Excerpt | Jazz is Hip Hop | If Harlem Could Talk it would Scream!

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Excerpt   Jazz is Hip Hop

What I want to talk about is the new tenant that stays in Oscar’s apartment.  I mean old apartment.  He’s one of them uh, what you call them, uh rappers.  Call himself MC MANIFEST.  You know black people we got names for days, Pookie, Joo-Joo, Itch-Itch, Scratch-Scratch, But I ain’t never hear no name MC Manifest.  Said he gave himself that name cause “he wants to bring things into reality”.  I said what you going to bring into reality with your pants hanging down your drawers.   He just laughed and said, “pops you got jokes”.  He right I got jokes but I got a lot of sense too.  How can anybody take you serious when your pants all out your shirt and you got a scarf on your head with a hat over it.  I just don’t understand.  Now the other day I had to go on upstairs and talk to him.   That boy was blasting that old boom, boom music so loud I couldn’t even hear myself thinking or for that fact listen to my Coltrane.  See Friday night’s is a tradition for me to sit back and listen to my jazz.  I do a lot of my reminiscing. on that night.  I think of my old Harlem.  I remember when the Baby Grand was right there on 125th street & 8th Avenue.   You had to see it on a Thursday night.  “Whew” talk about seeing some foxes and the fellas were sharp as tacks too.  Small’s Paradise on 135th & Eight Avenue always had something good going on.  And Minton’s Playhouse was over there on 118th & St. Nicholaus Avenue.  .  That’s where I got my first taste of Jazz.  Just remembering those things keep me young. Kind of like my therapy.  But I don’t want to get to caught up in the past cause it’s the present that’s worrying me.  Now I tell the young man, “son, you’ve got to start being respectful of others.  That music is just too loud.”  He just keep bobbing his head up and down. “Pops, music ain’t loud it’s just the bass is thumping” Low, and behold that boy was telling the truth.  I looked right at his levels and it was on volume 3.  “Well why you got to have the bass so high then.  When Mingus played he just set the groundwork, he wasn’t try to overwhelm you with it.  He had room for all the other instruments to come in and share space.” Soon as I said that, he look at me like I had three heads,  “Pops, you got to have banging bass, it’s important for the jeeps.  Ump, Ump, Ump, Everybody only concerned with the stuff of life. “Son why you keep calling me pops, my name is Mr. Lankford,  “I keep calling you pops cause you keep calling me son.”  See that’s the other thing about this new generation they got an answer for everything.  “Well what you want me to call you then”
“Manifest”
“ I want to call you by the name your mother and father gave you” “What you mean my government name.”  Now you see, Muhammad Ali had a cause, and felt religiously obligated to change his name, but some of these folks got no obligation to no one but themselves.  So I said, “I don’t think your mother and father were thinking that when they named you.”  I could see I struck a nerve cause he turned around and screamed “ No, they wasn’t, but I know the history of this country.  I got knowledge of self.”   In my younger day I would’ve smacked the living mess out of him for saying something like that. All of us know the history of this country and if you black you know more than a little bit.  If not you a fool.  But respect is owed to your mother that birthed you and your father that named you.  I decided to let my better half take over and say nothing, but I could tell he knew that answer didn’t sit to right with me. “ My government name is Emanuel.  You can call me that.”
I thought that was nice, he’s going to let me call him by his real name.
“Your father know you call yourself Manifest”
“Nah, my dad returned back to the essence when I was small.”
“How bout your moms.”
“Around her it’s Emanuel, but she not hating on the name MANIFEST either.”
“You sure son”
“No doubt,” she said, “do what you got to do just make sure you can handle the consequences.”  Well I hope he can cause I wouldn’t be walking around with the name MANIFEST.  

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