“If everyone is a product of this society, who will say the things that need to be said, and do the things that need to be done, without compromise? Truth will never start out popular in a world more concerned with marketability than righteousness. It will initially suffer ridicule and even violence- yet ultimately it is undeniable. All of humanity is living in a dream world, but suffering real consequences.”
“Let me be patient, let me be kind, make me unselfish, without being blind, though I may suffer, I’ll envy it not and endure what comes cause He is all that I got”
“The only help I need to live, is unprofessional. The only wealth I have to give, is not material. And if you need much more than that, I’m not available.”
“See fantasy is what people want, but reality is what they need. And I just retired from the fantasy part.”
– Lauryn Hill
I love to dance. If you know me, off line, this is one of the first things you’ll say about me when asked to describe me. I don’t get many opportunities to go dancing, but when they arise, I capitalize. This weekend was all about dancing, as I spent great time with my friends dancing two nights away. I went to a party by DJ Spinna called “What The Funk?” which is a mash-up of music by and inspired by James Brown and Fela Kuti.
This is one of my favorite parties because I’m heavy into funk music and Afrobeat. My body undulates, almost involuntarily, to the rhythmic beats and thumping bass of both genres. I got completely lost at some points. Luckily, I was conscious and cognizant of the fact that one of my favorite artists, Lauryn Hill, was in the building.
When you hear that buzz, and look around, you expect to see tons of security, people rushing, etc. Nope. I looked up and saw a petite woman, dressed in a maxi dress and 4 inch stilettoes, natural hair in a short afro, large dangling earrings, and adorned with the softest look and widest smile. I was staring at Lauryn Hill, L-Boogie, the hip-hop Nina Simone…. Man.
I was with my friends, one of whom is really big on getting photos with her favorite hip-hop artists. I watched her make her way onto the stage and felt SO proud of her. I was shaking a bit. I couldn’t believe we were there with Ms. Hill!! I was so happy to see her doing well, especially after her recent legal troubles. She looked strong and hopeful, brave…and free. I later learned that she’d just performed at the nearby Rock The Bells concert and asserted that she was “back”. Dopness.
I was content to just revel in my friend’s success at grabbing a pic. We stepped outside and she was emotional. I’m a thug, so I couldn’t let my feelings show… but I was SO geeked and bawling on the inside. I shot out a few tweets. Then I went back in and decided to go for it. I wanted my own picture and time with Ms. Hill. And I got it.
When I went up there, most folks had gotten their pics so she was alone. I decided to talk to her. I told her that i’ve been a huge fan for over 15 years and that I’m a mom and her song “Zion” always makes me think of my son. She asked his name. I said “Garvey”, she said “That’s beautiful” and flashed a smile. Then I joked about taking the picture the hood way, because my cameraphone is a hater when others use it, and she said “Where you from?”. I said “The Bronx, yo!” She smiled again. She gave me a hug and I said thank you and goodbye and left, not wanting to be a creep.
As the night progressed, we kept dancing. I would look over and see her getting her dance on; she was truly enjoying herself. As a mom, that touched me because it’s so hard for us to find time to go out and enjoy ourselves. I was happy for her.
When I saw her leaving, I followed her out of the door. I couldn’t help it. She looked back and I waved and said “Have a good night, Ms Hill” and she walked back towards me and grabbed my hand again. I was shook and blabbering, so I bumbled “I have to tell you that I LOVE the Unplugged album. It was EVERYTHING to me”. She looked, leaned back a bit and said, “You get me?” and I was like “YES!! That album is my LIFE!!”. She smiled that big beautiful smile again, shook my hand more, and waved as she walked away.
I… I’m still astounded. This was a remarkable experience. It was brief, but it just… I’m realizing so many of my dreams these days. I’m meeting people who inspire me, I’m finding my own path, and I’m focusing on my sources of inspiration. To come face to face with someone who has inspired me for SO long just confirms that I’m on the right path, doing the right things.
God is so real.