A Tribe Called Quest — Buggin’ Out. My Dad lived in San Antonio (2 hours away) during my teens. At 16, I could take drive to visit. Simultaneously, I started to build my own life at my Mom’s. Visits got scarce. Wanted to hang, fellas.
My friend Tom drove a big blue truck. He had this CD laying on the dash. It had three guys, outlined in neon green. They looked wide-eyed. Humbling. I asked if I could borrow the CD. Tom said ok.
I played the CD on a road trip to my Dad’s. Back to back. Density. It took about 3-4 minutes to leave city limits. By the time I was out of town, at 65 mph, this song came on. The quest began.
It was a re-introduction to jazz. The upright bass. The snare sampled from some dirty funk drum. All with vocals that were anything but noisy. This music was a search. A search for the beginning of everything.
I took more drives to San Antonio for a while. I enjoyed the solitude. No fellas. No parents. Just soul searching.
Common - Funky For You. I moved into my first-ever place with two best friends. It was 5 miles outside of the city. We could be loud. We could play drums and instruments. I felt fear moving out at first. Responsibility, maybe?
It’s interesting mixing your life with other people for the first time. I owned the couch. Chris owned the coffee table. I owned the stereo. Jay owned the microwave. The kitchen table was mine. Eventually, I lost any entitlement.
I worked in a music store and brought home this Common CD. I called it “the green one”. It was late one night in our place. We had some friends over. A light on in the kitchen across the way was on. Just bright enough. The subtle drums kept the room alive. Just enough, just like the light. Common’s flows not too loud. Fluid instruments. I put it on repeat and felt comfortable.
Despite the furniture. Despite the responsibility, it felt so good to be in your own place. Alright. Ok. I could groove.
Always picking fights with myself.
Just when it all comes together.
Can’t believe that I can be so hard on everything.
When the game has never been so easy.
It’s people. It’s all this reaching at me.
I can’t be actin’ like I’m the only one.
Hustlin’ like the job is never done.
Wouldn’t know freedom if it hit me, with a Louisville to the back of the spine.
And then I met you. And everything is just fine so fine.
"Not art. Just me."
Photek - Ni Ten Ichi Ryu. Growing up in a smaller town (pop. 50,000), we drove far to parties. At night, mostly. Sometimes it would take 45 minutes to reach a place. Usually down a long, empty road.
It seemed to go nowhere. Space was irrelevant. You could watch the stars though.
We would listen to Photek on these dark road trips. This song always sent our 18-year-old brains into a frenzy. How could you make something sound so busy, from a space that sounded so empty? It was intelligent.
We were finally getting somewhere.
"Having a good time. Just isn’t good enough."
CFCF - Raining Patterns. Early 2012, my new job called. Friday before my first day. They wanted me to come to Chicago. I was excited — I had friends there. I asked where to go.
They said the Merchandise Mart.
It’s colossal. It used to be the largest building in the world. It’s own zip code. Impressive architecture.
I had learned about CFCF from his Night Bus mix. I saw it on a blog. The artwork had the Blade Runner girl. Someone gave me his new album, “Continent”. The name reminded me of big things.
I listened to this first track while approaching this massive architecture. Long, warm “undercurrent” synth that heats thousands of square footage. Shiny, triumphant leads. An introduction to a successful piece of work. And of course, the strong 707 that follows the footsteps of structure.
I commuted and worked out of that building for 3 months. Wide became the new tall. Shapes made impact. No boundaries.