i’ve known Soul Khan since he first arrived at as a freshman when I was a junior. right away he wanted to jump into cyphers and get on stage with the band and so forth. the kid was phenomenal. eventually he and I (and another guy) started a rap group we called BPM. so, for about 2 years on-and-off, I used to rap IN a group with Soul Khan.
of course, I eventually stopped rapping. and in no small part because SK was waaaaay better at it than me. indeed, when I tell people why i don’t really rap any more my anecdote is that writing with him I realized, “you know… this could be alot better if I wasn’t ruining it.”
so a healthy slice of humble pie, yes. but in the years since then, I’ve been proven right. Leave Soul Khan to his own devices and he’ll make great hip hop. And it has been my pleasure to augment that music with that which is much more *my* expertise — sanging.
this year marked the seminal moment with SK went full-time into music and, as part of the way-back crew, I’ve been given the opportunity to rock with the fellas. now, its a very different scene that back in the Bard days of BPM (the acronym, by the way, never had a concrete significance) when our first real concert was just us rapping outside of the dining commons holding a boombox with our beats on a casette tape.
these days, if you’re looking for Soul Khan you can find him among the excellent company of the Brown Bag All Stars — a far superior and more dedicated group of individuals that three collegers soliciting brunch traffic. and among that crew are some very talented individuals of whom you shall no doubt soon here or else endure my twitter-born ravings about them. but you can also find Soul Khan doing his own things.
this year alone, he dropped some 3 EPs and several (tens?) of freestyles, guest appearances, collabos and so forth. one song made its way on to MTV. Turns out it was a song I was on. Turns out I got to… dress up for the video.
all this led to some great exposure and, however it does, Soul being offered a spot at FunFunFunFest in Austin, Texas. given the opportunity, we decided to make it work. on a temperate Friday in Brooklyn, four gentlemen crammed into my 2005 Ford Focus. it was myself (with my Nord), Soul Khan, Deejay Element (with his occupational accoutrements), and a cat by the name of B.A. (aka Broken Batteries) who went as the road manager. we needed to be in Dallas in 25 hours. and so, we took off.
was it hell? yes. 28 straight hours of driving (we were kind of late, yes). element and I were the only drivers and so took turns driving — switching every time we had to refill the tank. worked out to be every 350 miles or so. it was a looooong road. but we made it to Dallas. we played a show up there and then drove down to Austin the next morning to play FFFFest.
and then we got up the next day… and drove back to Brooklyn. it was a defining experience. traveling halfway across the country. playing real original music for people who dug it. and doing it all on a shoestring, adrenalin, and raw determination. but that, my friends, is the glory that truly exists for the artist. the lauds and compliments and official recognitions be damned. what it comes down to is the chance to perform, the will to get there, and the people who come to see you play. all those things performing in high-level synergy amount to the highest pinacle of success in any artist’s struggle.
we came back to New York. fell out into distant-ness for a couple of days. and then rejoined forces to put together a big year-end show at the Knitting Factory for the release of Soul Khan’s third EP of the year, Pursuance (prod by Audible Doctor). it would be the last show for the trio (me, Khan, and element) for the year, but hopefully a harbinger of doper things to come.