Sitting backstage before what you’re anticipating to be a career-defining set can grow very frustrating. Last night, the atmosphere was tense among The Fam in the green room at the Bowery. Due to the storms on the east coast, EJ’s layover flight from Atlanta to Newark was delayed for hours, and I had to pick him up from the airport just minutes before we were supposed to be at the club. That left no time for a group rehearsal, which we were counting on as this performance was unlike any other we’d attempted before. We were running the whole show off DVD, with video supplementing the songs we were doing. Timid and I spent weeks working on music videos, skits, graphics, slideshows, and more that we integrated into the performance. It was an idea I had ever since I heard we had that particular venue booked for the album release party: I always wanted to take advantage of the fact that they had a projection screen on the stage. That was the extra touch that was going to upgrade the event from a show to a concert. Of course, such an undertaking is no joke. This past month saw many sleepless nights. When you put that much effort into something, you want the results to be perfect. With EJ never having seen the videos for the show (and being instructed not to turn and look at the screen while performing), it was going to be difficult to pull off. As it turned out, that would be the least of our problems.
Though many Hip Hop shows take place during the week in New York City, any time you do an event on a Tuesday night, you run the risk of losing the crowd if you go too late. We were working with a promoter (shout out to Ace of Spades) who took care of booking the opening acts. Our understanding was that there would be 3-4 openers who would each do two songs, and then we’d close the night. That seemed reasonable to us. For some reason, it didn’t go down like that. Although everyone did his or her thing, we were worrying that all the extra performers who were put on before us would leave us with an empty club. With a set as incredible as the one we had prepared, and with this supposed to be “our” night and all, we felt we should have been performing to the packed house that was there from the beginning. Then, they started playing videos. It wasn’t anything like what we were doing — there was a random music video and what sounded like a mini-documentary — but we still felt using the screen before our set detracted from the novelty of our concept and shouldn’t have been allowed. This was the kind of conversation that went on backstage as we were waiting impatiently for our big moment. Some of our people were texting us saying they had to leave, including the singer Leah Delgado who was supposed to join me on stage for “Four Letters.” We were already starting to plan another event for the set, and discussing whether it was still worth it to do last night. Timid correctly asserted that as long as there was still one person out there, we had to give that one person a show.
Thankfully, there was more than one person out there. That anticipatory stress was relieved after our video introduction from Willie Spade played, and we set it off with “Get Off My Ass” featuring a revamped version of the Vlad TV clip with each of us emerging from the back separately to drop his verse. When the smoke cleared, the three of us were on stage and looking at a crowd of devoted heads who stayed to the end to see The Fam tear it down. That’s the moment when you smile and say to yourself, “Somehow, this was all worth it.”
That brings me to the $75,000.
I’m the type of person who hates to put himself in a box, and I feel like I have a lot to offer the world. Once I saw how much I was able to inspire people with my songs, I began thinking of other ways I could contribute. I started getting involved with charity work and political functions. I scored in the top 15% of everyone who took the LSAT, and ended up with a $75,000 scholarship for law school. Obviously, that was something I had to give serious consideration to. If I accepted it, it would keep me locked down in New York for a while and would interfere with my music career. It would prevent me from getting a new place out of state, and I wouldn’t be able to travel as freely as I do now. I’m living my dream. This is what I always wanted to do. So despite the fact that I teased last night could be my last show, I ripped the scholarship up on stage and declared that my dreams were not for sale, which we used as a lead in for “Inferno.”
My man is pushing thirty-three, on his third degree
He’s staying home, repaying loans eternally
No stash is kept — he cash his check, then he go burn some weed
For those wondering why I did that, understand that I’m an entertainer — which in itself was the statement I was making. I do have respect for the legal profession, and do not categorically oppose the idea of furthering one’s education. I still might do it in the future, but the circumstances have to be right. In all honesty, the school that offered me the scholarship deserved to have their shit ripped up. They have been nothing but deceptive and underhanded in their dealings with me, and I even had to file a complaint with my credit card company to get money back from them that they tried to take from me. I also just released what I genuinely feel will be regarded as the best Hip Hop album of 2009, and pending an absolutely undeniable offer, feel like pushing Family Business should be my focus right now. Besides, I’m a competitive person and believe I should be scoring in the top 5% anyway.
To all of you who stayed up late on a Tuesday night to see an unforgettable performance that rappers will indubitably try to copy now, you’re the reason I do what I do. It was an honor to perform with the legendary Mikey D in the building. Big up to Timid, EJ, my man Scrappz, Cee Rock “The Fury,” Conscious, Homeboy Sandman (who’s also had a brush with law school), Music Mystro, the whole crew at the Bowery, and everyone else who was a part of the festivities. We shook hands with everyone who stayed and personally hooked them up with copies of the album. Then I had to take EJ immediately back to the airport to catch an early morning flight, and begin the winding down process. These things never go exactly as planned, and sometimes the deck seems especially stacked against you: our photographer even cancelled on us an hour before the show. But you can’t sweat the small stuff. The video set worked out great, and everyone there had a fun time. Looking back, I’m grateful to be in the position to headline a concert for a crowd of people interested enough to make sure they were part of the experience. And I’m always proud to call myself an MC.
If you don’t have Family Business yet, get it.