The spring of 9th grade meant an official breaking with my former boy band, the $mooth Adolescents. I was shocked we hadn’t “hit” and knew as hard as it was to say good by, it was time like my idol Bobby Brown to go solo. I was now 2-$mooth. 2-$mooth, the rap moniker was an enormous weight lifted off of my boney chest. The daunting question of what my rap alias would be had dogged me for years, once day it clicked. No matter what I did how difficult I made things they always clicked like a freestyle rhyme - serendipitously filling within that split of the atom topical words strung together that somehow rhyme. No more in high school would I be singing about Keeping It Together or I’m just a lonely teenage boy who needs some love those days like the $mooth Adolescents themselves were behind me.
Yo, I write lyrics in the classes I attend just to tolerate, plus I write sixty minutes a day in detention. My spiral notebook is filled with rhymes. I wished I lived in the hood yo. I just need a DJ
The new stuff was quality and different. It became my therapy. B-Dawg (manager) and Milner (adopted Korean Jew financer) loved it.
Hasan Yancy, a C house regular card player, Clarke kid and good friend had a big music connection I would just now learn of. Hasan or Hase was from the same neighborhood in Dorchester as Terrence and co. And he always had something up his sleeve. More con than correctional, we had already collaborated on at least one loop hole in language. Nothing got me up for the shady more than the good con and we always kept each other updated through our blatant disregard for school policy. He also had the very best connection a sixteen-year old young African American kid from Dorchester could have at that time – Donnie Wahlberg’s beeper #.
Further Hase explained his older brother and Donnie’s younger sib were starting a rap crew called the Funky Bunch. Hase’s older brother Terry, one quiet day while selling shoes somewhere in Boston a music manager, Mary, that was her name, anyway she had caught a buzz about his turntable prowess. She was representing Mark Wahlberg and he needed a black DJ and crew quick. And that was it - soon they were catching momentum locally and we would go to local TV sets like RTG and watch them perform tracks (Brick House) that never appeared on their first album Music for the People. In fact not one song out of the fifteen we had on that first demo appeared on the Music on the People which dropped six months later. I was close to something huge soon everyone would know. It wasn't until the fall of 10th grade when really strange things began happening we were able to exploit. That was fun.
And as luck would have it I bumped into Has in the hallway the same as any other. “Dam C you a crazy little fuck. I’ll squeeze ya! Who copped you yo first walkman?” “You, you’re the man Hase” “You know I flow, I just need beats.” The timeless problem back then for all aspiring rappers was access to original beats. And before the internet all’s we had were the flip side instrumentals on rap singles you copped for that purpose alone. “Oh Word i think i heard that?”
“Yo that’s what I’m sayen, it doesn’t matter. There’s already three separate bidders for the rights to Mark’s first album. They’ve ain't neva even released nothen. I got Donnie’s beeper number right here son, you see this?” “dam.” Is all one hundred and twenty five pounds of me could muster, Has was making a tremendous amount of sense while at the same time making me Fun-Dip hyper. I was thinking that it’s a good thing that Hassan’s bro was down with a white rapper. “Can you rap something now? You gotta be able to drop on spot son!” I loved performing.
“yeah yo, yo check it,, OK< drop, yo, a 2-$mooth an adolescent so let me begin a smooth righteous style that will make you grin. A new young jack comen full in the industry, do what you gotta do that’s my philosophy. A controversial dialogue possessing some intellect 2-$mooth drops a masterpiece inserting my concept, that if you get shit done, word gets around they say a smooth young one can only come from the underground. Fully equipped while exercising the mind 2-Smooth is a drug that o can prescribe, keep relaxing with the man of the hour, I don’t learn lessons but I learned to fight the power maken an impact with my smooth young mob and now steps forth a boy to do a mans job - yo, yo, yo, yo, smooth and young those are qualities I posses you want something done never settle for less try to fade the smooth clan I’ll send u out like a sucker , you boys punk crew or any mutha fucka! clocken my own style a 2-$motth p[roduction let's get it started don't need an introduction a righteous style I posses and the crtics i impress on the mike I finesse all the issues I address, AND ! that's it, mish mash ” “Oh shit nigga, so what you callen yourself? “2-smooth, with a dollar sign you know.” “Yes!” Hasan proclaimed and I jumped into his arms we were hyper. “OK, relax, everyone calm down, stop by tomorrow and we’ll put something down. I’ve reserved the music Mac lab for an hour, this computer shit in here is crazy. I can’t believe nobody uses this shit. I ca lay 48 tracks digitally, sick.”
The next afternoon nervous, I walked into my appointment with Hasan with the utmost of pretension securely in my pocket. We shake hands upon my entrance and Hasan asks, “you ready?” “Yeah yo, yeah. I’m good to go, yo.” It was a verse I’d been working on for the last couple weeks during classes. “Drop that shit yo.” Hasan aka MC Porno throws a disk in and I begin to speak after I let the beat loop itself a few times.
‘Trapped in isolation, scalen walls that I created far away from a society that I manipulated, lies in seclusion to you it’s an illusion to me it’s a young mind full of bull and confusion. Can’t gaze upon that cat cause I’ll start to cry. I drink myself dizzy tryen to figure out why? Why this boy, yo he did the things he did. And why is he labeled a lost cause when this cat is just a kid. Had a good mom, a good imagination on his shoulders had an imagination that could’ve moved boulders.”
And just like that the Don King smile out of Hasan thinking we might have something. “The GREAT WHITE HYPE!” He shouted. The truth was that my lyrics jumped off since I came up with moniker 2-$mooth. I had finally conceded the obvious fact that I couldn’t sing, like Willard in Footloose couldn’t dance, at all. I loved the name, the gang, the flow, it was all coming fast, I leaked the Hasan / DJ T, Markey Mark thing via B-Dawg to everyone and soon I received my first solo gigs which was a great reason to rock a bandana. I was back on with Jesus maybe I’d be famous young. After all after confidence life is all about who you know. Just ask Young Buck and Tony Ya Yo, Junior mafia and the Outlaw's, LOL.
Notes: I never was famous as a teenager - I'd soon believe with the Markey Mark explosions and DJ T beats being filtered down to us, we had a shot. I knew Has would be the perfect famous kid, put a whole new spin on it. In fact I thought if we hit, Has would be arguably the coolest handed teenager of all time. But it was right there on the cusp and that's a good place to be.
But rap and dance has stayed with me forever and opened doors and friendships. I'd never blow or blip on the map as the dysfunctional renegade 2-$mooth but I still got to bowl in the white house. Got to see my boy win a Superbowl, who'd we'd followed with a camera for three years. I got to hang out with DJ Premier for a decade, froze with him at Pittsburgh for the AFC championship game against Baltimore. The Q's are my brothers. I got to rap in Austin Texas with them at SWXSW - Ziggy Marley was right behind us on the stage smiling. I got to rap in New York multiple occasions and continue freestyle the world and back on the regular. It seems it's one of my few talents people will have me, never say no to a stage. Maybe it all stems from that mysterious disorder I inherited that made it hard to pay attention too. Been 1 fantastic carpet ride for sure. It's funny when I look back the freestyle as c-rat not Charlie Paradise is the gift that keeps giving. Big Shout's to Spec for bringing me up on the ghetto boys.
OH and I married the women of my dreams. Keepen it fairy tale.
And I still rap, write, therapy, idle time you know mannn! Esp. in Lex Vegas, buy a T-shirt, rest assured it's straight from the Fridge, Daddy-o. I like open mikes and street performances. Enjoy the Olympics and oh join me and say , everyone, now, GO OTHELLO, THE REMIX IN SCOTLAND - Our boys the house band @ GDD, THE RETAR CREW are at it again in bigger better WAYS...
Excerpt is from Legendes. Part of an on going series about years spent coming up in Lex Vegas meant to help promote METCO and the YG Foundation. We hope to publish it on-line in it's entirety under Charlie Paradise.