Happy (Day After) Cyber Hump Day. Looks like I’m pulling triple duty this week, with my usual TWIHH post and part three of the (Not-So) Social Media series over at SpeedontheBeat.com (Caution: Part Three of the series is highly NSFW. Viewer discretion is strongly advised). But, I hope you’ve gotten your fill of stuffing, turkey, ratchet beatdowns and Twitter thirsting after that one young’un chick who
seems/seemed catfishy is supposedly from the University of Maryland that had people in a tizzy about a week or so back (Hi Reyna).
Apparently, this is the safest for work photo existing of her.
For this one, I’d like to go a bit personal and talk a bit about an event that impacted me and my approach to music. Yes, for those who forgot, I also do record and produce music under this lovely little moniker.
During my early years at UMD, I wasn’t DK, Dee Redd, Eyedeal or any of them. I was little ol’ J dot Speed, the kid that popped up randomly at Juke Joint, performed, then left to do sociology homework at McKeldin. Like a ninja, I came on stage, killed it, then stealthily sneaked out (except when I didn’t and made a complete fool of myself, but that’s how I learn). I wasn’t in it for fame or money or anything. I just had good music, and I wanted to share it. Even though I found a couple of gems in that year, I wasn’t even trying to be a talent head hunter.
I had less studio options than I do now. So most of the time I’d write something down in class, run back to Centerville 5 North, write “ON AIR” on our dry erase board, and record. Sometimes, I’d even have pow-wows with other artists, potentially trying to craft another song or a collabo. These collabos usually didn’t go anywhere, except for one time when my friend Dre and I decided to do a song together and perform it at Juke Joint. These were magic times for me. I mean, even after the fact that I’d been signed a few times growing up, I was still able to find joy, peace, and harmony in music. I was able to voice opinions I held dormant with music. I was able to speak to the world and heal it through my glitchy, uber-no-fi songs. I was able to make nothing but friends through it all.
Until everything went south.
Ikey (left) with J-Roc at Maryland Day 2007
While working on that Dre/Speed collabo, our mutual friend Ikey (yes, “Green Card” and “Coming to America” Ikey a/k/a Ike da Kid) was also working on projects with a friend, J-Roc. We’d all play our stuff to each other, and would perfect our respective segments and samples based on critiques. Now, somewhere in the midst of this, Ike and J-Roc performed a song entitled “Made Men” at Juke Joint. It had a line that went something like “My name is J-R, to the OC and I’m a boss, ballin’ up in the VIP.” I thought it was kind of cool, so I took the phrasing of the line to craft the following for a track entitled “I Got ‘Em”:
“My name is J-D, to the O-T/And son I’m a boss, what you supposed to be?”
I didn’t think anything of it (though I probably should have–look at Can-i-Bus and LL as an example of re-purposing lines starting beef), until I performed the song at what I like to call “Speed’s Maryland Day Meltdown.” At Maryland Day 2007, going on right after Ikey and J-Roc was me. So, here I was: 5’7, in a white Orioles fitted, shades–which I eventually beamed at someone in the audience, trying to be “cool”–capris, and a durag (Fashion Gods and Common Sense, forgive me) spitting lyrics. The first song I performed was “I Got ‘Em.”
Ike and J-Roc left the event after the first verse, and I got a couple of “ooohs,” but not of the “kill ’em” variety. Because of this performance, I’m pretty sure that I’m still banned from stepping foot near Stamp and McKeldin Mall during Maryland Day. I know I was barred from Juke Joint for a couple of performances. Walking back to Dre’s dorm in Easton, I ran into Ike and J-Roc and I congratulated them on their performance.
“Good job, y’all. You guys doing anything later? Dre and I may head down to South Campus. I think DJ [Strawberry]’s people are doing something, so I heard.”
All I got was icy stares scalding enough, they’d make heat melt. Ike and J-Roc walked away as I looked back at them, dumbfounded.
“What’s going on,” I asked the group I was with.
“Well, Speed, you did just diss the [stuffing] out of Ike and Jeremie,” one of them said, somewhat laughing at what’d just transpired.
“I did? How,” I asked, completely oblivious to the fact that my homage and re-purposed line came off and came out exactly like sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-shots fired.
Over the next month-plus through the end of the semester, there was a feeling of animosity in the air. Any cliché you can insert about the tension, it’d apply. Friends chose sides (the second time that happened among our group of friends that year). People got offended. Threats were fired off and glances exchanged. But, there was no music being made.
Until that damned “Cannon” remake. Now, I’m the type of person that will congratulate a person for dissing me. I’ll say “yo, dude. That bar was crazy. I didn’t think you’d go at me like that!” I’m just crazy like that. And, looking back six years later, that ish did kind of go in, except when it devolved into bar after bar…after bar of “Speed, you’re short” jokes. But, for the first time, I was taken aback and legitimately pissed off by the amount of foolishness that’d risen from a line that was initially meant as a kudos for a good bar. So, naturally, I fired back with something out of Game’s playbook, a 10-minute track where I just spazzed even more than Ike and J-Roc had. This went back and forth until the end of the semester.
For two years, Ike and I didn’t speak. I eventually removed the disses I’d dropped because J-Roc got killed and I, you know, didn’t want to speak ill of the dead over some BS rap “beef.” Eventually, Ike and I kind of reconciled–or at least stopped being so “damn dawg” about the fact that things went down as they did. It was funny how it happened. It was a random day during our Senior year. We were both in McKeldin and I happened to just say “screw it” and say “Hey, Ike. Man, my bad for all that. We were young and hotheaded.” And that was that.
So how did all of this impact me to become “The No-Fi King,” you’re probably wondering. Well, it gave me an even tougher skin. Realizing that people may get offended by things I said, I became more aware of what I said, how I said it, and who I said it to. Essentially, the Ike “beef” made me grow up musically and personally. That horrible Maryland Day debacle made me realize that I had incredibly bad anxiety issues and no amount of pre-gaming before a performance would alleviate them. Heck, they’d probably make them worse. So, future performances, I approached them soberly and without any craziness. And if I hadn’t been lyrically challenged by Ike during the beef, I probably wouldn’t have continued to do this music thing. Because I’ll be honest: to me, Ike was probably the most lyrical cat at UMD during our tenure there. So, while I’d beaten up on children before in battles, Ike represented the first man I’d battled/beefed with. And, at that point, I hope I pushed him to do the same.
Six years later and we’re still both making noise in our respective areas, though. So, I guess I did what he did.