I knew we were in trouble when I kept hearing myself ask, What'd he say? Sandra, my friend, replied, Uhh -- something about something. Then, I'm ready to go whenever you are. To which I said, What'd you say?
With Mary J, we did just fine (Get it, "Just Fine"?), though I kept reminiscing about the time I saw her at the Essence Festival in New Orleans in the mid-'90s. Ask Mary what's the worst show she's ever performed, and she'll name that one. I heard her say it during an interview years later. I couldn't believe she'd had such a bad night. It was one of the best shows I'd ever seen. Still is. She said she'd started her period (y'all know Mary is candid) and was wearing stockings that kept rolling down. She'd had a hell of an off night. From what I saw she took all that and put it into her performance, and I hate to be corny and use the word electrifying, but that's what she was that night. This time around she was consummate, but much more refined.
When Jay-Z came on, I tried to wait for "Hard Knock Life," but after his first two songs I realized he'd probably do it last or close to last. There was no way we were going to stay the whole time, because we'd already discovered that we were two old ladies spiritedly trying but failing to be down with the youngsters. The minute we walked on the grounds at Irvine, we found ourselves shrinking from the loudness of the radio stations and DJs camped outside the amphitheater. Sandra wasn't having it. She'd cooled to the whole affair when I told her the tickets she'd scored from her childhood friend, Jay-Z's business manager, meant we'd be seeing a show outside (she's a New Yorker, and greatly accustomed to intimate -- read: tiny -- indoor venues). And during Jay-Z's set, I screamed whenever they'd do the loud pop and fireworks between songs. I mean I screamed from fright, not excitement. It was loud, I tell you. Loud and bright.
Sandra just looked bored.
Then it dawned on me what was going on, and I said to myself, Hey, this is just a guy talking. And he's got a band.
I mean, really?!
Can somebody tell me how it is that Black people could have been slaves for more than 200 years if we possess the power to pull off this kind of trickery? It's magic fairy dust, this hip hop, and we've managed to blow it all over world. Talking over music and people dancing and swaying and singing the hooks and just eating it all up.
And we're not even talking about Nas or Talib Kweli.