"All I did was give a muthafucka a pound and a compliment and I was out. Told'em my name. Peace." - Guru, "Intro (The First Step)" from the album Hard To Earn
As a teenager yearning to be "on" in the mid 90's these were words to live by, straight from the mouth of a hip-hop legend. As a youngster, I heard this speech for the first time in the front seat of my mom's car coming from the midnight release Gang Starr had at the Tower Records on Sunset Blvd. I was in LOOOOVE with their new single "Massappeal." I mean, had triples of it on vinyl and would play it over and over every morning before school.
So after a month or so of that my big homie DJ Rob One (RIP), a rep for EMI at the time, told me they would be doing a midnight release. I immediately start begging moms. She conceded. I'm sure only after I did heaps of extra chores. The big night comes I run into the store, buy the album. Thank my mom, she was now "the greatest mom ever!!" of course. Smiling in her face, knowing that I would be disappointing her a mere 8 hrs later.
You see, me and my boy Jedi already had plans to ditch school the next morning and go to the official Gang Starr meet and greet/signing at the Wherehouse. Anyway, being the awesome parent she is. My mom wants to hear this new CD that has her up at midnight and her usually melancholy teenage son bursting with joy.
I put it in and as I'm hearing these infamous "words to live by" all she hears is the word "muthafucka" more than 3 times in less than a 45 so she snatches it out and starts going ballistic. "She can't believe" this "Never has she heard" that and it went on and on the whole ride home. The whole time I'm just thinking "Ok, when you meet Guru tomorrow you must follow these new rules. A pound, a compliment, your name the peace get the fuck out of there."
I'll never forget that night and how after that I stayed up listening to it in the dark. Still happy even though moms bugged out. And to this day it's one of my favorite albums. Years later, I'd be opening up for him on tour with Atmosphere in Canada. A "real rapper" now, I wanted to still follow these rules. I didn't pester him I just played it cool. A pound, some respect and that was it.
What I did do though, was try to put on the show of a lifetime. I don't even think it was a conscious effort. But somewhere inside of me, I knew Guru was watching. Lol. So when it came to the part of my show where I would usually do the splits. Smh. I had to take it to the bridge. Usually it was just a spin and then a drop into the splits. But this was a "special" night so I jumped up as I high as I could and landed in the splits. My god it hurt like hell! I bruised my tail bone and barely made it through my set. I couldn't even sit down in the tour van. For the next two weeks I had to lay down face first on one of the bench seats
All that to say, true greatness inspires everyone around them. Even if his greatness inspired me to ditch school or injure myself. I know that I'm better for it. The times I did meet him he was a cool humble cat. Never once did I rush him with that "remember me" or "listen to my demo" bullshit. Why? Cuz he taught me better than that. And a lot of you upcoming cats could stand to learn a lot from this man. You can start by going out and getting Hard To Earn. The man can teach you volumes. The intro alone has changed my life. Thank you and Rest In Power GURU.