.  It was an urban art gallery, and Shane who was promoting both nights’ events was also from Queens so he was excited about doing business.  The Adidas store basically turned into a house party, with a DJ spinning Hip Hop and free vodka being served to me.  Nice!  Plenty of flyers for the following night’s art gallery show were given out.  After it was over, a group of us went to Unos for food, and we tried to convince the waitress and her girls to party with us after her shift.  Taz had just gotten to the States, so he was trying to party.  We ended up hitting up Adams Morgan, but it was after 3 AM and nothing was really open.  We got back to the hotel at 5 AM and had to check out by 11.  I ended up getting a couple hours’ sleep at best, and by 8:00 was up for good.

Saturday, October 4

Since I now had another performance scheduled for that night, I had to go shopping for an outfit.  We hit up Springfield Mall on Saturday morning, and I copped a few shirts from Macy’s.  For lunch, we met with someone else I hadn’t seen in a while at the diner by the mall.  Since we were essentially homeless at that point, we decided to chill at Taz’s hotel in National Harbor until the show.  If you’re asking what National Harbor is, you’re not alone.  I stayed in the DC area for a year and never heard of it.  It’s actually a whole new development by the Potomac River, on the Maryland side, that was all trees a few years ago.  It’s so new that my GPS couldn’t find it, and it was convinced I was driving off road when I was there.

It is a real nice spot on the water that’s still being built up, though.  Supposedly they’re in the process of building 22 bars, so you know the night life is going to be popping off there as soon as they open.  Right now, it’s mostly just hotels and shops.  One of the shops is the Art Whino art gallery, where that night’s event would take place.  The area is pretty upscale, and the $300/night hotel room was quite lavish.  Waterfront view.  Flat screen TV on the wall.  The most welcoming mattress you’ve ever felt.  That was all it took for me, and once again I was attempting sleep.  The artist that flew from Japan with Taz stayed in the room to continue painting his exhibit for the night’s show, while Timid and Taz went down to the gallery.  I woke up an hour or so later, and dude was still painting.  I went into the bathroom and changed into one of my new shirts, and was ready to perform.  Another good turnout was had at the art show, with many people coming through to look at the artwork and enjoy the music.  Unfortunately, we would learn that no mics were available, since our performance was booked so last minute.  The DJ had his setup and was spinning records, but that wouldn’t help us.  They tried to make some calls to get us some mics, but nothing was really panning out.  It was also getting late, and I had other obligations in New York so we decided to hit the road.  There were no hard feelings because we got to make our appearances at the two events and network with everyone, and you can bet we’ll be back in the future to do something official.  Plus, we got free drinks and had a good time.  It was also great finally meeting Taz, who has always been a big supporter from Japan.

After getting back to New York at 2 in the morning on Sunday, I actually had more people to meet up with.  I think I got home at about 7 AM.  From Wednesday until Sunday, I hadn’t gotten more than a few hours of sleep at a time.  It’s been an uphill battle since then, but I’m finally getting back into the swing of things.  Peace to Timid, KB, Zea, WMUR, all of Morgan State, Shane, Taz, and the other cast of characters I met along the way.  Video blog coming soon!


One Response to Back from the road: Morgan State, DC, and Nat’l Harbor

  1. Taz says:

    Glad you guys came down. It was good to finally get to meet Pizon as well! Hopefully we can get you cats out to Japan someday.

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