While I was working as a car salesman in Poughkeepsie, New York. My boy George (not the singer) called me and said he had the hook up to the Jay-Z Hard Knock Life tour- after party. He said his guy knew one of Jay's people, and that I could have VIP access if I came. So I left my job to the chagrin of my employer and headed for Albany. Once I got there, I waited down in an empty VIP room for what seemed like hours to meet my favorite rapper. George had assured me that Jay would show up. I needed the added reassurance because I was leaving my job for the day without permission, or a guarantee that i'd still have a job. Plus artists hardly ever come to the after party after a concert. It was usually a ploy by the promoter to attract more party goers. However after some time Jay-Z did show up. He walked through the door with one lone security guy. And as I approached the security guy extended his hand as if to say, ""hold up." He looks at Jay and asked: "You know him?" Jay just shook his head to the negative. At that moment I opened my jacket to reveal that I was unarmed- I just was there to meet him. I shook his hand and afterwards he proceeded to the upper level where an eager and increasing crowd awaited. I hurried up to the upper floor to see what was supposed to be a mini performance by him. He took the small stage to perform, to my pleasant surprise, and in the pandemonium that ensued the very packed crowd started to overwhelm the venue's security. To the point where there wasn't even enough security to contain the now surging crowd. My eyes were fixed on Jay the whole time. He had a look of pure worriment on his face. It was as if the audience wanted to love him to death, and that was the start of me not wanting to be like Jay-Z.
Fast forward about 2 years later, I’m living in the Bronx now, and attending all the parties I can catch wind of. I end up at Joe’s Pub one night, and met a guy who had all the makings of a big shot; a table, bottles, and beautiful women. He told me that he was a finance guy, and after I spit a verse for him he made a call on the spot, and put me on the phone with a guy who introduced himself as Beef. I met up with Beef days if not a day later at Game Records down in SoHo. Although I imagined that Beef was managing me, he was more mentoring me than managing me.
Back then in the early part of the turn of the Century, smart phones were unheard of. You were considered to be balling not too long before then, if you had a StarTac Motorola.
Beef and his crew of tastemakers who called themselves BBS, came through one week with two-way pagers. They were like flip phones configured like a calculator, but with alpha-numeric keyboards. They also had an infrared beam that would allow you to transmit contact info on the spot. It was a strange, seemingly futuristic ritual to line up two-way pagers with another person and hear the confirming squelch that let you know the transfer of info was complete.
Only movers and shakers had two-way pagers in the places we frequented, and thanks to Beef, I had one too. Mine however came already loaded with contacts. I was amazed and afraid at some of the names in my contact list. This was around the time when the Jay-Z and Nas beef was really heating up. I was a fan of both emcees naturally, and battling was a rite of passage since the early days of Hip-Hop. However I took issue as a fan, and as a man with some of the things Jay-Z had said on record. So I Two-Way paged him, and after he responded: “Who is this?” I lightly chastised him for “going there.” I told him that he knew better, and that he was better than that. If Motorola keeps logs of communications somewhere, I’d like to see exactly what I typed. Nothing more became of my communication with Jay-Z, that is to say, there was no further communication on the two-way between him and I. The next and last time I saw him was some time later at a Club called Spa, on 13th Street and 4th Ave. I was so happy to be in the spot too, because it was not an easy spot to be in. Justin Timberlake sat in the booth near where I and my people sat. He was with a bunch of girls that seemed more like his relatives than groupies. Lennox Lewis was in the club as well and standing near the dance floor in a white basketball Jersey was Jigga. We made our way over near the dance floor, where he was and when I mustered up enough courage, I leaned over during a lull in the music, and said: “So what’s up with a meeting at Def Jam?” Feeling very pleased with myself, as I leaned back, studying his face, awaiting his reply. He replied semi-sarcastically: “I don’t know, I don’t own Def Jam.”
I walked away defeated, and come to think of it, I should have said more or just hit him on the Two-Way. Sadly Two-Way pagers had a short stay in the technological stream of time. Shortly afterwards Jay-Z and company, went back to their table and then left the club altogether. That's when we went and unabashedly raided the remaining vodka, and chasers that were on his table. For a bunch of hungry and thirsty emcees, all had not been lost.