Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Night To Remember With ?uestlove

At this very same hour, one week ago, I was looking through my closet trying to decipher between the dashiki and my checkered print green and white shirt. It’s a little too chilly for the dashiki I thought to myself. I didn’t bother to call Brother Lightness before I left my apartment because I knew that the magnitude of the event we were attending, didn’t necessitate coordination. He’s gonna be there on time I thought to myself.

A few subway stops later, I found myself standing in front of Canal Room. The bouncer, who had a West-Indian accent, quite rudely told me that I had to come back in 30 minutes. Come back I did not. I watched as the line, which I headed, began to wrap around Canal Street. You could smell the aroma of juices and berries in the air. The sistahs came natural. More locks than Master and more vegans than a PETA rally.

Once inside, I found myself looking everywhere for ?uestlove. Brother Lightness arrived after a few minutes and in a true display of brotherhood we exchanged a pound. Brother Brolicness arrived shortly thereafter and we exchanged the same elaborate and masterful dap with which we have greeted one another for the past 4 years or so. (Quite a sight to see, if I may say so myself).

All of a sudden heads turned and fingers pointed. The opening DJ was playing some funk track but I’ve romanticized the experience so much so that I only remember hearing Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana – O Fortuna upon first bearing witness to the man known as ?uestlove. There he stood, beard unkempt and fro unyielding. His appearance said “I’m out of place” and yet his mastery of the turntables said, “hip-hop, you the love of my life.” And you could tell she loved him right back.

?uestlove opened with Kingdom Come, the new Hov track produced by Just Blaze. I had heard the track before, but ?uestlove kept playing a the first four bars and then bringin’ it back. It was as though he was trying to get us to appreciate the production of Just Blaze. I spent my Sunday afternoon playing that track and trying to see whether I could cop the instrumental for my own freestylin’ purposes.

After Hov’s joint, ?uestlove played about four more mainstream top-10 hip-hop tracks. The rest of the show was like Fabolous’ wardrobe, straight throwbacks. A Tribe called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, Rakim, KRS-One, vintage Nas and Hov. It was beautiful. I’d say a good 80% of the ?uestlove’s records were vintage while the rest of them where more mainstream.

I found myself reciting lyrics that I was surprised I could remember. I’d look to my left and my right and there were people of all hues and hair-dos that were reciting right along with me. Hip-hop is unifying like that.

As the evening threatened to turn to day the numbers dwindled, but ?uest kept on. The dance floor began to clear out and the spilled drinks made it possible to really get my Omarion on…err, I mean James Brown.

After ?uestlove played his last track, those of us who remained gave him a round of applause. When he was by himself, I approached him and managed to say not a word of what I'd rehearsed a second earlier. All that came out my mouth was, “Great set tonight, brother. Here’s my card, please check out our blog. Me and my brothers got A LOT of respect for what you do…” It wasn't like I was star struck or anything. It was just that before me stood a man who contributed to the music that I listen to religiously. Music that gives me hope and that accompanied me on many a sleepless night of labouring.

He looked at my card and then at me and replied, “Thanks, brother.” He gave me a dap and I proceeded to bounce. A fitting end to an exceptional evening of music appreciation.

1 comment:

qwerty said...

I finally browsed my copy of the Village Voice the day after the event, saw the ad and could only think: damn!

Next time, I s'pose.