No Balls, No Glory; A Polaroid Story

3 Plug Polaroid

Posted in DE LA SOUL, Polaroids by Ouni on September 17, 2011

Knokke, 14/08/2011

I’m so happy and very proud of these amazing Polaroid shots of none other than DE LA SOUL.

As always a quick introduction for the folks who might not be familiar with this epic group.

It’s never too late to get acquainted right?

On the far left you can see Vincent Mason aka Plug Three or Maseo; in the middle, Kelvin Mercer aka Posdnuos or Plug One and last but not least David Jude Jolicoeur aka Plug Two, Trugoy or Dave.  The ‘Plug’ nicknames allegedly referred to numbers that each bandmate’s microphone was labeled on the soundboard.

These three individuals together are globally known as DE LA SOUL, a Grammy Award winning hip hop group that came together in 1987 in Long Island, New York and paved the way for many alternative rappers to come untill this day and are also known for being one of the originators of jazz rap.

They were also part of a collective called NATIVE TONGUE POSSE, together with A Tribe Called Quest, the Jungle Brothers, Black Sheep, Moni Love & Queen Latifah. 

De La Soul’s message through their music has always been peaceful, socially conscious and lyrically quirky accompanied by eclectic sampling.

I was only a toddler when this group came out and changed the state of hip hop at that time and I kind of grew up with their music over the years.

Like Madonna or Prince they are one of those musical artefacts that you’ve always known but never actually met in your life. Their music always played on the background on different types of radio channels, on different types of parties or other probably very happy moments in your life.

You can’t really recall the day that you first heard their music because like a lullaby it’s just that type of music you’ve known from very the start.

These are only a few classics that probably everybody knows growing up over the years.

Buddy with the Native Tongue Posse

Me, Myself & I (definitely check out this old-school live version on Arsenio Hall)

‘A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturday’(with fellow Native Tongues  member Q-TIP)

Ring Ring Ring

and one of my favorites, Breakadawn.

The classic dance floor killer from 2000 with CHAKA KHAN

‘Ooh’  with REDMAN

And the Grammy Award-winning GORILLAZ anthem Feel Good Inc

Since their debut in 1987,  De La Soul has 6 albums written to their name and still tour and travel the world with their music.

Now.

This is the story.

If you read this blog with the same loyalty a christian has to the pope, you would know that this story actually started chronically with the story about JAMIE WOON in Paris. I suggest you catch up on the story here if you haven’t done  your homework.

So after wrapping up the Polaroid part of the story with Jamie, I spend the rest of the day hanging out at the “DIESEL ONLY THE BRAVE BLOCK PARTY” and waiting for a good moment to make a move for a DE LA SOUL Polaroid.

It was pretty cool to see what a big crowd came out for De La Soul that day, and witnessing the enthusiasm and interaction this group still pulls out of a massive audience is simply very heartwarming. It’s a good feeling that in these days of fast and easy on the ear music, young people still know what’s good from back in the day and come and show their love and respect.

It was a grey skied day but that didn’t stop the crowd from showing up. Umbrella and all.

Exhibits:

Some quick shots from the De La Soul performance

Exhibits:

You probably saw this one coming, but I can’t help it. I love men in Timbs. I’m old-school like that.

Exhibit:

Kinda cool seeing The Cobra Snake in the flesh.

Exhibit:

After the concert I went immediately back to the DIESEL artist compound because I knew there was a photo shoot scheduled for a French magazine with De La Soul right after the performance.

I knew that, because I helped out the photographer with his light settings and also with calming his nerves a little because the man was living every photographer’s nightmare that day with his photo gear not working as they should  and very bad light circumstances due to the grey weather.

But by the time De La Soul arrived at the scene the man got his stuff together and his De La Soul shoot went smooth like butter.

Exhibits:

The minute their shoot was done, I had to be quick. The atmosphere was very ‘professional’ meaning that there were a lot of people watching and waiting in line to have some sort of content from De La Soul and I didn’t have anything scheduled with a label or tour manager to request my Polaroid picture.

Both Lefto & Theophilus were reaching out for me, telling their entourage and  De La Soul that I was ‘legit’ and that they really should participate with my blog, but with everybody tapping on everybody elses shoulder, not much was happening really.

I pitched the blog to Posdnuos myself but he told me that If I wanted everybody together it might be hard and I had to ask the label representative.

I then quickly pitched my blog to a nice lady who decided that I could take 1 single Polaroid picture and that I had to do it…NOW.

Ok. That’s not how I saw things, I prefer 3 different Polaroids from 3 different individuals but hey, if these are your options, you take them with a smile.

It took me some time to get them all together and then to make them pose for my camera and when I finally was ready,  the minute I pushed the Polaroid button my little old camera got stuck. That never happened to me before with that one, but luckily I came prepared with two other cameras.

I had seconds to decide if I would take the camera I took the shots from Jamie Woon with, meaning that the Polaroids probably would turn out all weird coloured and psychedelic since the camera was provided with expired Polaroid film from 2004.

Òr I could use my black Polaroid film, the same film I tested out on my ODD FUTURE story and which had 1 single picture left in the camera. The only thing is…I promised myself not to use this black & white film for anybody else again untill the day I finally will meet Jay-Z. (That day will happen yes.)

So a bit reluctantly I picked out the camera with the B&W film, aimed my camera

and …. 3, 2, 1….flashing…lights….bingo!

Exhibit:

The issue with using that B&W Impossible film for this blog is that it’s very unreliable to shoot in these kind of circumstances where you have no control over light, temperature and location and things have to go asap!

What I feared for quickly came to life and I saw that my B&W polaroid was already fading away as we speak and resulted in a black and white spooky picture of 3 very vague individuals.

A nice Polaroid to have but not what I was aiming for…

I also knew that if this happened in more relaxed circumstances without scheduled interviews & journalists, I could obtain a better and more personal result.

The good thing about this part of the story is that after I took the pictures, Posdnuos came to me asking me to show the other artists I managed to take on Polaroid and we went through them all, one by one and I was very happy to feel that Posdnuos was really interested in my blog and impressed by the people I’ve already featured.

Exhibit:

I accepted the outcome of what I saw as Part I of this story and simply decided that I would try my chances another time and therefore wait with  posting the De La Soul story and not use the first black and white  Polaroid from that day.

Now. This is where part II of this De La Soul story begins….

Just a few weeks ago I received a phone call from one of my best friends telling me if I knew that De La Soul would perform in a brand new club located in the (second) most infamous city by the sea in Belgium that is called KNOKKE.

How surreal is thàt?

Let me tell you about Knokke.  It’s the complete opposite of the city in Belgium I live in, which is Ostend. The only thing these two cities have in common is the sea. That’s it basically. Knokke is Belgium’s own private glam city where the wealthy, the (kinda) famous and a few gold diggers all come together and have decadent parties dressed in the latest Louboutin heels popping bottles in their beach houses and/or boats.

I love me some Knokke from time to time, it’s like Disney World. It’s fun for a while but you don’t want to hang around for too long before going completely mental.

The crazy thing is that there are only a few clubs in Belgium that can afford to book major artists for 3-song club performances and they are mostly based in Antwerp or Brussels.

But praise the lord for the opening of this new club called VIP ROOM in Knokke. Yes, that is the same VIP ROOM you have in St-Tropez where every summer you can spot various famous folks from all sides of the entertainment world shaking their tail feather.

De La Soul was booked for a club performance at the sister version of the VIP ROOM in Knokke, and there was no question about it, me and my Polaroid camera would be present.

I simply love a classic club angle for A Polaroid Story. It’s a complete different way of working, the situation gets a bit less predictable, there is mostly alcohol involved, you can’t be distracted by the party people, and the light circumstances are a bit more challenging to shoot Polaroid pictures in.

Last time A Polaroid Story was located in a club I got kicked out so you understand that things don’t always go smoothly but definitely more intense at the club.  :-)

On a boring sunday me and Jules hopped in the car on our way to Knokke. We had absolutely no idea what to expect. I mean… a hip hop performance in that part of the country just felt a bit odd in a way, and we wondered who would even show up on this sunday, although the next day was a national holiday, we still had some doubts about this one.

When we arrived in Knokke, it turned out that our predictions were completely wrong. The entrance was completely crowded, and it was even a bit challenging to get in the club in the first place. Luckily my best friend managed to put me on the guest list, so we didn’t have to hustle our way in.

When we arrived in the club we quickly found out how this club worked. To party in this club in a lets say, comfortable way, you gotta have dough. If you are like me and Jules and don’t order by the bottle… (How can two normal women possibly finish a bottle of dark rum and still walk elegant out of the club instead of passing out in public?! )…the only thing you are entitled to is a spot on the dance floor. You can’t sit caus that is paid for. You can’t lean on a table, caus that is paid for aswell. You can’t put your drink on a table…caus..yeah..you get the picture.

I thought it was very funny in a way because the floor was empty when we arrived and we were standing there like 2 wall flowers in the middle of the club.

We positioned ourselves close to a corner of what one could describe as a mini fish tank or a little pedestal stage surrounded by glass that was closed off by a velvet rope that also allowed entrance to a little VIP area with sofas that were located right next to the glass private cage thing.

When not much later a delegation of club servants prepped the private glass area with Patron, tidbits and fried food we  knew that this was the spot the De La Soul crew would be hanging out and very possibly perform aswell.

Exhibit:

Not much later the DJ announced that De La Soul officially arrived in the club and the party could begin. For this blog that announcement means that it is time to work. While we were trying to stay focused between people getting ready to get all crunk in the club, VIP ROOM launched their first surprise of the night….(bikini) GIRLS.

Exhibits:

While the VIP ROOM girls where dancing, shaking & twerking I  spotted this fly lady with this cute necklace.

And then finally the DJ officially welcomed and announced the gentlemen from DE LA SOUL in the club. They came with quite a big entourage and were heading straight for the VIP area, ready for a party.

This is the official call for me and Jules to get focused on what we came for, which is not partying, but a second attempt for a Polaroid picture. I decided to approach Posdnuos the minute he passed me by on his way to the glass stage, and secretly prayed that he’d still remember me from the small talk we had in Paris only a few weeks ago.

So the minute he passed me by I gently tapped him on the shoulder and waved hello with a: “remember me? ” face.

Thank god Posdnuos immediately recognized me, gave me a hug and asked a very logic question: “What are you doing here?!!!”

I laughed and told him that I didn’t live very far from this town and that I actually came back hoping to get a better picture than the one I got from them in Paris. I asked him if he could  please consider that we could take the picture again, but this time on 3 Polaroids instead of one.

He told me he was down, but that he could not speak for Maseo or Dave but that he would look into it at the right moment and he continued his way to the VIP area.

The minute the whole DE LA SOUL crew gathered on the glass stage round two of the club’s entertainment program was launched…

Meaning: Attack of some giant fluorescent creatures who looked like the Disney version of ‘Aliens & Predators’ with christmas lights.  Personally I don’t see the fun in having giant customized carnival creatures shooting foam right in my face (yes that happened) while I’m sipping on a rum and coke and getting my groove on but hey…to each his own party trip I guess.

Exhibits:

Me and Jules were still standing next to the glass stage when I noticed Posdnuos taking a seat right next to me and pretty soon we had a relaxed little chit-chat amidst all craziness in these very weird circumstances.  It felt like I was talking to somebody in a correctional facility.

Meanwhile, the show must go on, and the VIP ROOM entertainment program reached round 3 of the evening, meaning another dozen of sexy little kittens jumping on stage to join the De La Soul crew who were more planning on chilling and enjoying some party snacks than being stage raided by a tsunami of pussy cat girls but hey. What can you do?

This explains the following exhibits:

Maseo has been to long in the game to still get distracted by these kind of circumstances. :-) #nevernotfocused

Meanwhile the liquor was flowing and the DJ was working the crowd, making them all hyped and wild.

All of sudden I get tapped on my shoulder and Posdnuos offers me a champagne glass with a substance that looked a bit too crystal clear for it to be champagne. I accepted the glass, sniffed it first and then Posdnuos said: “Yes, it’s Patron.”

Me and Patron? Not a good combination. Last time I sipped on Patron was mainly because the testosterone level in my body made me believe that I can handle that type of liquor but that is unfortunately far from the truth. I still have vague flashbacks of me hanging over an open window of a yellow cab driving over the Brooklyn Bridge in NY while the boy I crushed on that night was getting more and more embarrassed and also a little bit scared of me throwing up in a moving car over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Yeah…

Then again.  Refusing food or drinks in certain cultures is considered offensive and lack of etiquette so I politely accepted his offer and manned up. :-)

Exhibits:

The good thing about tequila is that it feels like a cold rush of blood to the head that instantly wakes you up and gives you energy. Something we could use since we were already in the club since 11h30PM and the clock was ticking 2h30 AM.

Don’t underestimate the challenge of being in a club for a complete other reason than partying. It can be very exhausting if you don’t drink and you can’t have a seat.

By that time the people who were drinking were having a blast and some very wealthy individual got sooo excited that he decided to buy a  champagne bottle so expensive he could firsthand feed 3 third world countries. Meaning. Ridiculously expensive.

This bottle was hanging in another glass box on the ceiling right above the glass stage were De La Soul were hanging out. The minute the bottle was sold, a dozen of waiters with firework sticks came to accompany the bottle to the lucky buyer. Interesting detail is that the glass box with the bottle electronically travelled across the ceiling via a dodgy railway that led the bottle straight to his owner.

Exhibit:

Even Posdnuos had his thoughts about this one…. :-)

Exhibit:

When the bottle finally arrived with its lawful owner, somebody opened the exclusive champagne bottle and poured it in the mouth of the owner, spilling champagne all over the man while a dozen other men were cheering him on like a professional rugby team who just won the Super Bowl.

Exhibit:

Then finally it was time for DE LA SOUL to perform. They did approximately 5 or 6 classic De La Soul songs and I was very surprised to see how they engage this little audience in Knokke in the exact same way they did with their audience in Paris. Taking pictures with the crowd, smiling, waving, shaking hands, posing for the dozen smartphones that were held in the sky non stop to record and document every little move they made in the club.

I’ve seen a few club performances by now and I always felt those type of gigs are fast money makers resulting in somewhat sloppy and quick performances. Not with these fellas. They might have been in a little town in Belgium almost nobody ever heard about,  but they were giving that audience the same enthusiastic dedication.

When they ended their club performance the clock was ticking 3h30AM right now and Jules and I  hoped that we still had a chance to get what we came for and to snap those very necessary Polaroid pictures when I noticed Posdnuos waving at me and inviting me to enter the glass vip stage.

That was extremely nice, because by that time, the boys just ended their performance and were having a good time with their friends and entourage, had a few drinks and probably were a little bit exhausted from the performance. Many artists would not really enjoy taking close up pictures anymore being in that relaxed state of mind, all tired and sweaty.

But I guess Posdnuos understood why I was there in the first place and he had no problem at all with me taking those very wanted Polaroid pictures. Not only did he pose for my camera, he also encouraged and motivated Maseo and Dave to do the same and encouraged me to approach them, telling me that he already briefed them and that they were cool with the whole idea.

Taking decent Polaroids in a hectic club is quite the challenge, but the boys really worked with me, and had no problem with me putting them in the right position and stuff.

Exhibits:

Maseo was being his smiley self, but I proposed to take another shot, and suggested he shows only one eye in some way or another, so there is a certain continuity in the Polaroids that would lead to hopefully a cool result.

I explained the boys what I meant,

Exhibit:

and Maseo was completely down with the idea.

Exhibit:

and last but not least a way more personal DE LA SOUL group picture than I had in Paris.

Exhibit:

These were the results  I was aiming for and I was so happy  that I decided not to settle for less but wait for another opportunity and try my luck for the second time.

We thanked the De La Soul crew a thousand times but they weren’t planning on letting us go just yet and gave Jules and me a full Laurent Perrier Rosé bottle to sip on.

I mean…I’m sure declining gifts in other cultures is very offensive aswell so we just went for it and toasted to making the impossible possible.

Exhibit:

I’m very proud to have DE LA SOUL in my Polaroid selection and I want to give a special shout out to Posdnuos for taking time to listen to my pitch in Paris and supporting this blog with his cooperation in the middle of the night, in a little decadent town by the sea in Belgium for that Polaroid chick from Ostend.

Love

Ouni

PS: I didn’t want you guys to miss out on this one of course…. ;)

One Response

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  1. kirstie said, on December 19, 2011 at 20:16

    I love how you describe the process you go through to take these artist pictures. Its really quite the mission and it shows how dedicated you are to getting the perfect shot. This has definitely inspired me to attempt again to give theophilius london a pair of socks at his next concert. Best wishes Im really excited to see how your blog grows and the individuals you feature.

    -Kirstie


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