Yesterday I took the long way home. As opposed to taking a cab or walking to the nearest train station, I walked from Chinatown to Penn Station. From Delancey and Essex to 34th and 7th Ave. The walk is a good fifty blocks, and I did it in about forty-five minutes, even with Cydney in her stroller. It was a nice night and being that it’s about to get cold for real, I figured why not get one more good walk through part of the best city in the world.
Cydney and I had just got home from a family reunion in New Jersey. They were
extended family of Timile’s. Short version: The guy that Timile thought was her biological father who took a DNA test and it turned out it wasn’t him, so there’s a nother guy somewhere: him. This was the third time I’ve gone. The first was three years ago when Timile was pregnant, last year, and this past weekend. I had a heavy heart once I left Scott and his family because the first time we went was the beginning of the end of Timile having a normal pregnancy among a myriad of other thoughts and feelings running around in my head.
Walking down Broadway, I reached 23rd street and I remembered where I was. 936 Broadway was Soundtrack Studios: where my father used to work for a few years. Soundtrack was a famous recording studio where some of everything has been recorded there. My father worked the night shift and it seemed like almost every morning he’d tell my sister and I of someone who was famous that was there that night. The person who practically lived there: Busta Rhymes. He recorded his first four albums up there and while he was holed up in the back, I never saw him when I would go to visit my dad. He was almost mythical. When I’d look in the album credits, it would say recorded at Soundtrack Studios, New York, NY but not once did I actually see him. The down payment from our house that finally moved us out of Queens was a royalty check my father received from something he did off of Busta’s first album The Coming.
I used to love going there. It seemed like the coolest thing. It was a major part of the bedrock that made an eleven year old me want to be in the music business. The ride from Queens to Manhattan was filled with so much anticipation, and the ride back always had me looking back at the city and was my motivation to be Puff Daddy one day. It was why I started crafting mixtapes of other people’s songs like they were albums I was producing and one of the reasons I started rapping and producing myself.
After all of the years of looking up to that place thinking it was awesome, my father told me many of the real storied of what went down there. Many of the artists I looked up to he told me were idiots. All anyone did was get fucked up, and many of them never got anything done. He told me about a particular act that I’ve written about on this blog who got high for a week, got nothing done, and he had to call the record company on them and they let that act have it. As I became an adult he’d tell me about the sacrifices he’d made. When he’d get going in his frustrated moments he would say “I turned down jobs on the road to work at Soundtrack. They would have paid more, but I did it for the home. You have no idea how many nights I’d have to clean up vomit and shit because people were getting fucked up.” Something along those lines. He’d say that the place was also a blessing because other doors have opened up from him being there, but it had many other kinds of moments as well.
That became a microcosm of what it is like to be a parent. Lots of cleaning up literal and figurative shit. We work hard to try to take care of our young and do it with a smile. They never know what the smile is actually masking because when you do it right, they never see you actually fretting. The place where my father worked and I thought was magical actually sucked. What on the outside made him one of the coolest people was very blue collar and he never let me know it. Maybe part of that was to keep the dream going; maybe part of is was to keep up the facade of being the superhero. I don’t really know, but I have an idea. Even now, just about all my daughter knows is the smile on daddy’s face. When things become different for us financially and lifestyle-wise all she will know is looking up to her father who takes care of her. She could have a step-mom by then and won’t remember any of this. But I’ll think to myself “You have no idea what I was going through all of those days I just was smiling at you.
Just like the night itself I was walking down Broadway.