Life has an interesting way of placing certain people in your path. Sometimes the reason is right in front of you and other times, it takes a years to figure out why you may have met someone. No, I'm not about to talk about my long lost love, but in a way I am. See, long ago when I was a young children, I fell in love with hip-hop.
As an 80s children [technically born in 1978] my ears experienced a transformation that still can't be described to this day as music technology underwent a rapid evolution and the soundscape refreshed itself daily. MTV and VH1 ruled cable television and radios were only playing top 40, so the first time I heard Cool Moe Dee, I nearly wet my pants. I literally said out loud, "what in the world is this? I didn't know you could play drums like that." Then it was as if the flood gates opened and suddenly there was the Fat Boys, then Run DMC, then LL - and the list goes on. My ears would never be the same for me as a young children.
From the impressionable age of 7 until sometime this afternoon, my brain was consumed with a drum cadence - a boom bap. Yes, I loved rap, but I didn't want to be a rapper. Instead, I just wanted to make the beats that rappers rapped over. As a result of not having a clue and also living in locations where the hip hop culture wasn't really present, I missed out on a lot. I didn't have a local electronics shop on the corner selling the latest drum machine or friends with music equipment. Instead, I had the human beat box [which for years, I called the human bee bops] and any hard hollow surface I could find.
I drove my mother nuts. That was until the day the radio went out in her Renault when we were making our final move to Myrtle Beach from Salisbury, NC. Somewhere around Cheraw we lost Power 98 [out of Charlotte] and I was called to mic. I hit her with everything I had and bee bopped for 4 damn hours without stopping. It was just me, her and my baby brother riding in a red Renault on southern backroads and highways.
Over the years, I met a lot of people as I pursued my passion for music - too many to name. We explored everything from using mics on boom boxes to record vocals over our tapes, to scratching James Brown records on book shelf stereo systems. I even joined the school band and played drums in church just because I couldn't shake the music in my head and had to get it out. The journey has been interesting.
In college, I kept to myself. I was focused and maintained a social life that came a distant second to my education and student leadership responsibilities, so when I entered the world of college radio with my best friend Dave, it was weird for me. How can I be me and keep a clean image, but hang out with all the rappers who drink, smoke, chase girls and live that life. Yes, I had stereotyped a group of people, but in my own defense, you just had to be there. In the first few years of our show, we kept things simple, but entering our third year, we decided the show needed a spark.
After careful consideration Dave and I started inviting rappers to the station to perform on the air.
Initially, I was a nervous wreck because I didn't want any of the performers going on live air and violating FCC policy [because I was such a big stereotyper]. We also hadn't figured out how to use the recording equipment so everything had to be live. There was no room for error. But more so, I had a problem.
I had a belief that rappers couldn't be professional or respect the station policies and guidelines. I maintained this belief thanks to observing a few slip ups at open mic nights and local performances in the area. However, Dave assured me we would keep it clean and that he had some good guys coming up for our first show under our new format.
About 10 minutes before we were going live with our first show, the light started flashing; signaling a guest at the front door of the studio. We open the latch and in walks a small crew of guys. I knew most of them from around campus, but I didn't know the white kid. Dave introduced him as Jersey and I realized that he was the guy everyone on campus was buzzing about. The word was, Jersey was sick on the mic and had a decent basketball game too.
We started the she and the moment Jersey's name hit the air waves, our phone lines blew up and he was immediately challenged by a campus rapper who will remain nameless [maybe]. Needless to say, Jersey accepted the challenge and my moment clarity occurred. I remembered why I fell in love with hip hop and also that stereotyping is only going to limit my perspective in life. Every word that came out of Jersey's mouth was audio gold! His voice box and brainwaves should be studied by hip-hop neurologists or donated to science when he dies.
His delivery was raspy but articulate, his body transformed into a rap machine and it he told a story to that mic that created a vacuum of silence in the studio when he was done followed by an explosion of yelling, ooooohs and damns!!! Jersey ripped Chavis on the mic [ooops, did I slip]!
From that moment on, I was a fan of Jersey a.k.a. ShoreShot.
The show had what it needed! Energy - the kind that only hip-hop can produce. We enjoyed success that year and had a blast doing it. But other things also happened.
ShoreShot was a professional. He kept his lyrics clean on the air, always showed up early before our shows, and arrived on time for any meetings we had. He always smiled and greeted others with a sincere kindness - he was the cool guy that acknowledged the "not so cool guy" and made him feel cool. Simply put, ShoreShot changed my perspective on how a beast of a rapper can be a beast of a professional and a good person.
ShoreShot and I actually walked in the same graduation ceremony in 2003. I was finishing my Master's and he was wrapping up his Bachelors. Unfortunately we lost touch shortly afterwards[Mark Zuckerberg was still playing Pokemon with his middle school classmates], but I never forgot about the notion of making more hip-hop with him.
Recently, we reconnected on Facebook and I'm ashamed to admit it, but I had only heard his government name once and couldn't remember it. So I was really excited when he shared this post on a friend's wall. I immediately reconnected with ShoreShot and started reviewing all of his music links and am glad to report hip-hop is alive and well with ShoreShot. But not only is he still grinding on the mic, he is still a professional that I can respect and who debunks stereotypes of hip-hop artists; as evidenced by his recent efforts to help rebuild the Jersey Shore following Hurricane Sandy.
The following single Sho Love by ShoreShot is available on iTunes, with every cent going towards Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts. His new video tells a story about rebuilding and recovering from devastation and gives his first hand look at the devastation. In this video you see the community rallying together and everyone doing their part. Images of citizen banding together are accompanied by the sound of the RobMS Children's Choir singing the hook to round out the soundscape and remind the listener that we always have to keep our legacy close at heart for the sake of future generations.
Hip-Hop has always and will forever be for the people that created it - the hard workers, the hustlers, the person starving, the person without a home, the person searching for their voice in a world that often rejects them. It gives hope and a reason to be heard. How fitting that the same voice that changed my perspective is still representing the core values of hip-hop and lifting up his community.
Whether you know him as Patrick, Jersey or ShoreShot, he's taking good care of hip-hop and I encourage everyone to support his initiative.
Disclaimer: Steve is an employee of Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner, however the views expressed in this post are of my own.