My Pop Life #142 : Gimme Some More – Busta Rhymes

Gimme Some More   –   Busta Rhymes

Yo Spliff where the weed at?
Gimme some more
I know ya’ll niggas need that
Gimme some more
Even though we getting money you can
Gimme some more
With the cars and the big crib
Gimme some more
Everybody spread love
Gimme some more
If you want it let me hear you say
Gimme some more

Got reminded of this TUNE last night at the Flying Lotus gig in the Music Hall of Williamsburg.  Went with Tony Gerber and his daughter Ruby and her friend Isobel, – the kids disappeared as soon as we got in there, like kids do.  Great great gig.  Halfway through FlyLo’s set the Bernard Herrmann strings from Psycho started up and the projections went psychedelic chopped black & white and then the unmistakable drumbeat heralded the mighty Busta Rhymes track Gimme Some More from late ’98 early 1999.  What a tune.  What a lyrical delight.  What a sample.  And what a flipmode flipping video (see below).  He was at the height of his powers on this track and this album Extinction Level Event, his third.  In early 99 this was the bomb with its jerky rhythms, sudden drops and verbal dexterity.  It felt about as fast as you could rap without tripping over your tongue.  I loved it.

I still love it.  It felt different then though.  Everything felt different then.  The pre-millennial tension.  The excitement.  The fear.  The imminence of – what ?  We didn’t know.  This song seemed for the moment, jittery, greedy, consumptive and utterly mental.  The whole of 1999 had a party atmosphere thanks to Prince and the calendar, or perhaps a delayed gratification repeat meme, because if you weren’t at a party you damn well knew you were going to be at one soon.  And then, in a slightly hysterical but rather fantastic way, you would party like it was 1999, because you’d never get another chance.

Gimme Some More

The dirtiest sexiest most indulgent party we ever had was surely that year, on Valentine’s night February 14th.  Not sure what day of the week it was – an Asperger’s question – and it doesn’t matter, but it wasn’t the weekend.  The gang were invited, in particular single people, and Jenny and I provided space, music, drugs and cake, or Eton Mess ie meringue, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cream.  We also had bowls full of sweets of all different types and on the kitchen table was a large bowl full of grass, by which I mean marijuana, all nicely shredded and ready to smoke.  There were papers and pipes and there was drink.   Bubbles.  Beers.  Wines.  Spirits.

Who came ?  Brighton people.  Let’s see.  Jo.  Andy.   Josh.   Soriya.  Kerry and Selena who both got very stoned.  The Stomp crew Jo, Luke, Loretta and Steve.  Keith and Yarra.   Mandy.   Millie.  Others.  Who didn’t ?  Mark Williams.  Amanda.  Lucy.  But really?  I can’t remember.  Truly.  The party was too good to be actually remembered. Patrick and Emma?  Jeanne and Laurie?  Fraser ?   It was pre-Brighton Beach Boys so none of that crowd.  No one came down from London like they usually did for our parties (except Mandy).  We had another one later that year for the actual millennium, sometime in December to combine with Jen’s birthday;  in the house as usual, bring your own drugs as usual, Catherine Wearing came down to that one, Paulette, Beverley, Sharon Henry, Eamonn & Sandra, quite a few Londoners.  Jenny and I would take it in turns to DJ, no one else would really get a look-in.  Jenny knew how to get the girls dancing, always critical for a good houseparty.  She had her top playlist – Whitney, TLC, Anita Baker, Deborah Cox, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye…  We would dance in two and threes or crazy ones, until dawn or later if necessary.  As long and until you felt like you had been at a party.  The last one was in 2003, then we stopped them abruptly and grew up.  Finally got the wallpaper up.  No more parties.  I remember the Valentine’s Party as the most indulgent of them all – midweek, no one’s birthday, mary-jane in a bowl, champagne and chocolate.  We didn’t really do cocaine, didn’t like the effect it had on people, and didn’t take it, but other people sure did and it wasn’t a big deal.

Busta Rhymes aka Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr. was born in Brooklyn, raised on Long Island and after high school attended George Westinghouse High School in downtown Brooklyn, some six blocks from where I’m writing this blog, alongside Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G and DMX.  The story goes that Jay-Z and Trevor had a rap battle in the school canteen one lunchtime, and Busta lost.

Busta Rhymes came up via Leaders Of The New School who would support Long Island crew Public Enemy at early gigs.  Chuck D gave him his moniker after NFL wide receiver George ‘Buster’ Rhymes.  Soon Busta’s verbal dexterity earned him guest slots with New York acts A Tribe Called QuestThe Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige and Big Daddy Kane among others.  He started recording his first album The Coming in 1995 with its startling lead single Woo Hah! (Got You All In Check).  He is undeniably one of hip-hop’s leading exponents thanks to his verbal skills which are second only to Rakim, Biggie and one or two others.  You may argue that among yourselves.  It’s customary for me to learn the lyrics of my favourite raps so that I can spit them at unconventional and unlikely moments.  This particular rap contains so many uses of Nigga and is so fast and difficult to perform that it rarely gets an outing.   The track was produced by Busta’s regular collaborator DJ Scratch.

stills from the video for Gimme Some More

The video is a work of genius.  Opening with the strange pop myth :

As a shorty, playing in the front yard of the crib
Fell down, and I bumped my head
Somebody helped me up and asked me if I bumped my head
I said “Yeah”

So then they said “Oh so that mean we gon, you gon switch it on em’?”
I said “Yeah, Flipmode, Flipmode is the greatest”
Knowing as a shorty, I was always told
That if I ain’t gon’ be part of the greatest
I gotta be the greatest myself !

This over the strings from Psycho and a cartoon day-glo kids TV-world scene.  As the drumbeat kicks in, the video develops with more fish-eye lens angles, strange characters and demonic figures, Busta himself usually shot from the top down like a cartoon of Deputy Dawg.  The effect reminds me of some of Missy Elliott’s pumped-up visuals which were also superb, disturbing and funny all at the same time.


  Everybody spread love.

for those who like to follow the lyrics :

My Pop Life #14 : Sodade – Cesaria Evora

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Sodade   –   Cesaria Evora

…Quem mostra’ bo  ess caminho longe?…

…who showed you this distant way?…

When we moved down to the South Coast of England in 1996 it was a whole new chapter for us:  a local vibe, the seaside village of Brighton, bohemian, gay, slow, friendly.  Los Angeles (where we’d been for three years) had been a frankly weird mix of sunshine & shade with little sense of community (and we’d run out of money), and London had become a squashed, dark satanic option which didn’t offer us any feelings of moving forward into our future.  Brighton was a new adventure, new restaurants, new friends, same old football team (hurrah the mighty Brighton & Hove Albion, The Seagulls) but a brand new community for us to enjoy.  Not that new for me – I’d gone to school in Lewes after all, seven miles down the A27 to the east, but it is the longest seven miles I know.  Lewes and Brighton are two different universes.  But I was back in easy reach of my childhood sacred ground – the South Downs.  We liked leaving London.  It felt like an escape.  It was still there at the end of 49-minute train journey.  But Brighton was buzzing.

I think it must have been 1997 when we first met Amanda Ooms, through mutual friend Lulu Norman.   It’s hard to find words to describe Amanda, but I’ll try.  She is a Swedish film and stage actress, novelist, painter, cook, playwright, pianist, raconteur, witch, and living spirit of nature.  And if I’ve already spilled over into hyperbole it’s because it is difficult to do justice on the page to feelings which spring from inner experience.  Amanda lived in a mews flat off Wilbury Road where she could paint and cook and we would gather there, Jenny & I and often others – Jo & Andy,  Paul, Will & Catherine, Daisy, Jimmy, Jo & Lee, maybe Tim and often a foreign friend of Amanda’s, or a sibling of one of us;  it felt loose and relaxed but in reality it was a tight group, a temporary family of support & love, and while Amanda cooked up some alchemical magic in her kitchen, we would sit with her and all share the week’s triumphs and disasters (hopefully treating those two imposters both the same) drink wine, smoke weed and laugh, eat the feast of magic, then inspired, replenished and unburdened, we would dance.  And because we were Brighton hipsters, pretentious, arty, groovers & shakers, we called it Bohemia.

Sometimes Bohemia gathered in a local pub, for roast and ale.  Sometimes others hosted, Will & Catherine, or Jo & Andy, maybe even Ralph & Jenny, but the enchantment happened at Amanda’s as I’m sure everyone would concur.  Her unflinching honesty, her ability to make every moment feel precious made us all feel more alive, at the edge of our own personal possibilities, and yet unflinchingly aware of time passing, of crystalline moments dissolving as soon as they formed, of never quite being able to have and to hold, in one way, forever.

There are hundreds of songs from this period which would happily make their own playlist – all types of music but leaning, as alternative Sweden somehow does, towards the gypsy and world music elements, the passionate singers, the cubans, the arabesque.  This song “Sodade” is from the Cape Verde Islands – a few hundred miles off the coast of Senegal – the language is a type of Portugese called Cabo-Verdian, the singer is the wonderful Cesaria Evora who sadly died in 2011.  The atmosphere of the music takes me straight back to Amanda’s kitchen, helping her to chop some garlic, sharing a moment of joy or sadness, just being present and alive.  And yet the song also feels like a lament – or more accurately a longing – for what is lost and may never come again. The perfect bittersweet taste of nostalgia for a place and a time.

When Amanda moved back to Sweden in 2005 we tried to carry on with Bohemia in her absence, hosting at ours, or often gathering for Sunday pub roasts along the coast, sharing our week’s triumphs and disasters once again, supporting and nurturing our dreams together, drinking and eating and smoking (outside) but we didn’t have Amanda’s kitchen and we didn’t have Amanda.   The crystal had already dissolved.