The year – 1993. The place - The Fernhood, Victoria, B.C. (dat ghetto ova theeere.) The M.C. – A.Tee from Back II Reality. Raised on Public Enemy, but unfortunately more reminiscent of a younger Young M.C.…Then it happened.
At 14 years young, my first studio session was the kind of thing I always dreamed of, as I spat raps from my endless notebook, thinkin’ I was the baddest motherf*cker since Shaft… until I heard the playback. Let’s just say the sound lacked, ummm… SACK. With my new posse impressed with any delivery that didn’t sound like an awkward cracka rappin’ in a mirror, I still felt somethin’ was missing. After the session we piled into a busted-ass little Mazda to go on a mission, as DJ Cash barked at me to grab a CD case wedged between us sardines in the backseat. He popped the disc into the system that was worth twice as much as the car, dialed it to track 5, and sh-t went down that would change my attitude towards rhymin’ for good.
I officially lost my sh-t. The next week I got a hold of a hot Discman, the Enta Da Stage CD, and proceeded to try to deem myself the West Coast Buckshot Shorty. Twenty years later I finally got to thank him.
Fortune Sound Club was the spot, but there was a feeling in the air that it would officially be transformed into Fortune Bucktown at any moment, with so many possibilities of which of the Bootcamp militia would hit the stage first. Then the dark, deep buzz of bass came… “LET’S-LET’S GIT IT-GIT IT OOONNN!!!”
Smif-N-Wessun came barrelin’ out to the track that 18 years ago made them official, not just as Bootcamp representatives, but as the grimy answer to the randoms still wearin’ cartoon sh-t and doin’ the Roger Rabbit. They reminded the crowd why they SHOULD’VE been in a boxing ring for their video, instead of “LL Cool J’in’ it” cuz it looked cool. They brought the Bucktown thunder like they haven’t missed a show in years, even lookin’ like they haven’t stopped bangin’ stages. Either that, or they just stepped out of a DeLorean from times when rhymes were better cuz they were stank dirtaaay. In a time when M.C. ’s that mildly associate with hard-rocks feel the need to act hard on a singin’-ass track, they rained the surREAL. Even the pretty little hotties were gettin’ their mean mug on. Coincidentally, I was smilin’ like a schoolgirl at a Justin Gaga show.
As Sean Price took the forefront of the stage, some of us couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. It was no fault of Ruck (now known as Price), who would’ve been dope solo if he was never associated with Rock, (his partner in Heltah Skeltah) but that situation is what it is. Homeboy can still rap his ass off. Even though I kinda missed the cryptic back’n'forth those two huge bastards had in their heyday with Nocturnal, and classic kicks like “Bruvas betta wreckognize…” growled by the Rockness Monsta, Sean did remind us that even though Shaq was physically more dominant, Tim Duncan made his team better. I just wish Shaq was there to tear the rim off just once.
On that note, there’s manymanymany M.C.’s that have inspired me over the last 20 years… Chuck D, Shock G, Del, Mos Def, Meth, Em, the Fission. But no M.C. inspired me to represent the “little big man” like Buckshot Shorty. He went from one album that changed how confident underrated rappers rapped, to a Smif-N-Wesssun album that brought “east coast hard” back, from gangsta rap bein’ dominated by the West Coast, to inventing the idea of a “team” of groups formin’ like Voltron. And I finally got to be part of the West Coast showin’ a hip-hop icon long overdue propers.
With Jay Haddow flankin’ me, Buckshot showed and proved, takin’ us through the days of East Coast ghetto glory. As he went though his wheelhouse of back-in-the-day tracks that had me thinkin’ I was still wearin’ camo pants and Timbalands, he asked “Who got the props?” and “How many M.C.’s must get dissed?” and the answer was… Bootcamp… and all of them.
In a hip-hop world where the real is few and far between, I’m grateful that there’s still a place that old school can Enta Tha Stage. As a wise man once said… “Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka.”
Mo’ Motherfuckin’ Photos by Jay Haddow!