My Musical Journey (Part 2)
After writing part 1, I realized a couple things. One, I skipped some things. I looked at the release date of the iPod I got… It wasn’t until late 2007. Two, my musical journey was a lot longer than I expected. To tell it right, it will need a 3rd part. The first few years that followed ’07 were what I would consider the golden years of my musical prime as far as consumption and creation. Having said all that, the end of part 1 was 2001.
I’ve got 6 years to catch you up on in My Musical Journey part 2. 2001 and 2002 were a couple of years where my taste in music started to take shape. Still watching MuchMusic, I heard Afroman for the first time and I was instantly a superfan. I still think The Good Times was snubbed at the 2002 Grammy’s. He should have won album of the year! Oh Brother, Where Art Tho? Soundtrack? Come on.
To me, The Good Times is a top 10 album. I didn’t need an iPod yet. My friend Mike G burned me a copy of the classic CD and I was set. I was a kid living in the suburbs of Toronto and my favourite artist was Afroman. Up until this point, my love for music was as a listener. That changed when I heard Afroman.
He made me want to write a “Crazy Rap.” With a couple friends, we wrote our own version and performed it at 7/11 for free Slurpies. It was about a couple of 11 year olds and their sexcapades around town.
After Afroman (AA), came a lot more rap music. It was the early 2000s. TI, Ludacris, Jay-Z and Cam’Ron were some of my favourite artists. Every night I’d get home and I’d flip to BET. This is all happening around ’03. That was the heyday of Big Tigger on Rap City and AJ & Free on 106 & Park. The freestyles in the booth and Freestyle Fridays were dope. Do you remember Jin?
In 2004, a rapper-producer named Kanye West dropped The College Dropout. He was the first rapper “with a Benz and a backpack.” I still didn’t need an iPod. A CD player that could play those 21 songs was enough. The way he combined conscious rap with the materialistic side of hip-hop had never been done. There hasn’t been a rap album that has change the course of the genre in the same way.
If you disagree, let me know, I’d love to discuss it with you.
For the next few years, I went back and did my research on older rap music: Mos Def, Common, Guru, Tribe, Ice Cube, Snoop, Dre, etc. I’m definitely a bigger fan of the East Coast when it comes to 90s hip-hop. After performing for free Slurpies, I took a break from writing my own raps. That stopped when I heard a rapper from London, Ontario who referred to himself as the “Old Prince.”
For the mid to late 2000s, hip-hop was 80% or more of what I listened to. Bringing it back to my quest to become better than Jay, I bought a dollar store microphone and started recording. I believed in my heart that I could outrap anybody my age in Canada if not the world. I regret not putting out my music and taking it more seriously from the outset. At the time, I was doing it out of love. How could I apply my rapping ability better? I needed more beats.
That’s when my friend Luke came in and made the connection. Luke and his friend Andrew had started working with Fruity Loops. Luke rapped and Andrew made the beats. Now that I had a couple of people make music with I was trying to write even more. Finally, it was time to record our first track. We settled on Common’s Kanye-produced “For The People.” The plan was to head over to Andrew’s home studio but there was one problem – I was grounded.
Shad K’s rhyming ability made me want to put words together. I had a yellow notepad and I filled it. Then I filled another notepad. Then I switched to loose leaf paper and had a drawer that was literally full of rhymes. I thought rhyme books were limiting.
This is when I actually got an iPod. I wanted to fill it with music just as much as I wanted to fill pages with words past the margin. During my lunch breaks, I split my time between downloading discographies off The Pirate Bay and listening to tracks on 2dopeboyz. When I found one I liked, I’d loop it up and write to it.
If it wasn’t an instrumental I would rap over the words, it didn’t matter. Some of those verses are still better than what I can write now. I still write but now I’m motivated to do bigger things with music than perfect multisyllabic rhyme schemes. My love for music still grows every single day. The relationship I have with it is just a bit different. I’m getting involved with music in every way I can.
The week before my mom and step dad had left me home alone for the first time. I was 16 and I wanted to be able to get around faster than walking or taking the bus. Without a license, I thought it would be a good idea to take my stepdad’s car for joy rides. It was a fun week but when they got home the fun stopped. Somebody had left their water bottle in the back seat. They caught me red handed. I wasn’t allowed to leave my house but I still had a rap career to start. How could I convince my mom to let me go over to Andrew’s and record?
I came up with the perfect plan. I told my mom, who I love but who is very gullible, that I had taken up running. “Now that I’ve started, I have to run every day,” I told her. She bought it. I ran over to Andrew’s and got to recording. My relationship with music was shifting from purely consumer to creator as well. That first song wasn’t our best but it was a start.
Latest posts by Blake Fletcher (see all)
- Concert Review: Whitney in Vancouver at The Cobalt on August 1, 2016 - August 2, 2016
- Whitney – Light Upon The Lake Album Review - July 12, 2016
- Concert Review: JMSN in Vancouver at the Alexander - June 21, 2016