2004, I was lucky enough to share an amazing, brief, life changing moment with one of my idols, Isaac Hayes.
In 1986, when I first started taking rapping and producing seriously by purchasing a pair of Synsonic Drums from my boy Harun’s uncle Rick, the first thing we did was synch our little drum patterns with Isaac’s Do Your Thing, from the Shaft album. He broke ground by recording single songs on albums that were well over the industry standard of 3 minutes and some odd seconds.
For instance, “Do Your Thing” is over 19-minutes in length and these types of dramatic arrangements and recordings changed the way artists approached recording albums and dispelled age old notions that albums wouldn’t sell.
According to my friend Rob Bowman who wrote the excellent book Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records, “no single album had a greater impact on the direction of black music in the first half of the 1970′s” than Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul album. Its also significant because these extended grooves Hayes produced allowed hundreds of thousands of kids like me, to sample and create new forms of music using technology and making it something we called our own.
So there I was, standing in a press area at the BMI Awards in sunny, Miami Florida. The day had started off great, because I had caught the same flight with unheralded soul icon Bunny Sigler, who like Hayes, was receiving a life time achievement award. Fate placed me right next to Sigler on the same flight, so I was already happy that I was able to speak to him.
So once I arrived at the venue, for some reason, I was not properly credentialed (nor properly dressed) to attend the formal dinner. This was a headache, but a cute little friend of mine who did publicity pulled some strings and I ended up at a table with a bunch of older folks. After I loosened up a bit, I struck up conversation with a woman sitting next to me, who told me she was from Memphis and did booking for Isaac Hayes, The Temprees, The Mad Lads and other great groups from the Stax family of labels. After I named-dropped a bunch of the aforementioned groups’ songs and professed my love for each, she seemed to be genuinely delighted at my enthusiasm. If my memory serves me correct, she said she was Isaac Hayes’ sister, but it could have been another closer relative. Either way, I was in.
“Can I meet Isaac and just give him a few words, I love his music,” I asked her.
She agreed and after everyone cleared out, here came Isaac. He was dressed in all black, with his traditional black shades. I walked next to him as he came up and out of the lobby and I tried explained how much of a fan of his that I really was. He didn’t pay me any attention at all, because I’m sure a million people tell him this, every day.
This is where it got crazy. By the time we reached the press area, people were everywhere. I saw R. Kelly chillin and I saw Baby and The Cash Money millionaires getting it poppin’.Even though I wanted to go join that fun, I figured I better take this chance and just tell him the truth about my favorite song and he didn’t even sing it.
“My favorite song you ever did is the last song on Carla Thomas’ Carla album , called ‘Fate.’ I got hooked on the album at first because of Carla’s gold dress on the cover, but that’s the stand out song on the album.”
He stopped what he was doing and pulled his sunglasses off his face and he started humming the song. As he hummed the words to “Fate,” I began to sing the words to the song and so did he. But then I noticed, Isaac Hayes was touching both my hands and we were actually swinging around in circles in the moment singing this song, that he claimed in excitement, he hadn’t heard in 20 years.
After he released my hands, I don’t know what got into me.I literally stopped what I was doing and ran out of the BMI Awards in excitement, completely amazed at what had just transpired. I really might have run halfway to my hotel, before I even realized what I was actually doing.
Well, now that Isaac Hayes has gone and I reflect back over the past five years, the words to the song Fate have sudden relevance again. Isaac, it was by Fate that I met you, for that one brief moment.
I’m glad that I had an opportunity to thank you and touch your magic hands that have created the songs that I have cherished, sang in anguish or joy and always amazement, on so many nights. If not for you, many of us on the business side wouldn’t exist as well (learn about his fight with Stax and publishing). Id like to believe that it was fate that allowed you and I to cross paths, but I know it was destiny for you and Hip-Hop music to do so.
I’ve searched every corner
Of this bitter earth
Trying to find someone
To take your place
Fate must have it planned for us
Cause your love I can’t erase
Fate must have it planned for us
To love, until we die
It took a long time
To find out it was only you
And now I know how my heart feels
There’s something I’d like to do
For each lonely night
I was away
I’ll give a thousand kisses to you
I know fate has plans for us
To love eternally true
I know fate has planned for us
To love each other until we die