In a makeshift basement set-up in Randallstown, I’m with my brethren Last Born Child, Superman, Eazzie Da Tattman, Bangla, and OOH collaborating, passing ideas back and forth, and generally building like real men should under positive conditions. It’s a brisk fall day, but the heat being generated by the energy in the underground dwelling is intense. Ideas and rhymes are being passed around as effortlessly as a peace pipe Studio time is therapy for me; it gives me a chance to release creative juices in a communal setting. After a couple of hours of this lyrical and musical bonding, a few more like-minded bodies walk through the basement door, avoiding the lowered ceiling that can wreak havoc on the unsuspecting head of anyone 6’0” and above. My man Eightsense and musical sister Anonamas, the two entities that make up the soul/hip hop outfit 8orMas, make their presence felt, exuding even more positive vibes. All in all, it is an extended family affair in this place commonly referred to by OOH as the “Fish Bowl”. Different species of aquatic creatures coexisting in a small space is an apt description, because the fluid nature of our purpose is evident in the location.
Others come through the door throughout the day and evening: Stryfe Stryker, Atlanta-based Chris, Eze from Soul Cannon, B Fly, Tiff, and Keston De Coteau, each here to lend support and vibe. Not only is the day ripe for studio time, but a video is being shot on the spot by Keystone Productions, a company conceived by Keston. Lovely indeed! This is the essence of creativity. This is the essence of dopeness. This is the essence of the hip hop aesthetic. The bling dynasty thought process is not part of the equation, only the addition of beats plus rhymes. Be it inside the lower level, or outside on the adjacent lot for the property, we are seeing firsthand the video process unfold, all the while being active participants in the process. From Bangla directing and coordinating, to Keston utilizing his videography acumen, another good creation is on the way, so stay tuned.
As daylight bleeds into night, the vibe is still energetic, with the aroma of smoky creativity permeating the atmosphere. I can go on and on about the inner workings of this day on the calendar, October 22, 2011. That chapter I will save for a later date, a later time when I again put pen to paper, or in this instance fingers to keyboard. Upon leaving this Liberty Road honeycomb hideout, it seems as if the day is just beginning. There are more hours to create, more people to reach, more ideas to express through this vehicle we are driving called hip hop. Next stop, The Castle Lounge in South Baltimore. Beats and rhymes are again on the menu, ready for consumption for a hungry crowd. Let’s just say that Last Born Child and Eazzie Da Tattman, along with myself supplying the the human vocal percussion, will feed the hungry masses in attendance. “Nas Is Like” and “It’s Yours” are playing as backdrop for a lyrical barrage by two driven emcees, one a veteran in the trenches, and another a relative newcomer who is paying dues and experiencing what the music is offering, a chance to express and paint vivid pictures. Line after line, metaphor after metaphor, syllable after syllable are being spit into microphones that at times are adequate, and at other moments are attempting to falter. Without missing a figurative beat, this collective of artists came, saw, and are conquering right in front of a crowd ranging from late teens to that Golden Era-laced 35 and older set. A melting pot to say the least is what The Castle Lounge experience is radiating. What more can I say?
Saturday night is now early Sunday morning, and we are now discussing the day’s events. In a 2001 Grand Marquis that is suited for our everyman missions, we cruise the streets for nourishment to replenish strength from the events of the long day that began fourteen hours earlier. Sitting in a 24-hour diner, topics of conversation range from the state of hip hop music, what contributions we can all make to it, and more general ideologies facing each one of us on a day to day. Be it relationship plateaus and depths, economic empowerment, the ever-changing climate politically, our three-headed conversation is leaving no stone unturned. At least for the moment, we can put everything on the proverbial table, sharing space with the food we are now eating and enjoying. Last Born Child coming with a poignant notion about where our collective love of this music can take us, or his nephew Eazzie Da Tattman, who has been patiently and attentively absorbing the fruits of knowledge for his mental consumption, or myself, the one known as Wisdom, not always living up to the name, but eventally owning it. We are in or element. The food is good, but the priceless dialogue is even better. We ingest the cuisine, but we digest the undeniable knowledge from today and tonight.
This story that you see here is in present tense because we all need to live for the moment, right now, at this precise space in time. We do not know what the future holds. We can only recollect what the past has shown each of us. That past, be it good or bad, will mold us in the proper fashion, with God’s grace and our own common sense. Stupidity can cost you, but sense if free! I am at my place of solace, in front of a 15.6” Toshiba laptop, typing away, documenting, thinking. I thank God for those put in my cipher that care and share love for music, art, and humanity. I thank each and every one that is reading this, for your support has no price tag. I am Wisdom, and I am the embodiment of this thing we call hip hop!
Photographs courtesy of Keston De Coteau with Keystone Productions and Wisdom in conjunction with Last Born Child