They Call Him The Teacher

Adding to the repertoire of experiences, Ms. Iris and I had the honor of watching one of the most prolific, most articulate, most talented and confident musicians that has ever held a mic.   They call him The Teacher.

When I
First heard
Criminal Minded
I was in…
Damn, where was I?
Seventh grade… (from De La Soul Stakes is High Intro)


Well, for me, I can’t remember the first time I heard Criminal Minded, but I do remember the first time I heard (take a guess)…  I was actually in the eighth grade, in Marching Band class.  Thinking back it seems that our band director disappeared a lot, and with this day being no exception, I was provided an opportunity.  As a wannabe drummer at the time, I simply sat in the back of the band hall with all the other mischievous eighth graders who claimed to be drummers as well.

I remember one of the guys trying to play this beat with a bass drum and a snare together.  I wondered what on earth he was doing (or trying to do), so I began to listen closely.  Finally another guy said, “that’s not how it goes”, and pushed the first guy out of the way, attempting to play the beat himself.  Apparently, he failed too.

This went on for about 15 minutes before someone got a boombox from god knows where and put in this tape.  Curious and quiet, I soon heard this beat begin, and I was like whoa!  What is that?!?  It was My Philosophy by Boogie Down Productions (BDP).  I continued to listen to them destroy the beat in their attempts and started playing the beat in my head and eventually on my lap.  I had it down!  But was too shy and afraid to try it in front of anyone.

So, days went by and once again we were in the band room with no instructor in front of us.  As usual, the drummers started up, but this time I got up and walked over to the same bass and snare and said softly, “I can play it”.  Nobody paid me any attention at the moment, but I struck that bass drum once, twice, then the snare once, twice until I played the whole lick.  Everyone was like, “Ohhhh!!!! He got it!”  That was one of the greatest feelings ever.

And so over the years, I learned to love My Philosophy and everything else that BDP dropped.  By the time Self Destruction hit Yo MTV Raps, the east coast rappers had me hooked on the black power, knowledge of self, looking “to the east” mentality.  In my humble opinion and experience, this movement was all lead by KRS-One and Chuck D. (BDP and Public Enemy).

Barely a teenager, my big brother and I went to see Public Enemy (a few times actually), but never KRS-One.

It took 30 plus years to finally see the man they call The Teacher, once at the House of Blues Cleveland, and most recently, at Club 4-X in Akron, OH (Check out the pics and video from the Akron show).


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