February 12, 2000
Hip Hop and Black Arts: Day 2
D and Universal
Poetics. Sponsored by Albany State University Black Alliance
See also: DAY
ONE featuring Sonia Sanchez and Saul Williams.
How do you follow Chuck D?
I still don't know for sure, but apparently we did it tonite. Pictures don't lie, right? First Matt and me, then Justyn. Good God.
What was the big deal? He was so down to earth. Just hanging. Introduced himself to us before the event. Shaking hands. Smiling. Cool. Just another kid at the conference, right? Except this kid changed the face of hip hop. This kid's poster has been hanging on the wall of my bedroom for almost ten years. Pioneer. Vanguard. Artist. Hero. (To most!)
We set up just as Chuck and the crew finished an intense panel discussion on the state of hip hop and Black America. Mad fast turnover. I drag up the amp, I find an outlet, I pull out the guitar. I assume Chuck is on his way out as I'm plugging in, but out of the corner of my eye I catch him taking a seat. Sitting down. Right up front. He's not going anywhere. He's hanging. He's watching. Listening. Matt sees him, but he's cool with it. I feel rushed, and I can't hear the mic, so I'm a ball of nerves. I still have knots in my stomach about it as I write this.
But maybe you get to a point where you're so nervous ya just don't care. Matt was calm. Zone. Which grounded me. We kicked just two tunes: Cycle and Six. And we were out.
Then Justyn took the stage with Mojavi's Universal Poetics posse. Added some new lines to the old fave 'Broken Words' - lines he'd written in the car on the way to the show. Cool. Was he better off for not knowing that Chuck was right up front? Watching? Listening? Would it have been just another nite for him had he known?
On our way out, I notice Chuck sitting at a table right at the doors of the campus center. Fixing to eat. I don't even want to make eye contact, don't even want to acknowledge I exist. But Matt can't resist. He stops to tell him how he wore out his tape of "Fear" when he was in middle school. Chuck tells us he liked what he heard, that we had it going on. Told us about his web site and web radio station bringthenoise.com. Gave us his card. I shook his hand, thanked him for coming to Albany, and we were gone.
It was all good either way. We came. We saw. We trembled. We kicked it anyway.
Continued props to ASUBA
(Albany State University Black Alliance) for making this all