eyes opened wide.

My Journey to the 2011 UMA’s

Autor admin | 24.08.2011 | Category Uncategorized

Only for my best friend’s wedding would I find myself on a mountaintop in California on the morning of the Underground Music Awards, at which I was nominated for Lyricist of the Year and Indie Album of the Year.  The plan was for me to hop in a cab at 4AM, fly from Santa Barbara to LAX to Newark, hop in a cab and be in Manhattan for the award show by 6:30, ready to find out the results of my nominations. This would mean I was to miss the red carpet and pre-show press events, but I kinda feel like whatever to all that anyway.  The show was slated to begin at 8:00, which in hip-hop time probably meant 9:30.  So the plan was solid.  Awesome.

The wedding’s after-after-party ended around 3AM and I stumbled into my hotel room around 3:30, with a half-hour to kill before making the environmental transition from matrimony to mayhem.  A homey of mine whom I was sharing the hotel room with was walking right behind me as I entered the room, so I sat on the bed with the darkness of dawn encapsulating me as I awaited his entrance.  Then I sat back, then I leaned back, and suddenly I was horizontal.  The next thing I knew someone’s alarm was going off and my eyes were met with a digital clock’s announcement that it was 7 AM.

The homey of mine was not walking right behind me; he was off in a different hotel room, exploring carnal experiences with a girl person.

Ok so I had lost my cab, missed my flight, and was stranded on this mountain. And some dude I didn’t know, who was wise enough to set an alarm clock for himself, was apparently in this room as well, surprised by my being.  He stumbled towards the bathroom as I called American Airlines, desperate for a solution.  They hooked me up with a seat on an 11 AM flight out of LAX (a solid 3 hour drive from where I was, currently, without a car) that would get me into JFK at 7:45.  I’d miss the early portions of the show, which was acceptable, but I somehow had to first get to this flight.  The mystery dude emerged, asked me my deal, and I told him I needed to get on this AA flight at 11:00 to JFK.  “Oh,” he replied nonchalantly, “that’s my flight.  I’m driving there right now, let’s go.”  Miraculous.

So we drive, discussing lots of intense political and anthropological theories in our mutual state of confusion, perplexity and anonymity.  We arrive at the airport, drop off the rental car, and I’m on my phone making plans with some NYC people to meet me at the award show at certain times and locations.  And then we discover that our flight is delayed a minimum of two hours.  Apparently the rain in NYC is still falling.  And I will now be irrecoverably late to this event.

We meandered to the gate, downcast and despondent.  I started calling back all my NYC people, telling them to forget it, as the new plan was to simply wait and see what happens.  I found myself standing at a charging hub, plugging in my cell phone and laptop, prepping for a flight of melancholy.  And then Talib Kweli walks up to the hub, calmly looking for an outlet for his laptop.  Phenomenal.

It turns out he was scheduled to be on the 11 AM flight in order to attend a show in NYC for which he too would now be tardy.  Although he wasn’t headed to the UMA’s, he was aware of the event and was sincerely congratulatory on my nominations.  We chopped it up about the NYC underground scene, the Rock The Bells Tour that he was currently in the middle of, and various other standard hip-hop topics (including how dope Homeboy Sandman is, clearly).  After the homey Kosha Dillz floated by, looking for his flight to Chicago, I decided to leave Talib to his own world, which I’m sure he was adequately living in before being introduced to my existence.  Predictably, before announcing my departure from our shared space, I handed him a copy of my album and my business card, declaring, “This is the album of mine that’s up for album of the year.”  How many times did I ever think I would do/say this to Talib Kweli in my life? Astounding.

So I met back up with the miraculous roommate driver man, and we caught some food and marveled at the turn of events.  Suddenly the two-hour delay had come to a temporal end and we moseyed back to the gate.  We stood with our carry-on bags in hand, waiting for our respective groups to be called – and then 50 Cent appeared.  And he was grumpy.  I’ve heard 50 talk greasy and act tough on songs a countless amount of times, but to see him slumped in an airport seat cursing at a rainstorm as unsuspecting children quickly retreated to their uninformed parents’ sides was nothing short of hilarious. Hilarious.

The next thing I know I’m on the plane seated beside some woman with an iPhone and iPad and iMakeup and iDidn’t like her but whatever. I was chillin.  Then the miraculous roommate driver man texted me with an amusing declaration, “So, I’m sitting next to that rapper guy.” I craned my neck up and around a bunch of seats to see this Harvard/Columbia grad sitting next to Talib, who clearly is cool enough to fly coach while 50 sat in a throne made of unicorn teeth.  Amazing.

So we flew.  And I wrote.  And we landed.  And it was 9:45.  Is the award show over?  Did it start?  I hit Twitter immediately and my phone was loading while the plane was unloading.  I scrolled and searched and sought and suddenly saw that Sir So Soon, a friend of mine also nominated for a UMA, had tweeted, “Shouts to @JesseAbraham for taking home the UMA in his category!”  Oh, I won…something.  Was it Album of the Year?  Lyricist of the Year?! Whatever, something good had happened.  I texted my peoples in NYC, announcing my arrival and stating I’d be at the award show in about an hour.  I kept peeping my mentions on Twitter, and noticed that Talib, while flying, had tweeted, “Flying thru the skies tweetin. @50cent @tonyyayo @DJWhooKid @jesseabraham all on this flight. It’s Soul Plane!” Wow.

We started filing out of the plane, and suddenly I found myself walking parallel with Talib.  So we casually continued our earlier conversation, joking about the lightning and mentioning that I saw his tweet.  I somehow brought up the fact that I was performing in a show at Southpaw in a few days and would be delighted if he would come through.  Turns out Talib loves Southpaw.  I noted that Brooklyn-native Skyzoo was headlining.  Turns out Talib is a big fan of Skyzoo.  I mentioned that I had won Lyricist of the Year and would be celebrating the honor that night as well.  Turns out Talib is a supporter of lyrics, and he affirmed his plans to attend the show. Dope.

He got in his car headed towards Brooklyn Bowl and I got in a cab headed towards the UMA’s.  I showed up with about an hour left in the event, carrying luggage and garment bags and exhaustion.  Eventually I found my way to the frenzied backstage area to get my hands on the trophy, and ended up doing some interviews and kicking some rhymes, all in a state of tranquil serenity.  It turned out that Reks had won Album of the Year, but I was more than pleased with my achievement of being named the 2011 Lyricist of the Year.  I networked a bit, took in the scene for a few, and said whatup to a handful of friends.  My phone’s battery was nearly expired and my adrenaline, which had been keeping me ticking for the past 72 hours, was fading.  I tweeted about the victory once more, noticed that Talib was now following me on Twitter, and turned off the phone.  Award in one arm and smelly wedding clothes in another, I trooped back home.  Word.