It was a late fall day in Bridgeport, Connecticut listening to Angie Martinez on Hot 97 in New York. The days were short, and the sun began to set in the gritty northeastern city around 4 pm, just before the end of class, but making it very dark before dinner. Night I vaguely remembered from a childhood stint in New Jersey. At the time Wu-Tang still ran the local airwaves, along with Biggie and Bad Boy remixes. I infected the campus with the hometown sounds of Outkast, but this night, the light piano of Lonnie Liston Smith’s “A Garden of Piece,” wrapped this amazing opus from an unknown artist we had last seen on an appearance on Big Daddy Kane’s “Show & Prove.” Believe me I know, being a Wu-Tang fan from high school, I knew tracks they or affiliates, Shyheim, appeared on.
Again, I first heard the amazing “Dead President’s” which eventually accompanied the B-Side track, “Ain’t No,” closed out my tenure in school up north, as I thought I was listening to another underground regional artist the likes of Tracey Lee, Akinyele, etc. my homegirl waited, as I affected, sat and listened to the entire track, likely penning something as we most likely left her room, my hideout, before eventually landing at Famous Pizza.
Later, he would release an album, I heard that Biggie had appeared on the track, and my friend Myla Wyndham who was a buyer at Tower Records told me he was coming to the store. As a good friend and I attended, we walked past the empty table, scanned the album, laughed and then waving to her, I left, knowing I would see her during another visit. Little did I know.
Beginning school again in Atlanta, I befriended a pure Atlanta resident, who would play, “Reasonable Doubt,” nonstop. It was then that my appreciation grew for this unheralded artist. At this same school, I would meet the same girl that our conversation consisted of, the obvious as Reasonable Doubt played in her car as she dropped me off at Marta.
“Do you like Jay-Z?” I tried to break the ice.
“Yes,” she simply stated.