Where am I? Oh, right, I’m at Neumo’s for The Roots’ listening luau. My GPS is a little skeeved at the moment, primarily due to all the dimestore Popov (or whatever the bartender was using as call Vodka) I gulped down and the fact that my editors sadistically required that I file this blog by 9 a.m. (A strict aside to those dudes: Hey, don’t you guys think that I’d be on staff somewhere if I wanted to curb my drinking and get up this early? For future reference, please remember that I measure success by the amount of hours I get to sleep past noon--which might explain why I’m uninsured.)
But, in the face of ?uestlove’s frighteningly good DJ set and delicious ’fro, I have to concede that alcohol-induced bewilderment--with a dash of sleeplessness--isn’t such a bad thing. It’s, you know, worth it. That said, I can’t tell whether I’m loving Phili’s finest polymath and his adventures on the turntables because he dropped so many cuts that took me traveling down the cobblestone pathways of memory lane (Biggie’s “Big Poppa”, Easy-E’s “Boys-N-the-Hood”, something by Slick Rick--forgive me, the Popov had set in). Or because ?uest, despite that he’s so often the primary focus of all Roots analysis, knows how to play the back-up man when Black Thought’s on stage.
Which brings me to this guy. This is Russell Goodwine, who, like me, hails from the humid flatlands of Tampa. Besides repping the same hometown, we also both think Black Thought is one of the most underrated MCs in the game. Russell contends, “He’s almost like the Chuck D of these days,” and he might be right about that, though Thought’s probably too under-handed for drawing such a parallel in magic marker. Best keep it in pencil, in case you wanna revise.
Anyway, besides that he agreed with me on one of the key issues of our time (forget this Hilliary versus Obama stuff; it’s sooo yesterday), Russell entered my good graces (don’t you want to be there?) by helping me get my addled mind around the whole listening party concept. The Roots, of course, were on-hand to promote its new disc Rising Down--which, fuck what you’ve heard, isn’t any more dark than, say, 1999’s Things Fall Apart--in a day and age where so much of what we ingest comes in plastic wrapping.
“Nowadays, everything’s so digital,” says Russell, sipping from a rum and coke. “This is for true fans who wanna be in this atmosphere.”
Hyperbolic? Maybe. But I for one was there for that reason--and, of course, because my editors told me to.