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24 HOURS IN MOSCOW
June 09, 2003
24 HOURS IN MOSCOW
On PE’s 47th tour my cats take pride in filling up their passports. Often there are different motivations for each and every show, varied situations pump us up for different reasons. Here the reason is simply going to a place we’ve never performed before, RUSSIA. I heard that RUN-DMC performed there a couple years back and ripped it. Well in MOSCOW only my worldly god-brother, ICE T, tripped thru here with BODY COUNT. Other than that there has been a waiting hip hop audience here for the past 15 years since we seriously broke Europe in 87. The wall fell in 89 and it’s been a slow spread rap-wise thru the eastern block. The gear is sold, copied, fashioned out on the heads and bodies of headz. ROCAWEAR, PHAT FARM, even KARL KANI adorn the participants. The attitude is straight hardcore fanatic, and the eastern block of EUROPE is hip hop crazy and we’re gonna take it to em.
Flying in right after playing a packed energetic gig in Helsinki the night before, we overlooked a very green terrain down below. I figured although Finland was a bit chilly heading south to Moscow wouldn’t be much different. I was wrong, it was straight brick outside upon landing at the MOSCOW Airport. I thought that doing this in JUNE we would avoid my past imagined recollections of RUSSIA, like in the ROCKY 3 flick where everything was covered in snow. Well looking out the window I could see where winter battered its mark. The airport grass and grounds reminded me of some rural Florida or Texas airport, or perhaps one of the Caribbean Islands or South America. Grass and old concrete shared the same space much of the taxi. Older AEROFLOT planes loaded up next to us, aircraft that I swore I wasn’t getting on before the tour. Getting in the building we were led to the passport control where the line was very long indeed. Inside this old terminal building hung a new SAMSUNG screen showing VH1 as corporations were blasting into the wil, wil, east. Still they were not letting anybody thru easy. We had to go thru 2 weeks of visa submission for this gig. Hardcore grills are still in effect among the airport officials, even if they’re on younger MTVish faces. The old terminal was packed and chaotic, I chatted with a girl named OLGA who was mad she couldn¹t go to the concert but also couldn’t wait to get to where she was going, out. Peeps were hustling their ass off. Taxi drivers yelling over everything. There anybody can be a taxi driver, all they need is a whip.
Getting out of the airport, we got hit by 35 degrees and it snowed on the other side of town on this June 3rd 2003. Found out that we’d be doing the show without GRIFF, because of a visa technicality. The promoters got us into the city, a 25 minute ride in 2 vans and 3 cars. Alongside the road a lotta people walked. No sidewalks. High rise real project type buildings, traffic, and people catching mass transit on weather beaten buses and stops. It definitely reminded me of a South American city, a place that the rich bailed out on and robbed all wealth from the people. McDonalds, the food superpower, was in Russian letters almost every mile, and although I couldn¹t read it the big M and yellow and red colors made me recognize it just like a 23 year old that can’t read yet. In RUSSIA the lanes, driving- wise, are paid little attention to. The bigger your car the righter of way.
We got there at 6:00 pm so no hotel, we had to go straight to the venue. The former main theater back in the day was now a building of poor upkeep. Surrounding the building were Russian b-boys who bought their tickets were dressed in winter gear and they were also surprised by this cold. (This weather was rare. The last time it snowed in Moscow at this time was in 1963, so don’t get it twisted. They’d just had a 73 degree day the week before.) We loaded up to the dressing room and I could see that 50-60 years back this building was the sh*t. The security looked like cats who used to be in the old Soviet army and they definitely were trying to prove that point. Older cats. Serious. As I came back outside to sign autographs one guy took a picture. They thought it was a breech and proceeded to issue a Russian beatdown. I and a few others asked them to stop it, that it was only a picture but this cat wanted to give out an old school I’m pissed at this new thing whipping like he was trying to impress. Outside I was greeted by two cats named BROKEN SOUND, a hip hop group I’d played on my internet radio show Bring The Noise When The Sh*t Hits The Fans a few years back. I invited them in as well.
The gig itself was the usual three hours in this hall. Banners hung with their radio station 100fm ultra and others. The music is everything here, it is hope, it brings pictures of dreams and connection of human understanding. After hearing about PE for 16 years, the gig was a bit surreal for them. Three hours wore them out, but they had no other barometer. Some people cried that this was a miracle. The hip hop old schoolers were in shock, getting their props. Hearing about us, getting black market cassettes and records when they were still the USSR, and after 1989 the bootlegs CDs (here everything is bootleg, like in Africa, and South America people pay $3.00 max for them.) It was a fufillment. I remember getting my laces constantly untied by reaching fans, but also getting them retied by some teenager’s mother who was up front. This kid kept giving me his ring. I refused and gave him a signed shirt but he kept insisting. After the show, the magazine 100% HIP HOP represented and gave us an interview. I couldn’t read it of course, for years I was perplexed by the spellings and characters of the language, but another interviewer KATRINA who is an arts theater teacher here from the states simply told me it’s derived from Greek. Instantly I was clarified on this similarity.
Afterwards we signed more autographs as we headed to the hotel and a night ride thru the city of Moscow. Katrina was our guide and we were told that the city and country was going thru much physical change and planning. We tripped down to RED SQUARE where PAUL McCARTNEY had just played albeit with larger fanfare. FLAV and I took some shots in front of the KREMLIN and then we all went to this American styled 1950ish diner smack dab in the middle of town and got the best milkshakes, pancakes and omelets in EUROPE. I was leaving with two other members at 4am so it was up all night. In closing, 24 hours is too short to gather the full vibe of any country, much less a formerly suppressed hip hop one. This was to build a road, yet another one for rap artists to hike. It was our purpose to unite the global hip hop nation, as we learned from AFRIKA BAMBAATAA and the ZULU NATION. Surely we’d have been here in our prime if we were allowed. Now the future is for many to hit these roads, for it is as rewarding to the soul as any artist and fan could ever want. Son of a Bush is doing a rally speech over this way in QUTAR. Well I never thought I’d see the new whirl odor dupe the earth on militarism disguised as this global war on terror. So who at the end of this world witch hunt lands on top of the pile? Was this Bush senior’s master plan? The real truth of the matter is that the few still rule the masses. There are massive poor across the planet. And they’re still looking for weapons of mass-disappearance, while rendering the existence of the UNITED NATIONS damn near meaningless.
Black music month 2003, RUBEN STODDARD wins American Idol at the same time that BARRY WHITE and LUTHER VANDROSS take ill. As we hope for those great singers recovery, we would hope the natural order of the creativity granted by the creator is also granted by the record business. If they’re smart enough to see how to make this young man get a chance to be just as legendary. In the past weeks ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY with JAY Z and 50 CENT on the cover two profound statements were said in a great interview. JAY Z said the music business is OK, the record business is in trouble. 50 said when you broke and on the curb a BENZ looks like a spaceship. On point brilliance.