Jean Grae: Tales From The Road

Well, back home in NY… Although it was only a short stint: two weeks…. It’s always beautiful to see your own bed. The road was the incredible (far better than saying “the good”) mixed with the, "this is some bulls**t". Of course, every great show always gives you that kind of high that you can’t […]

Well, back home in NY…

Although it was only a short stint: two weeks…. It’s always beautiful to see your own bed.

The road was the incredible (far better than saying “the good”) mixed with the, "this is some bulls**t".

Of course, every great show always gives you that kind of high that you can’t compare with anything else. It’s the getting TO the shows and the finding and booking in hotels in every town that makes it crazy.

"Which way is 90?" as you turn and look for a second and hit a divider. Then you have 2 flats and banged up rims in the middle of a snowstorm in….where now? Who knows. Oh….40 miles outside of Chicago.. Damn! So close…

So there you are, trying to laugh at a rest stop while eating a chicken tornado that has probably been there for two weeks. But to you, it tastes delicious – really, really, delicious. Much better than the beef jerky, Red Bull and vivarin you’ve been ingesting.

So you go, "well, listen y’all… it could’ve been worse… we aren’t on the way to a show tonight and we’re all alive." You drive a half a mile or so with two flats to a [repair place] (‘cause no ones towing anything at midnight) and wait a little over an hour in a room with no heat to get it fixed. You jog in place and hop up and down to keep warm and get back on the road. "I can’t feel my toes! I can’t feel them!" you say for 20 minutes, waiting for the heat to act like heat… it finally does.

You drive all night after a show in Cleveland, Ohio – to Detroit. Everyone is tired as hell, but there’s a snowstorm coming and you don’t want to get caught in it on the road. Somehow your manager is still awake and driving by the time you get there. You’re awake too… You get on Expedia, Travelocity…the works…hotels are like $180 and up for a room…You all figure you’ll do what you’ve been doing. Just get a suite, one room… That’s okay for everyone. But it’s still too much… Your eyes start hurting trying to keep them open, but you figure you’re the co-pilot and want to stay awake. Unable to fight it, you nod out against your will. When you wake up there’s a room… It’s freezing outside… your eyes tear as soon as you open the door. All the drinks in the car are frozen.

That’s some of the bad stuff… but, the shows… the shows…

You play Philly, wondering why you’re playing in a restaurant that says your name with "Hip-Hop Show" underneath it. You’re thinking that’s probably not a good sign… but a few people come out… A few but the most energetic crowd you could have hoped for… Everyone enjoys it so much and you have such a good time that your DJ starts spinning a set afterwards and people dance…then you drink… then you drop your sidekick in the toilet at the Comfort Inn… It’s funny to you at the time, so you forget it, and go to Pat’s for cheese-steaks.

Or you’re in Chicago. You start to see the place fill up, start thinking "oh s**t…this is a lot. You tell your DJ the new set list. It’s a new set

every night, never the same show twice. You play close to two hours. The crowd is unforgettable. You’re watching all these people enjoy the music and halfway can’t believe what’s happening… People came out to hear you…That’s crazy… You want to thank all of them, tell them how much you appreciate it, how unbelievable it is…

You take pictures with people, you sign autographs… you feel crazy while doing it. People are asking YOU for autographs… Nuts.

You try to write something personalized to everyone on their CD…forgive the corniness, but you appreciate every one of them so much.

You come home to New York… You don’t sleep after the DC show, which was crazy too. You were worried that no one would show up, but the place is packed. The crowd is dope. Everything is more than you hoped for. Another snowstorm, so you all aren’t willing to chance being stuck. You’ve already been two hours late for a show, watch your tour mates almost lose control of their car and get stuck in snow traffic because an 18-wheeler flipped over. You’re scared.

New York, it starts snowing at noon…so you figure that since you’ve been up for 24 hours already, might as well not go to sleep. Besides, there’s nothing in the fridge and you won’t be able to get to the supermarket in the next couple of days… so you supermarket shop and only get home at five. "Go to sleep" everyone says. "No, I might as well stay up, f**k it." You stay up, thinking NO ONE is gonna come out to a show in a blizzard. Especially in a spot that Hip-Hop shows are not normally thrown at. Do we take the train? How is your DJ gonna get all his s**t on the train? He offers to drive… it’s funny just getting IN the car…Once you get to the venue you see, yeah there’s seven people here. Oh well, f**k it. We will rock the same whether its seven or 7,000…

By the time it’s your set, the venue has filled up. Oh man… it’s close to being packed in there. You don’t even do your normal intro… You tell the crowd that they are CRAZY for coming out, but you love them for doing so… You rip for an hour and change… Everyone has a great time…

Then the promoter refuses to pay you your full amount of money.. You and everyone wanna spaz out on him. It’s a damn blizzard, you have slept…you all gave your 200% onstage, your tour-mates spent two hours on the train traveling down from the BX and now this dude don’t wanna pay AND wanna call the cops? He tries to kick you out and say you’re trespassing… tries to provoke you all into physically assaulting you by laughing in your faces…The cops show up…

But enough of that…this is the deal…. you know that you were underestimated in a lot of instances…. You try to kill it each and every night…hustle CD’s and maximize the fact that you are out on the road.. You have the chance to show and prove. So that’s all you try to do. Thinking that 10 years ago, those were the same kind of rap shows that you were at, in the front row… Telling people how their music helped you get through the day. It’s ok if not everyone gets it now, because some people do… Every show means someone new gets introduced to it. So you do every show like it’s your last show. It’s not an overnight success and you would never want it to be. You’re like Andy in Shawshank… every day you chip a little bit more, a little bit more… be patient…keep your mind focused on the reward at the end.. Maybe it will never be the end. You don’t want to stop being hungry. So you never will.

You never will….

Thank you to everyone who came out to "The No Turntables Tour"

Much extra love to Crazy DJ Bazarro, Diverse, Longshot, Rude One, Ruddy Rock…and Super Colin. Much hate to the Burgandy Malibu.


Mixtapes coming soon….

The Run Run Shawshank Redemption-2005

Jeanius, The Warning-2005



The Generals-2005

Whew…Thanks AllHipHop… 😉