I went to the open stage that is predominantly hip hop. Usually takes place in Scarborough but once a month moves to Bathurst and Bloor. I have been 5 times and I’m the oldest person there. Wasn’t it just a moment ago I was the youngest person at Fat Alberts? These people are like how I imagined hippies 60 years earlier. They pepper their presentations with how grateful they are to each other and say things about peace and love in their hearts. Everybody hugs and after almost every song they give standing ovations – like every time.
It was late and they had to close but there was one more person who was suppose to play. A young guy who had never been here before. He sat down and started to talk about how moved he was to be here. He said a lot about his heart and the community and how he was going to bring all his fiends next time. He went on a long while. The person in charge had to interrupt him and remind him they have to close. He insisted he was almost done but he went back to repeating the same words and it sure felt tense, I was embarrassed for him. Everyone probably was wondering if this in fact was his performance, to lecture the crowd about how great they are… I expected someone would get hostile or at least heckle.
Then he was done and said he would recite some of his stuff acapella. It was machine gun speed rapping. People were immediately surprised and knocked out. My former student, Akeem, after a few minutes had to get up from his chair and walk to the back of the room to compose himself because the length of this guy’s rhymes were so unexpected and complicated, on par with Gorobei from Seven Samurai. The reason I go to these places is precisely for this unpredictable experience. To be absolutely surprised by what I thought was going on, to be absolutely wrong about it all.