BucktownUsa

TourLife: Things Passed and Things To Come

Written on April 3, 2016.

As I sit here staring out the window to an open field, I began to reflect on things passed and things to come. I am currently on a musical tour with my teammates and brothers Tek, Logic and Rock. Tek, Logic and myself started in the UK where we would spend the next 6 days, 5 of which we would be performing, dubbing this part of the tour, #SmifnWessunUKTour2016. We would then meet with Rock in France where we would spend the remainder of the tour together, dubbing this part of the tour #BootcampClikEuropeanInvasion.

The first stop was Manchester, U.K. The flight was pleasant not to mention I was still a little saucy from the day before. I cracked a few jokes then pretty much slept the entire flight. When we arrived we were the very last to go through the border patrol, save these two guys who look like they were there since yesterday, other than that we were the last men standing. They had to check our work permits, then we were on our way.

Tek asked the customs agent what the weather was like and he reluctantly replied, “it’s dry”. If anybody is familiar with London then you know it pretty much rains everyday. Upon exiting we met this slim, lanky fella with reddish hair and tones. He approached us calmly and introduced himself. “I’m Tish”, he said. I immediately thought, thats a girls name but I kept it to myself. He asked us how the flight was and we replied, “cool”. 

We’re not really ones for small talk, especially after a long flight. We just wanna get to the hotel, get food and possibly some rest before the show. We were pretty hungry so we went for food at a place called the Glasshouse, located in the hotel. I kept it simple with a beer battered cod fish and fries and a shrimp in garlic sauce appetizer. It was amazing. I then went to my room to prep for tonights show. 

My room was cozy, had a nice decor and a beautiful view of the city. This was in total contrast to where and how I spent my last days prior to coming to the U.K. The view out of my bedroom window is of construction sites with condos being erected for prospective tenants. There are three separate sites directly across the street from me. I witnessed most of the process, from the demolition to the first concrete being set. One of the three is scheduled to be done by the end of 2016 while the other two are scheduled to be done in 2017. 

Manchester, UK

Manchester, UK

Park Slope, Brooklyn

Park Slope, Brooklyn

There is also construction being done in my co-op building as well. We're getting a makeover consisting of new walls, doors and floors. It’s a lot of work not to mention a lot of noise. I was glad to leave that behind and looked forward to the solace of whatever hotel room I would be occupying for the next few weeks. 


When I finally got to my hotel room, I got my gear together then I laid down and went to sleep. About an hour or so later the guys knocked on my door to go to soundcheck. I declined and decided to stay in my room and get some extra rest, I needed to reserve some energy for tonights show and the long trip ahead. The last tour we had, I had a rough time. I lost my voice toward the end and on occasion, battled with fatigue. I was not gonna have that problem this time.

When they came back from soundcheck, Logic gave me the rundown on the venue and what time we were gonna be leaving. He also bought me a plate of some Indian curry chicken and rice platter. I was still full from earlier so I put that aside and went back to rest. 

Tish, the road manager for the UK dates, gave each of us a copy of the itinerary. He also blessed me with a little something extra gaining immediate favor in my eyes (laughs).

He was a younger kid, late twenties, early thirties. He had a calm demeanor and although he lived in Bristol, he didn’t have the heavy English accent. He later revealed that he was born in Canada and even lived in Asia for ten years as a kid. He mentioned that his dad is a Buddhist. I thought this must be the explanation for his balanced demeanor. I initially thought he was just a stoner (laughs). He later proved to be much more.

The first show was at Band On The Wall. When you enter, you have to go through the bar, many of the patrons saw us come in and immediately got excited. We continued to the backstage that was set up for us. I was still a little groggy so I went to the bathroom put some water on my face, poured a shot of Hennessy, “10 minutes”, the stage manager yelled out. 

The show was on and it was intense. The crowd was massive and I was overcome by an immense surge of energy. I didn’t realize what it was until we arrived at the part of our set where we do a dedication to rap artists that passed away, two of which happen to be our beloved brothers, Sean Price and most recently Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest

When Logic put the Tribe song on something hit me right in my chest. It became hard to swallow and I just dropped my hands and head while my body went into a trancelike (head nod), this was followed by Sean Price’s Onion Head and I almost lost it. Phife Dawg passed away only days ago. Prior to the tour, I got a text from my friend Mike informing me of Phife’s untimely death and I was immediately stricken by the news. I remember replying, “c’mon man”, in a text message.  I didn’t want to believe it. Just a few days prior to hearing that news, I learned that a very dear friend of mine had lost his long grueling bout with cancer. 

My friends name is John John or Ginsu to many of us who knew him in the street. Embarrassingly the last time I seen Ginsu was 8 months ago at Sean Price’s funeral service. When I learned of his passing not only did it hit me hard, but it opened up the still fresh wound from the death of Sean Price. Ginsu’s funeral would be held the 22nd of March, the day before we were scheduled to start our tour. 

 

March 22nd was also my god daughter, Mckayla’s birthday. Shaun, the 8 year old daughter of Sean Price, birthday had just passed on the 18th which happens to be one day after her fathers birthday. We had just did a party in New York at The Delancey to celebrate Sean Price’s birthday. It was just a party but many of his friends came out as if to see him perform one last time. 

 

There were artist and family alike. I was glad to see members of our Decepticon family like Raquel, Spanky, Venom, Skywarp and P-Wop just to name a few. These people love Sean and I could sense their emptiness without him being there as I was experiencing it myself. In addition, the news of Ginsu’s death was extremely fresh as it came just the day before. I didn’t want to party but I didn’t want to not celebrate the life of my friend with friends. 

L,R Bo Black, Rudis, Stuck B, Cleqout, Rob, Petro, Giambi, Top Dog

L,R Bo Black, Rudis, Stuck B, Cleqout, Rob, Petro, Giambi, Top Dog

 

I thought I was gonna be able to attend for a short while and leave but I didn’t leave until much later. I had two drinks in the club but I had been drinking earlier in the day in an unwavering attempt to drown my sorrows. By the end of the night, my boy, Louie was wasted (laughs). He forgot where we parked and he needed the entire sidewalk to walk as he zig zagged up the block toward us. I wondered if this is how I look when I’m hammered. 

We headed back to Brooklyn as I peered out to the East River, blanking out the irritating sounds of my drunken friend. Cyn was a little tipsy too as she belted out, “I’m hungry, I’m gonna get some lasagne”, which slowly turned to a melodious jingle. I continued to look out the window reflecting on the nights events as we crossed the bridge. I was attempting to mask my emotions but I am not as good at it as I wanted to be, that night. Needless to say Cyn never got that lasagne as she passed out onto the couch. I cut a small piece of lasagne for myself and ate silently reflecting on the things passed and the things to come


In two days we were scheduled to go to Texas to perform at SXSW music conference which happened to fall on the exact day of Sean Price’s birthday. The plan was to do a tribute to Sean, so, Rockness, Ruste Juxx, Illa Ghee and even Bernadette were all in attendance. It was Bernadette's first time ever getting on an airplane. I may have been more excited than she was. We sat together, joked and laughed the entire flight, probably annoying a few people. 

Although we were in a jovial mood, I think we all were trying to mask how and what we were truly feeling, anger, pain, frustration, to scratch the surface. I was blasting off about irrelevant topics that only I thought was important which in turned annoyed the people I was with.

I still hadn’t seen Tek yet because he was flying in from Virginia. I admit I was a little nervous and tense, but that eased a bit when we got to the venue.

It was huge. Nas was set to be the headliner. We would be sharing the stage with him, Manny Fresh, Just Blaze, Large Professor, Yo Gotti, Dj Khaled, Trae the Truth, Dave East and a host of others. 

It was pretty chaotic as you had security volunteers trying to control the crowds of artist and entourage as they entered and exited the backstage area. They eventually found a room for us by the stage, 10 minutes later it was showtime. I wish we could’ve went over the set again, but it wasn’t time for that, it was time to go to work. 

Rock kicked it off followed by Smif-N-Wessun then Buck with some of the other Duck Down artist weaved in-between. It was a tad bit sloppier than it should’ve been in my opinion but we pulled it together for the finish. I don’t think any of us was our normal selves as I looked at my partners they all looked how I felt, misplaced, emotional and maybe even a little disheveled. We all have been through so much within the last few months not to mention days, which I admit put an emotional strain on me to say the least .

We pulled through the show satisfying the handful of diehard fans scattered amongst the collective. This wasn’t one of our better shows by no means.

When we got off stage we were ushered towards a VIP which was located one floor up. Dru Ha and Noah had purchased this amazing cake to present to Bernadette in addition to a specialized Sean Price box set. 

The plan was to cut the cake in VIP but security gave us such an issue that it was a turn off. When we got to VIP there was no accommodations. It look like where you dump the leftovers. Why are we up here, I thought, why are we being treated like we didn’t just get off that stage. At that moment I see a familiar face in Brainiac Beats. We started to kick it then I started to get restless. I suggested we leave and meet up with Mic Handz. 

Mic Handz invited us to this mini mansion he rented out for the music festival. He also had two events he was running out there. As we were leaving these guys noticed me and began to comment how much they respect Smif-N-Wessun and the Bootcamp Clik. They were a part of the few die hards that were scattered amongst the collective (laughs).

Upon exiting we were shuffled in all different directions by the security volunteers, some of which were rude, others confused, either way we finally made it out to where the crowd was and so started the melee. It was cool because we got to see a few more of the die hards and even take a few pictures with some folks who just enjoyed our performance. It took the sting out of the less responsive people in the crowd.

Tek was riding with some people I never met before as was Rock so it was just Bernadette, Illa Ghee and myself with Tank, the driver while Buckshot went back to the hotel. I had to convince Tank to drop us off at the mansion and stay for a while to secure we had a ride back. He insured me that he would stay for an hour then he had to get back to his young sons. “I can respect that”, I replied. 

The mansion was a nice sized house located in this secluded culdasac, reminiscent of the Hamptons or some exotic places in Florida . It was beautifully peaceful and serene, until we entered the mansion of course (laughs). Mic Handz did his thing this time I thought. Upon entering my eyes went straight to the back patio doors which led to a pool. I was like, “ahhhh shiiiit, Now this is living”. 

There were two women in the kitchen chefing it up, they were part of Handz’s team and they was throwing down. It was assorted bottles of liquor and weed being rolled, this was my kinda scene. It definitely was a nice spread. Handz then gave me the official tour which revealed the true luxury of the dwelling, I was proud that Handz was able to pull this off as I know it was a big move and a great look for him.

Bernadette and Illa ate food while I went out on the patio to smoke. I was too excited to eat. Shortly after, Ruste Juxx arrived followed by Rock. Tek never did show up. We ate food, drank, smoked, talked sh*t, rapped, etc., I honestly did not want to leave to be stuck up in a hotel room watching whatever salvageable programming on the television. Tank had to leave, he went well passed the hour he promised and I was grateful. I was able to finagle a ride back for Bern and I, the rest is a blur.

We had a connecting flight back to NY as opposed to the straight way in which we came and Tek was on a totally different flight. I wasn’t used to that, it felt awkward. He was flying separate from the rest of and he was scheduled to reach Laguardia before us. The rest of us had a five hour layover which meant that we would spend that entire day in transit. Bernadette is flying with us and it just happens to be her daughter, Shaun’s birthday. Unfortunately they would only get to see each other via FaceTime. 


When I got home the whole day was over. I ate some chicken and salad prepared by Cyn, smoked a spliff and had a few shots of cognac. I didn’t even unpack I just sat on the couch reflecting on the events that occurred and the ones that have yet to materialize, the things passed and the things to come.

I wanted to take my god daughter Mckayla to the circus along with Shuan and Elle’vyn, my other god daughter. Unfortunately the circus had left the city so I had to be creative. Cyn informed that she had made plans with Nicole, Mckaylas mom, which was surprisingly short notice for me but there was no other window to see the girls so we decided to have a small gathering for them. I called Bernadette to let her know the plan and bring Shaun over, “we on our way”, she replied. 

 

Each one of these young girls are special in there own right but what they share in common is that they currently lost a major figure in each of their lives, their father. Shaun's dad passed away, whereas the other two girls lost their fathers to the penal system. Both of them are currently serving time in the penitentiary. It was a big strain on me, one I wouldn’t realize until the first day we arrived on UK soil. 

Since the death of Sean I have been angry, sad and a bevy of undesirable emotions. I can only imagine what that little girl must think and feel. I feel selfish to even consider my feelings. Shaun is her fathers daughter, strong yet emotional, a sweetheart to boot. As is Mckayla and Elle’vyn, they are all daddy babies and I hurt for them having to endure this precious time without there heralded champion, DAD. 

So we had a small gathering. Moon brought Elle’vyn and her youngest son Optimus, who is definitely a daddys baby. He doesn’t mess with anybody! (laughs). Bern brought Shaun and Nicole brought the rest of the party, Mckayla, Keefie, the eldest, Brandon, Baby D and King, the baby. It was the first time any of them would meet, this was gonna be special, I thought, but wait what if they don’t like each other, all sorts of thoughts ran thru my head. I can only smile as I think back to that weekend, they had a ball and we didn’t even do anything crazy. It was just family, food and fun. I was in heaven but they was driving me nuts too. Man I had so much fun. I needed that. They were a breathe of fresh air (breathes), a break from the rap monotony. 

 

When the last parent came to get her kids I sat in silence and began to reflect on things passed and things to come, I missed them already. 

Mckayla’s birthday is actually on March 22nd which was the day before we were set to leave for the tour. It was also the day off Ginsu’s funeral service. I was an emotional wreck. I was supposed be preparing to leave for the overseas tour but I had an obligation. I started drinking early that day which basically ended the same way with me passing out somewhere thats not my home. 

I stayed out way to late now I have to scramble to get my things together. Luckily I started picking gear out weeks ago. I made good time. Oh I forgot to mention, the day before, there were terrorist attacks performed in at least two separate places, one being Brussels. I started to get calls from friends expressing their concern. “Y’all not going over there are you”, one of my friends inquired. “Nah we good”, I assured him. 

Tek suggested we leave earlier to anticipate any extra time at security. We actually got through smoothly and arrived promptly at our gate. “Now boarding Delta Flight 420 to Manchester, London ”, It wasn’t a full flight and I had a window seat in the emergency row, talk about a come up (laughs). Anyway, the liquor and my nerves began to settle and I was sleep well before the plane even took off (laughs). I was burnt out and I needed this trip outside the box. Before I passed out I took time to look across the tarmac and began to reflect on things passed and things to come. 

 

By General Tony Steele

4/3/16

 

MY TIME IN EUROPE part1: THE CITY OF MONTREUX

Today is Sunday October 25th. On Thursday the 22nd we flew out to Zurich Switzerland from John F Kennedy Airport for a 2 and half week tour. Tek and I just returned from Europe a few weeks ago but this time we go out with Buckshot. We were on a 2 week run where we visited Barcelona, Madrid and Vitoria which is in Spain. We then moved on to Poland for a week and we finished in London. That run was a little challenging for us as we had to switch up our normal regiment, needless to say we accomplished the mission but not without a few glitches.

I've been looking forward to this trip since the last one partly because the obstacles that we overcame on that particular trip gave me the confidence to take on whatever the next mission would be. To be honest, I was thinking nothing could be worst than what we just went thru but in all fairness, it wasn’t all bad there just were a few turbulent moments.

I made sure to pack all the necessities in advance. I always manage to leave something behind no matter how much I plan ahead. This time was gonna be different so I thought. For the most part I had all angles covered. I was looking forward to performing with Buckshot and Tek and I was anxious to leave New York . I was getting a bit overwhelmed by some of the nonsense that goes on in my day to day and I was in dire need of a break from it all. 

The flight on Delta was great. I pretty much slept thru the majority of it. I missed dinner but I woke up in time for breakfast. The flight time was 7 1/2 hours. I think I slept for about 5 hours. We also had tvs in the headrest so we were able to watch our own personal programming. This was useless to me but I was able to catch a good 40 minutes of AntMan and it was actually pretty good. I have to be honest I don’t think I would’ve seen it otherwise. Im not a real big Antman fan but I love most things Marvel. Its one of the movies you have to watch on a plane. 

The flight was smooth. We arrived and went thru customs without a problem. Our ride was a Suburban which looked like it may have been from 2005 or so . it was a special edition. I have to point this out because the last trip Tek and i was on was a rough one as i mentioned before.

We had a packed flight with no tv and no catering services for 7 1/2 hours, it was atrocious. Guess we can be a bit spoiled but we couldn't predict the lack of hospitality and professionalism not to mention space. We were jammed seat to seat, knee to knee, elbow to elbow. Our current flight on Delta was much better and more accommodating. It wasn’t a full flight so we were able to stretch out even more.

We arrived on time and our ride was on time and they both spoke some english which was fantastic. On the last trip we had a few issues with the language barrier particularly when we arrived in Madrid. Our driver and his partner spoke absolutely no English and we pretty much were dropped at the hotel with little to no information until it was time to go to the venue. 

On our current excursion we were instantly treated with respect and greeted with hospitality in the form of mary jane. What better way to end a long flight (laughs). We had approximately a 2 hour drive to the city of Montreux. We've never been to this city before.  We were staying in the Old City of Montreux. It looks like something out of a fable. The architecture was stunning. I can hear Cynicals voice in my head, urging me to absorb as much as possible and take advantage of my experiences. I began to film whatever I could. On the last trip I managed to leave my converter for my camera so I was unable to transfer footage and I had to minimize what I was able to capture. Needless to say I missed a lot of amazing sights.

I was determined to document this trip. I thought it would be cool to keep a journal of our experience as things happened in real time. Right now we are on a train headed to Winterthur. We have an early performance tonight. This is day three and the third show and all is going well. I must admit its awkward performing without our usual deejay Logic, I miss his element. We have this guy from Berlin filling in who's pretty good. His name is Figub or Mario. It took me two days to learn how to say his name. He is cool though. He hung out with Tek and I after the show last night.

IMG_6143.jpg

After our concert we got the word that Young Guru was spinning in the same town. We thought is was only right to stop by and kick it with him and just vibe out to some New York tunes. He got busy on the turntables as usual. Tek and I went with the Figub and a few guys we met at our show while Buck stayed back at the hotel. 

I have to point out that we had been drinking Hennessy at our event and when we arrived at the following event we were downing Vodka and Red Bull mixtures. Figub had a tough time getting up the next morning but at least we didn’t miss our train. The show in Montreux went well and the venue in Meyrin was pretty dope as well. The club was pretty sexy, it was designed sort of like a pit and there was a huge screen on the side wall. There where three guys operating cameras streaming to the screen. Normally this is only done at large festivals so it was a nice addition. 

The promoters for both shows were very cool. They took care of the business and kept us updated on all current movements. We had very little to be concerned about and we were able to concentrate on the task at hand. 

Even the food was pleasant. At least Tek and I enjoyed our first dinner in Montreux. Buck on the other hand had to adjust his order. He initially ordered the crab and the seafood pasta. The crab was this monstrousscavenger which I immediately knew was going to be a problem. Buck is a particular eater some may even say picky. At the time he was outside taking in the sights. I said to Tek,” wait till Buck sees this crab.” I had to get his reaction on camera.

When Buck entered the restaurant his eyes focused on this creature which was to be his food and he made the exact response I had predicted. He took one look at this odd looking delicacy and uttered confusingly, “what the …..” Tek and I immediately started to laugh. We have had many experiences with Buck and his choice of food so we were prepared to be entertained.

Tek and I both ordered the seafood salad which was awesome . It came with small clams, mussels, shrimp and squid. I also had a tomato cream soup which was amazing. Buck was having minor issues. He totally was not going to eat the crab and his seafood pasta had the same seafood we had in our salad. Buck was not a fan of the assorted seafood so he chose to take out everything except the shrimp. The waitress was trying to persuade him to try the crab but was unsuccessful. Tek and I actually tried it and it was pretty good and very fresh maybe a little too fresh for Bucks’ taste (laughs)

After dinner we went to see some of the sights. The Old City of Montreux is beautiful. It is a mix of old chateau homes blended with some modern architecture. Our escort stated that we were in a very culturally rich part of the city. We actually went to visit an old castle at a place called Chateau De Chillon. I took a few pics then we went back to the hotel. Normally we don’t get to see the sights when we travel due mostly to time restraints but this trip would be different. I planned on taking advantage of whatever free time was available and I was determined tho document this trip.

The hotel in Montreux was the Tralala. It was a famous hotel frequented by many musicians. Montreux hosts an annual jazz festival in the summer. The hotels decor reflected the soul of the establishment. There werepictures of famous musicians on every wall. There was a huge photo of the late great BB King right behind reception. When we arrived they made us complimentary tea making us feel at home immediately. The rooms were more modern. It was designed like these new micro rooms. Everything was small and quaint which was cool because we all had our own space. 

It worked for what we needed and the vibe was cool. I had this enormous picture of this singer performing live at a concert staring at me from the wall adjacent to my bed. It was a little weird but it was cool it didn't trip me out too much. The entire design was small and then you have this oversized photo of this guy singing to you right in front of your bed, freaky (laughs).

Needless to say I enjoyed my stay there. In the city of Meyrin it was slightly different. We stayed by the airport so we were a bit secluded. The hotel was the Nash Airport Hotel. The design was also small but it was comfortable. I slept like a baby. The food was on point too. In the early part of the day I had grilled salmon and in the evening after the show, we all had baked chicken and rice.

On the drive from Montreux to Meyrin we took a slight detour to enjoy some of the magnificent scenery. Our escort took us to this cliff overlooking a huge vineyard and a few cottages. It also overlooked a body of water that stretched to an island of mountains. The view was breathtaking. We began to joke about how miniature we are in the global spectrum. We also wondered what kind of species could be living atop those mountains. Would we finally get to see the Yeti (laughs)

We had a blast. So here we are now at day three riding the train for 3 1/2 hours. The scenery is tranquil. It provides a perfect reading or writing atmosphere plus we didn’t have to go thru security or board a plane with all this heavy luggage. It's a change in the norm but I welcome this break in monotony. Planes, trains and automobiles.

We have approximately an hour left so I am going to film some the sights and then maybe read some pages of the 48 Laws of Power. Stay tuned for more to come. 

 

General Steele