High-school, LSD, and Chicago Underground Hip Hop

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As a kid, I did a lot of crazy things, like skitching home down busy streets, diving into pools from 3-story diving boards at midnight, etc. This story is about a day when I did multiple crazy things.

High-school, LSD, and Chicago Underground Hip-hop

In high-school, one of my friends sold Acid, not citric acid, lysergic bliss. So it wasn’t a big hoopla to drop a tab here or there when seeing the world in 3D wasn’t enough dimensions to intrigue us. One fine day, while his parent’s were at work, we decided to go to his house and have LSD for lunch. DJing was our favorite shared hobby, so we went to the basement and started scratching and beat juggling our favorite hip-hop records. Just as Q-bert’s Wavetwisters was starting to scratch us back, his highly conservative, severe parents came home early because of a problem at the plant that shut down production for the day. In a panic, I snuck out the back door and drove away, leaving him to have what I imagined to be a very terrifying, unintelligible conversation with his parents. Unable to go home, for fear of having that same conversation with my guardian, I wasn’t sure where to go or what to do.

For those of you who have never tripped, it’s worth noting that it is very much like teleporting to backwards-land, where everything is hilarious and nothing makes sense. It is a feeling and state of mind best enjoyed in a very safe place, where there are no expectations of you, except to periodically laugh uncontrollably for no reason at all. Unlike marijuana, which you might enjoy sitting in a dark theatre watching a movie, or alcohol, which you may enjoy sitting in a kitchen with friends telling jokes that aren’t funny, and fighting over who loves the other more, a good trip has a very small Venn diagram where attention span and not-freaking-the-fuck-out overlap.

I decided to go to Gramaphone records, my favorite record shop, which always turns me on to great new music—sounds like a great time! I forgot the little detail of having to drive for an hour in rush hour traffic to get there: Hell. As previously mentioned, the two things you do NOT want to do on acid is pay attention to anything, or any task that could end in your death, like driving in Chicago. 2,456 near car-wrecks later, I actually make it to gramophone without any blood on my hands, but I’m so tense and my nerves are so wracked that I’m not very excited to be there.

As I’m listening to records and talking to some of the DJs that work there, I mention how big a fan I am of a certain rapper, when It becomes revealed to me that I am speaking to that rapper, who will remain nameless for reasons that will soon become apparent. Like wide receivers, all rappers have huge egos and are suckers for flattery, so he invites me to the back to smoke a blunt and talk hip-hop. Since I’m tripping balls, I assume he is messing with me, but he eventually convinces me he’s serious and I follow him to the back. We sit on some Salvation Army tier couches and smoke up, listening to a PNS Fresh Produce mixtape.

A few months prior, while attending an Atmosphere concert at the Metro, I asked DJ Dibbs, as he walked of stage, if I could have his shirt, to which he responded, “What? We’re selling them at the merch booth.” To which AAHHYY responded, “No, I want the one that you’re wearing!” To his credit, Dibbs was super cool and acquiesced to my request, took off his shirt, and walked off stage topless. Not only was it very nice of him to literally give the shirt off his back to a random fan for no reason at all except that I was weird enough to ask, but, being as overweight as he was, how self conscious he may have been about rolling off stage with his rolls exposed was not lost on me. Anyway, the point is, back then, The Metro’s backstage passes were stickers and the shirt I received from Dibbs had the backstage pass still on it. There was a date stamped on it, but I decided to act confident to the point of abrasive, and cocky my way backstage—This is no small feet by the way, since my Native America, hairless baby face, and  boney frame make me look 13. After successfully getting myself backstage, I came back for my friends as well, “There with me.” I’d explain, nonchalantly. So, for a very nice couple of months, my friends and I enjoyed free backstage access to Dashboard Confessional shows, Sunny Day Real Estate, Alkaline Trio, and Aesop Rock shows. We didn’t even have to buy tickets, or worry if it sold out, or stand outside in line for a good spot on the floor. AND, we could have all the free food and Heineken we desired, which, at 19, we actually thought was a good beer—How could we know it was Busch light in a green bottle?

–back to the present of the story: I kept the shirt/pass in the trunk of my ’89 Buick Century, or B&C studios as she was known by lunchtime freestylers in high school. After discussing the various states of local, underground, Chicago hip hop, I told him the Metro backstage pass story and he explained that another local crew was gonna do a show that night and it would DEFINITELY, be a good idea to check it out, “It’s funna be taaahhhhght!”.

Hoping that this event would lead to dropping a track with one my favorite Chicago MCs, I agree that this is a great idea, despite my current inability to look anyone in the eye, or complete a full sentence.

He drives us to the metro, he freestyles in the car to some Molemen beats and I am in hip-hop heaven. As we walk in, I say to him, quite coolly, “just follow my lead, {wink, head nod}” As I skip the line and walk past the doorman, the doorman asks, quizzically, “What are you doing?!” To which I respond, careful not to embarrass him by questioning someone with a backstage, someone as important as myself–after all I don’t want to get the poor guy fired!, “Oh, I’m with the band” I respond, pointing to the well worn sticker, wearing a facial expression that says, “Oops, it’s cool. I forgive you”. What I didn’t know, but the bouncer was quite happy to explain, was that the backstage passes had recently been changed from stickers to lanyards and he didn’t know how I got that old sticker, but I was officially banned from the Metro for life.

This didn’t go over terribly well with my new friend, who was very excited to see this show. What I also didn’t know is WHY he was so excited to see the show. As the actual musical talent showed up, loading up from the alley, my new friend walked briskly toward them, but instead of doing that half hug/half hand shake that tough dudes do, he decides to start screaming instead. Apparently, they had battled each other at some party and one said some personal shit and a few underground mixtapes later, There was more beef than a rodeo.

“Nigga I know you didn’t think I wasn’t gonna find yo ass!!!”

“Fuck yo bitch ass nigga ass!”

“You crossed the line Homie (this was circa 1998 and people still said “homie” without a shred of irony). I ain’t gone stand for it.”

I don’t do well with confrontation on a good day, I hate it, and believe me, tripping balls doesn’t make it any more enjoyable. One of them breaks a bottle, bouncers come out of the back door, and my dude pulls out a machete from his pants, which is scary because it is a dangerous weapon, sure, but even scarier because…Who the fuck carries around a machete?!?! What. The. Fuck. Honestly, if he would have pulled out an AK-47, I would have been less freaked out—it’s more dangerous, but at least I would have been like, “yeah, that makes sense as a decision between weapons to defend one’s self with {shoulder shrug}” brandishing a Machete is just fucking crazy! And how was he chilling and smoking and DRIVING, with a god damn Machete in his pants!?!?!?

My freak out level is up to eleven and I can’t remember the details, but I wouldn’t be surprised to one day stumble upon surveillance footage of me sucking my thumb in the fetal position. After a few more threats, the performers say to me, “Yo. your boy’z crazy, fuck this shit, we got a show to do.” And move inside. The cops are called and as the sirens begin to squeal, my new machete friend runs off into the night.

Now I am standing alone in an alley, tripping on acid, as cops are coming to my location, and a whole crew of people are feet away who think I’m with the guy that’s trying to cut them in half. Not a great place to be at the moment, so I decide to walk away casually. My car is still at Gramaphone, so I have to take a bus back to it. Thankfully, by now I’m coming down, and ready to just relax and go home. As I near my car, I’m looking out the bus window and I see my dude eating ice cream at a Baskin Robin’s, with the look on his face of a 5 year old without a care in the world. I think to myself, what the fuck just happened? Is this real life?

Ever since then, when one of my dude’s songs comes on my iTunes, I remember that day, and laugh at how invincible I thought I was at that age and how desperately I sought adventure. I have had a whole lot of adventures now, and depending on the day and my mood, and how invincible I feel at the moment, sometimes homeboy is my least favorite rapper, and sometimes, He is the best.

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