Rhymesayers 20 Year Anniversary 

Last month I got to celebrate with my Rhymesayers friends for their 20th Anniversary at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I’ll admit, in 1995 – when RSE was getting started on building what would one day become my favorite independent hip hop record label – the only hip hop I was listening to was from the West Coast, and my 12 year old self was more concerned with singing Selena songs more than anything. But, just because I was late to the party, doesn’t mean that I haven’t been having a good time… 

I was honored to be invited to this celebration. My only experiences in the city of Minneapolis all involve Rhymesayers moments… & I feel so lucky for that! 

I get to the venue a little early to pick up my ticket. I hang around and say hi to some familiar faces before doors open. When I make it inside, I’m so excited! I want to enjoy every minute of this seven-hour joyous occasion.  

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

  
I join some of my favorite Rhymesayers family members stage-side to watch the show. I’m pretty excited when Los Nativos are on. With their Spanish lyrics and Aztec dancers, I feel my culture being proudly represented. 

  

 
  
 

Photos by Cory Dewald

 
 
The show is moving on swiftly and I’m standing amongst some of the upcoming acts. I make my rounds to thank everyone for allowing me to be a part of this. It feels so good to be welcomed by the creators of the legendary label. 
I walk around the arena to watch the show from different angles. From side stage, to my assigned seat, to the engineer booth, it’s all amazing. I like to watch the entire production come together; it fascinates me to catch people (all people) in their element.  
Of course, my immediate attention goes to the performers, but watching Siddiq, J Bird & Slug enjoy the fruits of their labor is just as exciting. It’s beautiful to catch the look on the faces of some of the Rhymesayers artists, while they enjoy their label mates’ sets. I’m greatly entertained by Randy controlling & perfecting the sound. I’m in awe when I spot some of my favorite photographers capturing glorious moments that they’ll share on their websites & Instagram posts. For me, Sarah Dope, Cory Dewald, Van Styles & Beth Saravo are just as big as the stars on the mic.

 

Sarah Dope. Photo by Cory Dewald

  

Van Styles. Photo by Cory Dewald

 
I turn into a total geek when I catch these behind the scenes moments. When I make my way to the friends & family room, I notice that my dear friends have provided us with delicious snacks & plenty of libations. That’s not the best part, though. There’s a door connecting to the media room. It’s buzzing with all the social network stars, afore mentioned, who are working hard to capture moments of the big day. This is where the magic happens. These are the people documenting the night for all the world to see! With laptops, cameras, chargers, and electrical wiring all around, it’s thrilling to see these geniuses at work.   

 

A shot I got at Beth Saravo’s work station.


Around the corner, there’s an interview room. Artists are escorted to & from the exclusive area, while passing by friends & family who are taking a break from the bustling crowd. I dream of being the one behind those doors, asking all the in-depth questions on camera…someday! 

  
I spend my day bouncing around, taking in as much as I possibly can. When I make my way stageside again, I notice headliner, Slug, of Atmosphere.  I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with him casually on a few occasions. Feeling nostalgic, due to the whole “anniversary” thing, I want to share my first Atmosphere memory with Sean. When I go to greet him, he smiles, gives me a hug & for some reason, I chicken out.  
Even though he’s standing alone, and  I have his attention, something inside tells me not to bother him with my story.   I’m sure he hears stuff like this all the time... 

So, I keep the story of how 19 year-old me used to roam the streets of Modesto, CA at night, with loaded spray cans, good friends, and graffiti dreams to myself. “Star,” would be hit up on walls for all to see & I’d be bumping Atmosphere, “And this goes to those who tag and paint walls with aerosol…” 
I’ve never quite remembered what the name of the song was, but who better to ask, than Slug himself? Of course, he’d give me the answer that so many of my fellow Atmosphere fans have failed to provide. But, like I said, my self-doubt got in the way, and all I did was use my reoccurring dialogue. 

“Hi. How are you? So good to see you again!” 

Then, I walked away, hoping not bother him.  
The night goes on, acts continue to grace the stage & move the crowd. Dem Atlas blows me away.  

 

Photos by Cory Dewald

 
  Grieves has me enthralled. 

Photo by Cory Dewald


 
  Prof makes me jump to my feet & party hard with his energetic stage presence.  

 

Photos by Cory Dewald

  
 I’m amazed by DJ Abilities & touched by his tribute to Eyedea.   

Photo by Cory Dewald


 
As always, Aesop astounds me.  

Photo by Cory Dewald

   
Dilated makes me proud to be from California. 

Photo by Cory Dewald

 
I’m wrapped up in every minute. 
I enjoy the show with some of my favorite Rhymesayers (associated) ladies – the Glam Dolls, friends, family & significant others.  

  

We step outside for fresh air, after Brother Ali’s set and hurry back in for some water & to catch Atmosphere as they close the show.   

Photo by Cory Dewald

 
I’m walking through the crowd, floor level when I spot special guest, Spawn, reunited on stage with Slug, performing the song that introduced me to Atmosphere & Rhymesayers as a whole. 

Photo by Cory Dewald

I could kick myself for not telling Slug about it when I had the chance… Oh how different that interaction & the entire night could have gone…

I could picture it already.  Slug would go all Betty Wright (Tonight is the Night) & say something along the lines of

“Ladies & gentlemen, I know a lot of you have been rockin’ with us for a long time. I know you may have seen us live before, but tonight’s set will be a little different. We want to bring back some memories. Everybody, think back to your very first time… When did you first fall in love with Atmosphere? What about Rhymesayers? Well, there’s a lady here tonight that clearly recollects her first time, and she shared it with me earlier…  

And it goes a little something like this…!” 

 

Photo by Cory Dewald

 
Haha! I know, I know… I have a wild imagination. But who knows? Maybe it would’ve happened… 

   

  

    

Photos by Cory Dewald

  
After the confetti fell, gratitude was deeply expressed, and the lights went on, people made their way back to their cars, trains & other forms of transportation to take home with them the warm memories & great feelings about what took place at Target Center that night.  
I headed backstage to check in with friends. When I shared my Slug story with Van Styles, he compared it to the feeling he gets after missing a shot & he encouraged me to always go for it & never hold back… “Because you just never know.” Then, he graciously invited me to Atmosphere’s green room, to tell the story to Sean, myself. I got there in time to watch Slug make his way out, & like my moment, he had escaped. 
On my way to party the night away with some of my favorite people, I ran into Ant & shared the short version of my story with him. It was then that I was finally told the name of that song: Multiples. Boom! Life was good. 
The rest of night was a collection of stories & celebrations with my RSE friends. We partied until we could party no more. Those are the kind of nights I live for!   

 

*Special Thanks to Ashanti for always taking care of me. To Siddiq, J Bird, and the entire Rhymesayers family & extended family for always making “Minnesota Nice” such a real thing in my life. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude in words. To Skye, Jeff, Sarah, Grieves, DJ Fundo, Van Styles, Tanya, Teresa, Jasmine & friends for making my night a fun-filled experience to remember. And, of course, to Beth Saravo and Cory Dewald for collaborating with me & sharing their masterpieces to bring this post to life! 

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
Thank you all so much. I’ll see you at SoundSet 2016! 

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