Yule Prog 2 was my first show in New York along with my old group W.A.S.T.E.L.A.N.D.S. It was quite an experience. Not only because of the show itself, but because of the events leading up to and after the show. Let's go.
The first year we went to Yule Prog, Denku and I decided to drive because Denku at the time was afraid of flying. So, Denku, my brother, his friend and I crammed in his Mazda and drove 13 hours from Chicago to Staten Island. We left Chicago at 1am in the dead of winter during an ice storm. We pick up my brother and his friend and get on the expressway. An SUV behind us decides to accelerate and fly by us instead of merging, and slams into the wall. We didn't stop because we had a rap show to do (I know, we're dicks). We stop, get gas and, some snacks once we got into Indiana. We decide we're going to split gas four ways, and my brothers friend says he's going to cover the tolls, turnpike and the bridges when we get into New York. The three of us gave each other a look like, "this cheap motherfucker" (more on that later).
The drive went relatively smooth, we shot the shit, freestyled, listened to hip hop getting ourselves geeked up for our first trip and show in New York. In Brooklyn no less. We hit the Pennsylvania Turnpike and we figured out why my brothers friend said he'd cover tolls and bridges. THAT SHIT WAS EXPENSIVE AS FUCK! At the time, it was $20.00 dollars to get on in Pennsylvania and off in New Jersey. Suddenly, my brothers friend went from cheap son of a bitch to FUCKING HERO. Us Midwesterners damn near had a heart attack. We're used to tolls, but damn, you East Coasters are getting taxed. We make it into New Jersey and Denku smacks his fender trying to merge on a compact bridge to get to the right exit. Like I said, the drive went relatively smooth. Until we got east.
We make it Staten Island in 13 and half hours. on this day, we have a battle and a performance to attend. We catch up with Nasa for a bit, catch a shower, meet up with Augury, who did the smart thing and flew into New York and rented a car. My brother and his friend headed to Manhattan because his friend went to NYU so they got settled there and met us later. We tried to get Nasa to go site seeing with us, but he wasn't having it on this night. I wouldn't find out until years later how stressful these events were to put on. So, we headed to New York on our own.
We decided to drive to Brooklyn and park the car at Public Assembly so we could take the train into Manhattan so we could go go see Ground Zero. We grab some food at Qdoba, (I know it's fucked up, but we didn't know better at the time) and head over to Ground Zero. By this time it was completely fenced in and closed off. Wasted trip. We make our way to some stores to cop some sneakers and possibly new outfits for the show. I find some fresh ass Air Max that match my Presence t-shirt perfectly. Augury and I couldn't find clothes that caught our eye. Denku found this ridiculously loud white and faux fur Timberland coat. We dared him to perform in it the next night (he did).
We did a little more sight seeing and headed to Public Assembly for the battle and the show featuring performances by The Presence and one of my hip hop heroes, Masai Bey. Before the show, a battle was held. I wanted to do it, but I was tired as fuck and didn't want to get destroyed. Denku entered the battle and went up against Chaz Kangas. Now, I haven't watched the video since that day, but I feel like Chaz Kangas had the home field advantage on this one. I'll embed the video and we'll go back and see. Chaz Kangas wound up winning a fun battle, The Presence and Masai crushed their sets. If you've never seen Masai Bey live, punch yourself in the dick (or vagina). He's one of the best I've seen live.
Chaz Kangas vs. Taiyamo Denku (Video by: Uncommon Nasa)
After a fun night we head back to Staten Island for some rest, shit talking and practice for Yule Prog. We head out to Brooklyn to South Paw to set up for the show. We were opening the night so we wanted to make sure we were mentally ready. We drove from Staten Island to Brooklyn and encounter the expensive Verrazano Bridge. That motherfucker was $20.00 at the time to cross! We get to the venue and set up the merch table. I ask Nasa where I can put my bag so it doesn't get stolen or bothered. He tells me in the Green Room downstairs.
I head to the Green Room entrance, open the door, and see the stairs that would almost send me to my death (kind of). I wish I had a picture of these fucking stairs. They were the steepest stairs I've ever seen. You needed A FUCKING SHERPA AND GOAT to traverse these stairs. I wasn't paying attention when I took my first step. I missed the first little step and slipped. I had a heavy ass duffel bag in my left hand that had CD's in it. So when I slipped, the weight of the bag pulled me forward. I go tumbling down in a forward flip motion. Halfway down, I manage to turn my body on my back and slide the rest of the way down. I smack my back on the bottom of the steps and knock the wind out of myself. Two thoughts enter my head as I'm laying there trying to catch my breath: Damn, did I fuck up my brand new sneakers? And, WHAT THE FUCK is someone going to think if they open that door and see a dude laying at the bottom of the stairs?
I laid there for what seemed like forever. I was finally able to pick myself up, check my sneakers (no damage), check myself, there's no cuts, but my fucking side is KILLING ME. I go over to the sink, wash my hands and face. I lift up my shirt and there is a GIANT fucking deep purple bruise on my side. At this point, it hurts to breath. I make my way upstairs and find Nasa. I told him I fell down the stairs. I wish you guys could have seen his face. It was like he was looking at a ghost. The crew were all standing around each other and he told them what happened. I showed them my bruise, they could not believe I was injured worse. The guys asked me if I was up for performing, there was no way I wasn't, fuck that.
In the pic above, my eyes look bugged because I couldn't breathe. Nasa delayed the show a bit so I could compose myself. My brother helped me back downstairs so I could lay down. By this time news of what happened started to travel around the club. Vast Aire and Karniege come downstairs and sit down. I get up and introduce myself. Vast Aire says, "Yo, SON! You're that dude that fell down the stairs and survived! You're a fucking LEGEND SON!" Now for those of you that know Vast, know his speaking voice is a slower version of his rap voice. So, this was hilarious to me. Vast and Karniege smoke me and my brother out (fucking epic), and we head back upstairs. I bump into Despot, who was a lot shorter than I expected because on record, he sounds like a giant. The first thing he MENTIONS when I say who I am is, "Oh shit, you're the dude that fell down the stairs!" So here I am meeting two of favorite my rappers, and the first impression they have of me is. I'm the dude that fell down the stairs. Fuck. At least I was high.
As you guys can see, there were some heavy hitters in this line up. And WE WERE FUCKING OPENING! We get on stage and I yell, "IS BROOKLYN IN THE HOUSE?!" The crowd is getting hype, so we start our set with a lay up of a song that we've been performing for years called S.E.L.L.S. This time we flipped and performed it over The Arsonists "14 Years Of Rap" instrumental. I'll embed the version from Yule Prog 3 below. But, on this night, I was high and so fucking hyped to be in Brooklyn performing, because at this time this was the high point of my career after hundreds of shows. Anyway, we were doing a song that we knew like the back of our hand because we couldn't fuck that up, right? NOPE. I'm so hyped I forget my verse. Thankfully, we crushed our set. Shit, everyone did that night. Vast Aire did joints from Cold Vein, Despot did songs he had just finished with Blockhead earlier in the day, Homeboy Sandman was incredible and for those in the know, know who and how incredibly gifted Zesto is.
W.AS.T.E.L.A.N.D.S. performs S.E.L.L.S. at Yule Prog 3 (Video Courtesy of: Uncommon Nasa)
The show was amazing and we all had a great time. As we were heading back to Nasa's, we picked up White Castle. Can't go wrong with that right? WRONG. These backward ass New Yorkers put ketchup on the White Castle burgers. Nah. After not dying in my sleep, Denku, my brother and I head out on the road. At this point, there's a blizzard coming. We get stuck in stand still traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike with no gas. We had to turn the car off and on as we were slowly moving along. Finally after an hour or so, we get gas. My brother suggests we get food since we might be on the road for a while. KFC here we come.
Denku and my brothers order come up right away. My order was going to take few minutes extra because I ordered a Popcorn Chicken bowl (gross). We go sit down because the cashier tells us she'll bring my food out. Cool. Ten minutes goes by and still no food. We turn around, no one is at the counter. My brother gets up and yells for someone. The cashier says she went on break before she made my food. My brother flips out on the cashier and she refunds my money (and probably spit in my food). As we're eating, I joke and say, "I should pay someone $50.00 to shit in the sink in the bathroom.
My brother says, "I'll do it." I told him I was just joking. He says, "Fuck that. They fucked up your food. We're going to be in the car for a long time, might as well have a funny story." I give him the fifty, we finish eating, me and Denku go get the car, my brother goes to the bathroom. We can see the bathroom from the car, and we see some guy knocking on the door. A few minutes later, my brother slides out of the bathroom, locking the door behind him and running to car like we just pulled a heist, laughing hysterically.
He gets in the car and we take off. He tells us when he tried to shit in the sink, it came out of the wall. He said he heard the guy knocking, freaked out, wiped his ass and dipped. He said the bathroom was destroyed. We laughed so hard, giggling like school kids hearing curse words for the first time. Because of the blizzard, it took us 20 hours to get home. But, KFC made that whole return trip worth it. The next years Yule Prog we weren't allowed downstairs. A week after Yule Prog 2, Positive K fell down those same stairs. After that, the venue didn't allow non employees down there. So, there it is ladies and gentlemen, the story about how I almost died at Yule Prog 2. Hope you enjoyed it. More stories are coming soon!