Friday, March 11, 2016

Puzzled Past, Black Future - From the Nerd Table

I have spent a lot of time over the last 5 years trying to understand what exactly happened at that first show I went to. I think it was Jabee, Chris McCain, Beetyman, and DJ Chips at the Blue Note when I was just past old enough to get in. I can't say that's the first show I was at, but I remember how I felt

"Lucky me." Like there was still something or someone out there who could "teach me how to fly."

And I'll be honest, it wasn't JUST the music that hooked me. At the time, I wasn't passionate about rap. Was it the energy? Was it being a witness to their friendship? Was it the LIVE show?

I saw Kashlee Banks again. We had been hanging out in poet circles for a year or so. I was addicted to her laugh and her openness. She has always giving away as much as she could spare, sometimes more. 

I met McFressh and she looked like, sounded like, wore her hair like, had glasses like someone I needed to be friends with. She had to be someone amazing if she had a rap name and wasn't a rapper, per se. I met Studda, all that passion and intelligence and anger at war within him. I'm sure DezzGotSteeze was there. If not at that show than at another just like it, looking fashion forward and interested in culture above everything. My first memory of Frank Black was in that venue playing pool with Beetyman. 

That had to have been February 2011. 

Then there was my first Norman Music Festival, the year Ashley T Madison The Great became an angel in heaven instead of on earth. 

I guess that's when I met LTZ. He was always around Fressh and Kashlee, before Athena. 

Before Worm was old enough to get into those bars. 
Before my artist, Frank Ready III, had a family, so he could come play pool at the Blue Note after work. We ran into each other accidentally at one of those shows. 

It would still be a while before I was introduced to the awe and wonder of Duo the Sick or Ronnie Harris or J Poe.

Chris McCain asked me when I fell in love with hip hop. I think I told him it was when I watched Lupe Fiasco perform "Kick Push" on the CW's One Tree Hill. I've always had a thing about intersectionality. If Peyton Sawyer, cheerleader and emo Rock goddess of North Carolina, could book Lupe Fiasco for her teen venue, then hip hop could love me too. It could keep my black card from burning a hole in my wallet. It could be home.

But I'm starting to think that TV introduced me, but the beat first kissed my soul in some dark bar in Oklahoma City. 

A lot has happened in five years. 

Jabee wrote a line for Ann Michele King. She lived too far away and was too close to Heaven's gates to appreciate it, but she would have loved it if she could have. He proved that some artists have "a little decency, a little substance."
Jeffery and I drove to Houston to sleep on Kelton's couch and pray over AMK's last year on earth. 
I came home and went to a show.

In 2012, I started performing again. Maybe they gave me the gumption. Jabee let me perform before his set at Norman Music Festival. I was a stringer for, writing articles about the shows. 

Ann Michele went to dance in marvelous light. I graduated with my bachelor's degree and I scheduled a solo poetry show. 

Nymasis came to my show with our mutual friend Jesse Red Eagle. At the time, I may have never heard him rap. I had heard that he was a legend and I was honored that he would come hear me spit. Thanks Jesse.  

I had an amazing first date with a guy I fell in love with (and got my heart broken by) the release night of Slow Narrations of LTZ. 

Over 2012 and 2013, I started getting more and more opportunities to perform. Dean Ronnie Harris opened his School of Thought. There I heard J Poe and Nymasis and Dewey Bins and Tyler Reid. 

OP Lounge opened in 2014. I got closer to LTZ and "met" Worm and Jabee stayed steady. I self-published my book, The Risk to Bloom. Jabee won an Emmy and bought and promoted my book at his Emmy celebration in OKC. 

I fell off going to shows during the 2014-2015 school year. 

I got back on around the same time they started having rap shows at the Hubbly Bubbly Hookah Lounge.

My poetic endeavors had taken me to Tulsa where I met a DJ who was based there at the time. When that DJ, Josh Sallee and Jabee were all scheduled to showcase their skills at the Center of the Universe Festival, I invested in a ticket.

Then this happened: 

I've never been more excited about anything!  

I rang in my 2016 new year at a rap show (shoutout Nymasis and Beetyman) with a rapper on my hip. 

Ronnie Harris took Black Future promo photos of Jabee and I in January. 

Seeing the reunion show flyer a few weeks back, and seeing the photos Ronnie posted yesterday makes me "feel some type of way." But I don't really know what way. Is it fandom? Is it inspiration? Is it jealousy? I have no clue. 

I don't see my past experiences with 20/20 vision, but I know my future wouldn't look the same if I'd never seen these Oklahoma City artists on some stage five years ago. 

The Puzzle People are having a reunion show Saturday, March 12. 

I wish I could be there, because I've always been inspired by their energy and creativity. I owe them much gratitude for a few big stages, a few Instagram pics with heart eyes, a bunch of laughs and long conversations - thanks TeaZee, and my first opportunity to executive produce. But I've only ever seen one of them in the crowd at one of my shows - thanks Nym - so I won't postpone my Spring Break trip with my family to be just another face in the crowd. 

I struggled with that decision all day. So if you're in town, be in the crowd for me, okay? Take some pics and post them. I can't sit at "The Cool Table" but you should go to the show.