Wednesday, June 22, 2011
St. Andrew's and beyond
Once long ago, there was a proud hip hop scene that existed in Detroit. I was kind of a late bloomer, as I didn't appear on the scene until 94-95. I just didn't think it was other people in my city listening to Wu-Tang, A Tribe Called Quest, and Souls of Mischief like I was. When I discovered there were SEVERAL others listening to the same thing, I was amazed. My hopes of a growing hip hop scene grew exponentially. That's why I used to catch the bus to the Hip Hop Shop on 7 Mile. Five Elements (later 5ELA) worked there... all three members: Mudd, Thyme, and Proof (RIP). DJ Head would be in the store spinnin' tunes and I was just in awe. Soon after I discovered "The Shop", my good friend Julia took me to a record store called Street Corner Music and introduced me to some guy she referred to as "White Mike". He seemed okay, rather quiet. Well later that night, Julia took me down to some club I'd never heard of... St. Andrew's. To my surprise, "White Mike", aka DJ Houseshoes was spinnin'... and this fool actually had on his houseshoes when he spun! He played all kinds of incredible joints, including the one that made me lose my mind... Audio Two "Top Billin". This was June 1995. I would go to that club damn near every Friday for a few years and ended up having some of the best times of my life. 'Shoes, DJ Q, DJ Head, Jewelz, Slym Fas, Head, Tony Tone, Dez, O Love... so many different DJ's... there's a few more I can't remember right now... but they all played records that sent the crowd in a frenzy. Jay Dee (RIP) would walk in and hand a "white label" to Shoes and all of a sudden you see about 30 dudes with locks simultaneously shakin' locks in a frenzy while the rest of the club would look befuddled... then all of a sudden, we're shakin' our heads, too. Those Friday nites, I'd be freestylin' with Bugz (RIP), Freak, Beej, eLZhi, Britus, etc... watchin Cool E spit various Rakim verses, losin' my mind with Wingo and Mo when we'd hear "Proceed No. 5" or "Soul on Ice", watchin Quest Love do the "Cabbage Patch", seeing Pete Rock go crazy when DJ Q spun "Fantastic"... so many memories of that place. Yeah, I know.... things change. We move on. We get older. But that place had so many good times. In fact, it probably kept me out of trouble. It felt like a safe haven. A rehabilitation center. A place to vent. A place to live, laugh, build, love, and vibe. In fact, that's how the whole scene felt to me, no matter where we were. Even if it was a cipher on the corner. What happened to that love? See back then, people went to shows. And they didn't just go because you were opening up for a big name from out-of-town. They came because if they didn't, s'thing felt wrong with the air they breathed. They HAD to have it because they loved it. Some graduated from the scene to do things that none of us have ever imagined. Did they forget about us? I'm not sure. They weren't obligated to come "rescue us". After all, they had their own lives, careers, vices, addictions, or whatever the case may have been. Every now and then, I'd wonder if some of the cats that made it past St. Andrew's ever cared about building the scene or just themself. As I get older, I grew to care less. Like I said before, they weren't obligated. Unfortunately, this goes well past St. Andrew's or any other club around the way... regardless if you live in Detroit or London. I know it will never be another era like that again. But for my city, I'm hoping that this Royce and Eminem album opens some eyes and brings about change. Not necessarily because the album is dope (I haven't heard it), but because these two guys are recording with each other again. That goes way beyond screaming Detroit in an interview or doing ad's with a car company. I'm hoping that record brings about unity, education, healing, and understanding. As of now, those things don't exist in my city. I'm not putting the blame on any individual or group. I'm just hoping Royce and Em realize the power they have to evoke change... change that can help our community, city, and culture grow. Hope to see y'all cats soon. Much respect from a fellow Hip Hop Shop and St. Andrew's alum. Peace and prosperity.