I bought Hip-Hop Connection to read on the train home today, despite having a perfectly good book to read. It has Dizzee Rascal on the front (the excellent interview reveals Dizzee shares my theory about grime and crunk), which I obviously applaud, but I can think of a few so called "heads" that will be spitting blood. Ho ho. Anyway, the thing I found initially confusing, as the Major Playaz section at the front told me that "Khia debut ‘My Neck My Back’ is shaking up dancefloors both sides of the Atlantic". The strange statement is even illustrated with a page–sized picture of the dear lady, once proposed to by Elliot "Yellow Nigga" Wilson in one of his incredible editorials. Have I gone mad? Didn’t that come out, like two years ago? Anyway, my little belly swooned when I flipped to page 40 and saw ME! It is a mainly accurate piece, incredibly enough. It’s interesting seeing what people pick up on from a half hour conversation. Chris De Burgh gets the main quote. Whup! Yet somehow they got the impression I found "my niche in hip-hop long before the chances… of becoming a Brit Pop disciple or indie kid managed to kick in". Not true! I was well into indie! And Britpop! (Most of ‘Nuisance’ remains glorious!) AND HIP-HOP! Shoot me in the face! We can do it all! We are LIVING IN THE FUTURE!
As made evident on the new Virgin train I got from Birmingham. All the doors are touch button-open up, and there are weird green neon lights everywhere. They have done away with most of the bogs too, presumably to stop so many people hiding in them. The journey was very speedy also, and it only cost thirty quid return.
I was in Redditch yesterday. Well, I was in Birmingham first. It has a new Bull Ring, in case you’d not heard. The old Bull Ring was a foul stink hole littered with malnourished teenagers and pensioners drinking stale tea from yellowed plastic cups, carpeted with fag butts, air thick as butter… the place stank of piss and only seemed to sell plastic buckets and toilet paper. (But it did have a dear little comic shop from which I once purchased ten pounds worth of Marvel UK first issues that took me about an hour to read and nearly destroyed my love of the medium forever.)
Now it is some kind of modern American super mall, all glittering and air conditioned and blue and full of nice modern shops and touch screen computer terminals directing you to the comic shop. Or not, as the comic shop is gone. But there is a Bear Factory, news of which seemed to disturb Sophie rather.
Anyway. I was in Redditch, because my Nan is eighty, and my uncle Maurice and Auntie Sheila are the only people in our family with a big enough house, so we came from all over the country to congratulate her on her huge acquired wisdom. I have not been to my uncle Maurice and auntie Sheila’s new house before. I lived in their old one for a little while, and when we were all small boys we stayed there often. It was always heated, and you didn’t have to sleep with water bottles and socks in the winter.
But their new house is lovely, and somehow even shares the same smell as the old one. You know how all homes have their own smells. I couldn’t describe theirs. At a push I would say maybe Turkish Delight and wine and clean sheets, but really it smells of warmth. Maurice has created an awesome uphill garden out back full of water and things. And you can see all of Redditch from the front. Well, a lot of it. There is a lot more than I remembered. Orange sky. We were driving through it, and my belly did summersaults, reacting quite violently to the images beamed from my eyeballs to my brainstem, memories of all the sad things that happened. There was the road where Emma fell to her knees sobbing and I walked away. There’s the tunnel me and Pat did speed and drank fucking cider in. There’s where I was and Jimmy and Potter and Pigsy and the police. Blah blah blah.
I hadn’t been to Redditch since the last millennium, I realised, and it is intensely gladdening how things change. There was a time I couldn’t look dear uncle Maurice in the eyeballs, and now I can give him a big hug and hear about his adventures in Yellowstone Park and it’s wicked. There is nothing worse than seeing real, hardened disappointment in the eyes of those you love. Back in the day I was a terrible raging mess with warped priorities and no sense of perspective or, like, universal reverberation. Now I have a vague understanding of karma and I make the songs that make the whole world sing.
Ho ho. Oh, but I do. And seeing pride in the eyes of those you love is the exact opposite of that horrid Other, that sinks your belly and fills you with creeping dread and a vast unquenchable sadness. Now my heart is full.
It felt so then, anyway. I like being around all my brothers and my auntie and uncles and Nan and Mam and her Keef. I didn’t for a while, perhaps because I was Bad and I knew they knew, and now I don’t feel I have that much to be ashamed of. (Mind you, it is funny to consider what some of them think of narcissistic drivel like ‘John The Baptist’ or that one I wrote about shooting presidents and what have you).
I made my Nan a song by rapping over a Dolly Parton loop, because she is 80. I so can’t wait until I am 80. I will understand so many things!
And this is even more awesome. It's off the next Sage Francis LP, and he's MP3d it because it is political and there is an election happening soon, had you not heard.