Keeping The Spirit Alive

I remember the blond, blue-eyed German girl. She was still young, in her early twenties as she was out in NYC at „The Tunnel“ Hip Hop parties. It was back in the Nineties and it was the place to be. And there was this song, that has been around her since, Queen Pen keeping it real:

Yo, a party ain’t a party ’till it’s ran all through
And leave it to my crew, it’s gon’ be playa proof
After three rounds we gon’ blow off this roof
A party ain’t a party ’til it’s ran all through

Shorty, who you be, you’re staring at me instantly
As I walk into this video I can feel you diggin’ me
Wit’ yo’ glass of Rémy, you had one too many
But still I’m impressed with your wild out Henny
It’s a party and I gotsa run all through
But maybe later on we can chat over booze
See I thought you knew, ain’t no delaying what I’m saying
Want me to rewind and collect on my track, it won’t wait
I said it’s a party, I gotsa run all through
We holding 20 plus we can follow if you choose
See ain’t nothing changed, since the days of the Q
Except the elimination of one or two out my crew
Yes you, but you true I got to browse on through
You can catch me at the bar being shady to my old crew
How I do? Make moves like I shoot
Catch me on the rebound, make at the Tunnel

Yo, a party ain’t a party ’till it’s ran all through
And leave it to my crew, it’s gon’ be playa proof
After three rounds we gon’ blow off this roof
A party ain’t a party ’til it’s ran all through

Going out to parties back then, she often has been the only white girl around. Still she felt the urge of going there, she somehow felt drawn to it. Some called her “Sister”. Some older ladies wondered that she generally is such a nice girl, but why is she listening to Hip Hop?Why Hip Hop? Her heart is “Hip Hop”, it’s her love story. It’s her heartbeat, the language that touches her heart and soul. Although her life started and took place a few thousand miles away on a different continent, she always felt a strong connection. B’Boys – B’Girls – Just B(E)

She didn’t care how others would feel about this. She knew it is a part that none could take away from her.

Music always has been a big part of her life. She always was into music. Music is her passion. It gave her spirit and wings to fly away from regular and boring life in Germany. She enjoyed hanging out with her boys from the hood and being into break-dance as she was 5 or 6 years old. She enjoyed free concerts as part of blog parties. She went to concerts at a young age, she was only sweet 14 as she started joining shows on her own. Since ever she went to as many concerts, she hardly can remember all of them. She hardly ever called herself a fan of anyone, she just had to be part of the “happenings”. Numerous concerts, showcases and so on. Besides writing for magazines, she later ended up working in the music industry. It went without saying that she worked for record companies, promoters offices and artist management.

…But before all that was happening, she was this curious young girl, who wanted to conquer the world. She practiced English while talking to crew and artists backstage at concerts. Hanging out at these place became her second home. She was not scared. It was something she had to do. She early had to learn to deal with strong men, her own sexuality and her intention to remain “untouched”, a girl who is not taken advantage of. She decided to become the girl next door, the girl you enjoy hanging out with, the friend.

In the Nineties she met this manager of an Hip Hop artist, who invited her over to California to work for him as a nanny to his daughter. She was flattered, knowing this would bring her closer to one of her favorite artists, Tupac Shakur. It was very tempting to go for it, but back then, her heart was mainly beating for the East Coast. Her first big love was from NYC, Brooklyn. And she simply had to go there because of him… Even more, she always called herself a Beastie Girl, and her favorite bands, the Beastie Boys and Onyx are from NYC too. She was attracted to New York. To her, it was the place where she felt home. NYC, her place to be. A young girl, far away from home. And then life happens…

Her first parties at The Tunnel almost have been something like a culture shock. She was surprised to learn that the parties even went on at the unisex bathrooms. It really was going on there…

Sometimes she made trips down to Brooklyn to hang out with some of her friend. She met people, she probably shouldn’t have met and talked to anyone, no matter where they were from. She got reminded in her guardian angel over and over again. An angel protected her back in the days and sure had a busy job, she repeatedly discovered it. She also enjoyed chilling at Coney Island Beach. Once she had been at a video shooting for a Levi’s commercial with Lenny Kravitz in Brooklyn. She heard a shooting near by, as she was heading home in a limousine. Crazy life, she choose for herself.

In 1996 she was in shock looking at the news on TV saying that 2Pac got into a drive-by shooting and was in critical condition in hospital. She was praying and was totally devastated as he died. She always felt like Tupac’s soul was somehow well known to hers. They have never met, she missed that chance. On her favorite radio station, Hot 97, they continuously spoke about the East-Coast West-Coast beef. They made a tribute radio show for 2Pac, playing his songs and having his artist’s friends talk about him. Since English is not her mother language, it sometimes was hard for a young German girl to follow.

One thing I understood (and it lasted with me since) was a poem, that Tupac Shakur wrote. One of his friends read it on the radio, after his passing away. Unfortunately I don’t remember which lady read it to the audience, but the poem sure got tattooed into my heart and soul. Tupac’s soul is living on and it remains a part of anyone, who was lucky to make a connection with this extraordinary talented young man. I would love to share this poem with you. I always felt it says it all:

I know I’ve seen your soul before  

by Tupac Shakur

There are things we can’t explain
So we usually tend to ignore
The unpleasant side to the human race
Like poverty and war
Déjà vu when I cry
When I see you I realize it even more
I know your heart like I know mine
Because I’ve seen your soul before

I recognize your tear drops
And the clouds inside your head
I related to your sorrow
And every word you said
The creator did so many things
But we never realize what for
Now I know why I met you
Because I’ve seen your soul before

The space between your heart and mind
It’s sometimes called the soul
The personification to your morals
And your emotional control
Stronger than the human spirit
The human soul
You can’t ignore it
Faster than your thoughts
Because I’ve seen your soul before

…One year after the loss of 2Pac, she met her number one band the Beastie Boys and Adam Yauch at the second Tibetan Freedom Festival. She was one of 50.000 attendees at Randall’s Island, NYC. That sure was inspiring. It left a lasting imprint.

Back in Germany, she started a career in the music business. Although her heart still is beating for Hip Hop, she even joined a Hip Hop band life on stage and translated their words for the German audience, she decided to stay away from the spotlight and remain one of the ladies you meet backstage. One of the invisible VIPs who keep the show going and the fire burning. As she was working for a promoter’s office, she came across Rock, Metal, Alternative and Crossover music. She was one of the first people to see Linking Park perform on a small stage in Germany, Hamburg, before they had their break through over here. She felt attracted to Chester’s way of expressing himself, his voice, his lyrics and she was deeply touched by him and his songs.

She was lucky to meet the Beastie Boys again on one of the big Festivals in Germany and stood in front of their dressing room doors, taking a deep bow and not daring to interrupt her idol.

She proudly says that only a few rare times, she called herself a fan of someone. And yes, she is a fan of Tupac. She is a fan of the Beastie Boys and Adam Yauch. She is a fan of Linkin Park and Chester Bennington. And she lost all her idols, all her superstars are dead. Rest in peace, your exceptional talent touched us deeply. We always will be connected, your spirit lives on – in your music and within us!

|| Back to life out here in Germany.

As anything happens at the right place, the right time and whenever the circumstances are right too, I always get excited when I realize that “die Kreise sich schließen” (translation: when the circles are closing). Many stories for that. One of my best friends is a manger to an American Rap artist. I met him during one of his shows in Hamburg. Over the years we became close friends. The last time I met him was only a few years ago, when his artist performed in a big stadium in Berlin. I was invited to stay at the fancy hotel for a couple of days, doing regular stuff such as sightseeing and speaking about German history. I felt like part of the crew and was able to give a little inside on Germany. By the way, it was that friend introducing me to the life of a Real Rock’N’Rolla, I know by heart– I am a Real Rock’N’Rolla too.

Nowadays I say “been there, done that”. I am “old school”. I still own a record player, some vinyls, a cassette tape recorder and tapes. I’m happy, I’m part of this history. I’m part of the people who really loved music and who made it become part of their life and their identity. It makes me smile if I hear the young ones out here, listening to German Rap Music. It always makes me giggle, as this hasn’t been popular back in the days. Nowadays Hip Hop culture became universal, it changed, adapted to different cultures and circumstances…

And the spirit live on, it always does.

Hip Hop at heart.

One love.

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