Thursday, February 21, 2008

Jodeci hates me

Another oldie, but goodie that was specifically requested by a reader (see comments under the iLife post).

Back in the day, before I had a mortgage and a kid's college fund to feed, I wrote music reviews for the free weekly rag. It was cool. I got into all the shows, I knew some cool people who seemed like they were mildly famous and I could work in my skivvies from my home office. Making ten cents a word wasn't that cool and ultimately, I felt hollow criticizing other people's creativity rather than developing my own. So I quit.

As a weekly music reviewer, I mostly wrote previews for upcoming concerts, rather than reviews, which almost always got coverage by the big daily newspaper in town. Without having seen the current tour somewhere else first, previews are forced to rely upon the album said artists may be promoting and what you know about their past performances.

So when the Notorious B.I.G. came through Portland to play the Coliseum
(yes, this happened a while back), he was billed to perform with six or seven other acts, all of the "urban" persuasion, most of whom I didn't know much about. I'm a huge Biggie Smalls fan and while the other acts didn't quite appeal (Junior M.A.F.I.A, Mary J. Blige...) I was just psyched to pimp Big Poppa's visit.

And then I learned he wouldn't even be headlining. Instead, some new school R&B act, called Jodeci would hold court. Biggie playing second fiddle? It made no sense.

I did my job and gave Jodeci's CD a listen. They were
horrible. They were everything that's wrong with hip-hop - overproduced, synthesized poop with dudes harmonizing about "bitches" and their "gats". This was an injustice to pop music at the time. And I said as much in my column. I criticized the promoters for not understanding their audience and for not spotlighting the true talent of the night.

The article was submitted to my editor, the paper came out a week later and the show didn't take place for another five nights after that. I had all but forgotten what I wrote.

I came home late the night before the show and ran to answer a ringing phone.

"Hello," I said.
"Is this Geoff Abraham?" The man barked from the other end.
"Ummm, yes"
"I said, is this Geoff Abraham, motherfucker!"
"Not sure."
"Yo, bitch! You ever seen a Jodeci show?"
"Uhh, no."
"Well then, what the fuck are you talking all this shit about when you don't know shit about it?"

At this point in the conversation I tried to explain the bit about how we're a weekly publication and so we write previews instead of...

"I don't give a fuck about none of that."
"Well, what would you like from me," I asked.
"We know where you live."
"Are you coming here?"
"I said I know where you live motherfucker."
"I'm sure you do - I'm listed in the phone book. Are you coming here? Because
I'm leaving if you are."

And then the nice man hung up.

I went downstairs and checked my caller I.D. (high-tech at the time) and it read "The Mallory Hotel." I called the Mallory and asked if they had a band called Jodeci staying there. They refused to give out that information and then I explained my predicament. They still wouldn't give me the name of the group, but they did admit that a musical act, made up primarily of African Americans with a very large entourage was staying at the hotel.

I called the police who took my information. As I provided it, the other line rang. I clicked over.
"Yo, you get the cops involved and we're gonna beat yo ass down."

I clicked back over to the police.
"Thanks. I got it all settled, no need to bother."

My roomate and his girlfriend walked in the door right about then and I told them the whole story. They didn't believe me. And then the phone rang again. It was another call from the Mallory hotel. My roommate answered.
"Uh-huh. Uh-huh. No Geoff's not here. I'll let him know."

My roommate hung up the phone, grabbed his girlfriend and headed for the door.
"We're gonna crash at her house tonight. We'll leave the dogs with you. You should be fine."

I followed them out the door, with the dogs, and spent the night at a friends house.

Nothing ever came of all this excitement. But about a week after the show, which I sadly could not attend, a friend who did go, ran over to me at a local club.
"Dude, were you at that Biggie show last week?"
"Nah, was it any good?"
"You weren't there? Dude! Jodeci took the stage after Biggie rocked it. They took the mic and in front of a packed house, opened with, 'Yo! Fuck Geoff Abraham! And fuck Willamette Week!'"

I must admit, I was touched.

Ed. Note: My roommate at the time just reminded me, and would like it to be included here, that shortly before we evacuated the house, we all crouched down below the window line, hoping that the trajectory of potential gun fire would simply pass over our heads. I'm pretty sure that's standard operating procedure in a drive-by.


Anonymous said...

Can you please tell the story about when you supposedly pissed in the domino pizza guy's car.

Lefty Wahl said...

That's a good one. A little dated. Who's asking?

Anonymous said...

Yo, we STILL know where you live! You best be watchin' you back!

Mark said...

i could hear that story a thousand times.

Anonymous said...

hmmmmm. i heard it was big mike's....