Honestly, I don't remember the season.
I think it was either Spring or Fall because I was wearing my suit coat. Manhattan summers are too muggy to rock extra layers. You see, The Company Man sweats. And 80 degrees, concrete, and car exhaust are Kryptonite to my Cool (pun intended).
Lets say it was Spring. I like Spring.
Don't ask me 'which day of the week?'
So, coming out of the FYE that used to be on 51st and 6th, I turned the corner to head back to the office. I looked up, and there was Carrera Lu standing right there outside the store!
Its like...the organized confusion of midday midtown froze suddenly. Everything slowed like that first time Neo dodged bullets in the Matrix part one. I didn't see anything else. I didn't see anyone else. I could've been in Brooklyn for all I knew. My senses were f*cked.
And not on some 'Stan' shit.
On some Respect shit.
Meeting Lupe now (err...then) is like meeting greatness just before universal acclaim (despite his ever expanding fan base, Lu still has his detractors. We're certainly not all in agreement on the wallpaper. not yet anyway). Its like meeting Michael in '76 or Jordan in '86 (less the notoriety). Its like meeting Ra fresh off Paid In Full. Nas fresh off Illmatic. Its like meeting the defining talent of any generation, in any genre of any industry, anywhere. At least to me.
And I was shook. I admit it.
I admit it.
To come within a clear twenty feet of someone you genuinely respect and admire as an artist (genuinely in the strictest sense of the word, artist in its most complimentary) is not a common occurrence. And when it does happen, no one wants to come across as another rambling fan seeking an autograph (I only had the Blu & Exile receipt on me anyhow). But at the same time, I wasn't about to let this moment pass without saying something! So I walked up to him:
TCM: "Yooo! Lupe, whats up?? My names 'J' and I respect what you do, kid. Keep doing what you do." That felt corny. Did I just say that???
Turning to the familiar looking cat perched against FYE's window:
TCM: "Is this your hypeman? Whats up, homie? You're a good hypeman."
My fractured senses were still trying to put everything into perspective.
Who is that curly haired guy over my left shoulder? Is he holding a camera?? Damn, its hot. Am I really talking to Lupe??? I'm really talking to Lupe...Focus...Focus...woo-saa
Lupe: "Thanks man. I appreciate that. Make sure you pick up The Cool on December 18th."
TCM: "Oh no doubt! Wait. Are you sure its coming out then? Because I remember back when it was supposed to drop in November..."
Lupe: "Yeah. Nah, its coming out December 18th. Thats the date."
TCM: "Thats whats up. I was disappointed you didn't show up at the Allhiphop.com Week show at the Nokia too."
Lupe: "Aw man...see what happened is that they thought I was performing at the show, but they never confirmed the event. And I had a show in Japan that day..."
TCM: "Ahh...i hear that. Well Lupe, keep doing what you do. I gotta get back to work."
Lupe: "Aight, thanks man."
Instantly, life unpaused. Snapped back to reality...ups, there goes gravity.
As clarity kicked in, I remembered that Atlantic Records' headquarters is right next to FYE and figured Lupe must've been in town for meetings since he didn't have any shows scheduled. Why didn't I ask him why he was in town? Or whens his next NYC show?
I remembered that the familiar cat perched against the window was in fact Bishop G, and that he's much more than just a hypeman. Did I really tell Bishop G that he's a 'good hypeman???'
Most regrettably, I remembered all of the things that I always wanted to ask Lu, all the things I wanted to tell him. I wanted to ask him about Fahrenheit 115, and what was going though his mind when he created "Switch" and "Much More" and 'Lupe The Killer?'" I wanted to ask him about his inspirations and why It Was Written was so influential, and when will he finally lace a track with Nasty Nas? I wanted to ask him what if felt like immediately after 'Presure' was complete and that moment he realized that he roasted Jay-Z?? I wanted to know if he ever thinks about how he'll handle the first time a credible rapper challenges him publicly? It happens to every Emcee. Is he battle ready???
And more personally, I wanted to tell him that the reason this site even exists is because of his music. I wanted to tell him how my back-in-the-day-daily email blasts to everyone in my address book exhaulting the lyrical genius from the Westside of Chicago evolved into The Quotable. And that those conversations helped me realize that journalism is what I want to do when I grow up.
I wanted to press 'Rewind' and run it all back to the beginning. I wanted a 'do-over.'
But it was too late.
I was already half a block away. Turning around now and running up to him again would have felt awkward and dry-stalkish.
So I kept it moving - right past the CBS building on my right and that fly, Laura London-looking shorty in the black camise and black ruffled skirt twirking by on my left.
Matter of fact...It was Summer.
And I left my suit coat in the office.