If you don’t, I highly recommend you catch up on that one. It shines a light on my quest in a very ‘no pain, no gain’ kinda way.
But, you know what they say: ‘By perseverance the snail reached the ark.’
Grand Master Flash was booked for the Les Ardentes festival. He was a headliner, playing from midnight till 02h30 in the morning.
Now, after GMF did his gig a couple of months ago in Depot, Leuven he wasn’t really spared from criticism.
It is a fact that he didn’t come back on stage, to greet the audience. It is a fact that he didn’t do a bis-song.
Not that this is obligated, but, if the public screams your name, to say your final greetings, why would you not return the respect?
He will have his reasons, I guess.
Word is, that while his entourage was packing the records, he was already waiting in the car, ready to get the hell out of there…
Word is, that Mr Grand Master Flash is not very…easy…sort of speak. Neither is he outgoing nor social.
The critics were though on him the next day on Belgium’s radio Studio Brussels….
But hey…maybe it was all exaggerated? Maybe it was all ‘he said, she said bullshit’?
So while I was waiting for Grand Master Flash to finish off his set, I – again- heard some rumors that he had very high demands, and that he wasn’t the easiest person to catch and make some conversation with.
Basically, I heared that he just wasn’t nice. Period.
I was warned.
But there was no wày, I was letting him walking out on me a second time. Not with the major exceptional good conditions I was surrounded with.
Remember? Full access, under, next and behind the stage with my crew-member bracelet? (Read the Kid Cudi story)
All of a sudden, I see him going off stage. Just like that.
He was walking very fast off stage, and I could see him disappear in the darkness of that giant lodge behind the stage.
He was all alone, no entourage, no other photographers, nobody. This was my moment.
Jules and I started running towards him.
I slowed down when I approached him, while gently ticking him on the shoulder.
“Excuse me Mr….”
He abruptly stopped and turned around. He looked…aggravated?
Surprised by his reaction, I hear my voice trembling.
“Hello, Mr, uhm..Grand Master…would it please be possible to take a Polaroid picture from you, I have this little project, where I take mainly hiphop, soul, rap artist on Polaroid. A while a go, I also did the Sugar Hill Gang, and…”
He looked at me real mad and snapped: “I am NOT the Sugar Hill gang” while looking behind and to his left or right, uncomfortable, and clearly nòt wanting to be there where he was.
You know, I start to get used to unexpected reactions but I do admit, I was a bit shocked by his.
(I’m an every day learning music freak, but, excuse me, I know that he is NOT the Sugarhill Gang, I mean, come on.)
“Uhm…I didn’t tell you, you were…, right?”
(Is there some beef that I don’t know about between them, clearly they ain’t best buddies, but I mean, since they are from the same decade, I thought it might be interesting to at least mention them? NOT.)
He looked at me, and in his eyes, I could see that he knew that his answer was just a bìt over the line.
I was asking the question in a very polite manner, with the help of Bambi-eyes. (doesn’t always work trust me, Vanessa Rabitt is a much bigger success, but for some reason it takes more time and alcohol to dig her up)
He sighed (deep) knodded (with a little’ arrrghh-Ok-then), and looked at my camera. (in the exact meaning of the word, ‘looking’.)
3.2.1. Flashing. Lights. Bingo.
I shaked his hands, thanked him a million times, and told him how much I appreciated his cooperation.
He immediately left, chased by a small camera-crew who spotted the man because of my Polaroid flashing in the dark lodge.
(They were running after him, with 6..yeah right..not gonna happen)
I saw how shocked they were, when he yelled something and turned completely the other way around, almost running away from them.
Me? I was just shaking that Polaroid picture.
Word is that he stopped playing in the middle of his set, although he was outta play for at least 30 minutes more.
Word is that he is a very difficult person, and doesn’t really handle the huss&fuss towards an artist anymore.
Word is, that I just got lucky.
Well, you can look at it in a certain way, but we never really know what is in that mans head.
He will probably have his reasons, reacting the way he does.
We can only respect him for what he is, and what he stands for.
And about being lucky…?
Waiting for 3 hours in the dark, next to a stage while you see a crowd of 1000 or more having the time of their life, while you are fighting against Mr Sandman is not luck.
It’s called perseverance.
Can you have your cake and eat it too? I always try too. I always loose.
When I found out that Grandmaster Flash and Xzibit were both in Belgium
on the same Friday night in two different cities, deep inside I already knew I was doomed.
To choose is to lose and I hate losing so I went for both.
These are the bare necessities you need to know:
Grandmaster Flash was playing in Leuven possible starting from 21H00.
Xzibit was booked to perform in a club in St-Niklaas around 02H00.
I live in Ostend but work in Brussels. Yup.
Due to ‘unexpected circumstances’ I had to stay in Brussels Thursday night.
This meant that when I arrived at my work on Friday I realized I did not have
my precious Polaroid with me. Basically this meant I had to return home to
Ostend after work.
Now, some other thing you have to know. I don’t have a car. Nope.
Me and Public Transport, we are friends since waaaay back. Sure it’s a love/hate
relationship, but in times of need, PT was always there for me.
But blog-wise, the fact that I don’t have a car was a serious problem, since
I had to figure out a way to go from Leuven to St-Niklaas in the middle of the night.
I asked around and I quickly found a trooper who agreed on being on stand-by,
picking us (Jules and me) up in Antwerp and driving us to St-Niklaas.
To visualize the distance,a little map:
You all realize this is nuts right?
So since I had 4 hours of PT solitude I started thinking about the 2 artist.
I decided for myself that Grand Master Flash was my chocolate pie and Xzibit was
the icing on my cake.
I was curious about Grandmaster Flash. After 20 years he is back with a new
album called THE BRIDGE with a lot of hiphop’s A-lister collaborations.
Grandmaster is considered to be one of hiphop’s founding fathers and claims to bethe first to what initially was called ‘cutting’ and is now known as ‘scratching’. In his own words: The first DJ to make the turnable and instrument.
There is an ancient discussion about Kool Herc being the first to actually touch the records and move them back forth and clockwise , but Grandmaster Flash believes he was the first to use this technique.
There is no doubt that Grandmaster is your DJ’s DJ. He started the whole hip hop movement in The Bronx, scored a global hit with ‘The Message’ and is the reason why we are all familiar with concepts like MC-ing and freestyle battles.
A big misconception about Grandmaster Flash :
He is not the one rhyming on the platinum sold ‘The Message’ song although he is
credited on records. If you don’t hear a scratch, Grandmaster is not on it.
Anyhow, I arrived pretty late in Leuven. When I entered, the (sold out) venue was already packed, but my PIC and some friends were already front row waiting for me.Approximately 15 minutes after my arrival, Grandmaster Flash came on stage.He didn’t wait long to put the fire in the venue and I found myself jumping, dancing and sweating already 10 minutes later.
There were visuals behind him that moved in sync with him spinning his records and showed a small biography. I had fun, although I have to be a bit honest by telling you guys that I was surpised by the
set he played. I imagined him playing more oldskool stuff so I was surprised to hear a nirvana-blur-white stripes mash-up that we hear so often nowadays. But hey…
Now, as quickly as he came up, as fast was he gone. He greeted the audience and that was that…
He didn’t return neither, like other artists do, but he was a DJ so that might be different. Or not.
He was always focused on spinning his records so there was absolutely no eye contact. His entourage was just one guy with big corn rolls. I started to get nervous since things didn’t feel right. The guy was still hanging around on stage, packing Grandmasters stuff. He didn’t look up so It took me 3 empty water bottles that I rolled on stage to get his attention. When he finally looked up, he approached me.
I explained him the project and although he was very friendly he immediately told me
it was impossible to take a picture from Grandmaster since he was already gone.
I had my doubts about that one. Since when do artists leave without the entourage?
I mean, ofcourse it was possible, but still… My head started spinning. Normally I would
try harder, push it harder, hustle harder but I didn’t want to miss a possible ride to Xzibit
neither. So I asked a last time and the man told me I had to visit http://www.grandmasterflash.com and send an official email with my request. I laughed and said: “So, If I send an email, somebody will respond, and next time you see me I càn take a picture?” “Sure, he answered me., we will be back soon to promote the album.” Was he for real or not? I had no time to doubt him, so I thanked him for his advice and
left the venue. Jules was still discussing with him, still trying to get her way in, but if
you have to discuss or negotiate to long with entourage, I knew we wouldn’t get in unless
we sneak in. (Read Diane, Diane, Die-An) But unfortunately we didn’t have the time for that.
So we left the venue, focused on getting in St-Niklaas.
By the time we got in Antwerp, my stand-by ride still didn’t reply.
I didn’t have a plan C, so basically that meant that we were fucked.
No ride to St-Niklaas. No Xzibit.
I wanted it all, and I ended up with nothing.
Now isn’t that…ironic.
I decided to buy a car.
I told you it doesn’t get any easier.
PS: Don’t forget his Furious Five: