Meeting Rap Stars

April 21st, 2007

Whether we want to admit it or not, it’s always fun when we see someone relatively famous out. But this isn’t Heat so I won’t tell you about the time I sat a few rows behind Paris Hilton at the cinema. As I’m sure you’ve all had the opportunity to meet some of your favourite rappers, I’m going to share with you some experiences of my own.

Although not a rapper per se, a few good verses here or there doesn’t make him a rapper, producer and fashion icon Pharrell is the most famous person in Hiphop I’ve met. Perhaps it’s because this guy has been responsible for selling millions of records and is more someone you see on the TV than you expect to run into every day. But thinking I could just go up and say a quick word seemed quite difficult and I hate to say it but I probably looked like a shy girl meeting a member of Nsync rather than giving some kind of cool Hiphop handshake. Pharrell himself was actually pretty sound and I couldn’t leave without a picture to make a few friends jealous, but any Hiphop cred’ I thought I had sadly went in the men’s department of Selfridges that day.

But if I thought this was embarrassing, on reciting this little anecdote to some friends, they reminded that I’m not the only one who has had some interesting encounters with their favourite MC. There are some lessons to be learned if your meetings with rap stars are to go smoothly.

Firstly, if you’re going to enjoy a beer or two at a gig, make sure you’re not drunk when your encounter happens. When Aspects came through Southampton to perform as part of a Bank Holiday Hiphop special in a local bar, one of my friends popped along for a few beers and bars from his favourite Bristol group that aren’t the Wurzels. Yet when he got the chance to have a bit of banter it went a little bit wrong.

Drunk mate: ‘”So how’d ya get ere?”

El Eye: “what?”

Realizing he didn’t actually want to ask this he felt he had little choice but to continue asking his travel arrangements.

Drunk mate: “How’d ya get ere?”

El Eye: “Drove”

Drunk mate: ”Whatm today?”

El Eye: “Yes”

Drunk Mate: “Ok thanks…”

Not exactly smooth by any means…

It’s not advisable to insult a member of an artist’s entourage either. After being joined at the table post gig by Blak Twang, Big Ted and a then relatively unknown K9, a particularly funny conversation about Big Ted being a presenter on children’s TV turned sour quickly. His defence was that the club speakers were very loud but by repeatedly asking his name K9 was quick to stop his street cred’ being dissed by a cheeky teen by asking if he found his name funny. We were kind and let them have the whole table after that.

You have to remember that rappers have feelings too and sometimes show their emotional side. Going back to the good ol’ days of the essential festival on Hackney Marshes, after Jurassic 5 had just finished their set a friend sought to find out why a particular song wasn’t played while he also grabbed a quick picture with Chali 2na. The reason being one of his closest friends had passed away not long before and it would have been too hard to perform. The mere mentioning of the song almost brought the watery eyes and the other fans wanting a picture would have to wait for another chance to now get their snap.

While in these situations it’s pretty much all give and no take for the rapper. They really don’t want to hear how that B-side to that limited pressing reminds you of the time you overcame a particular bad moment, when all they want to do is see if at least one of the ten girls that came to the show are actually single. But in certain instances they can be very helpful.

While visiting the Islington Academy for the first time last year to see Sway, we had a little trouble in locating the venue. We didn’t expect the venue to be tucked away like it is and were heading for Highbury until we noticed Sway’s DJ and right-hand man DJ Turkish. He and his friend then led us to the venue (surely some VIP passes wouldn’t have gone amiss?) and exchanging banter without feeling it was a chore.

The majority of the time if you’re going to meet a rapper it’s at his place of work, the live show, but sometimes you can see your favourite rapper in everyday situations. Yes they do normal things when not ballin, hustling and all that jazz. Once in Superdrug I like every other bloke who had been dragged in there by their missus looked lost, one particular disgruntled man was Ty, who had clearly been giving a shopping list by the other half and wasn’t having the best of times walking round the store.

But sometimes things can go particularly well and end up with some random circumstances. After Swollen Members Jazz Café performance my housemate asked if there was an after party happening to which the reply was there wasn’t one. He decided to invite them to help find somewhere to drink and resulted in Swollen Members being led round Camden trying to find a bar still serving. If Swollen Members thought they had found some noble tour guides they were wrong. But after a trip to an off licence later they found themselves in Swollen Members hotel having beers and listening to Stevie Wonder. I’m pretty sure Swollen Members were hoping for guests at their hotel for some late night entertainment and a bit of Stevie, but I doubt they had planned on four male companions for the night. He has been called a groupie since.

Sometimes it’s best if you see the rapper on stage and it ends there, as circumstances don’t always play like would hope. But if you could choose to go for a pint with someone, you may not go wrong with any of these…

Redman & Method Man
Stig of the Dump
Anyone from The Beats label
R.A Rugged Man
Snoop Dogg
Roots Manuva