“Yo, I was going 2 buck we roam / Cellular phones
Doc-Meth back in the flesh, blood and bones /
Don’t condone / Spend bank loans on homegrown /
Suckers break like Turbo and Ozone” –
Da Rockwilder – Method Man and Redman
A few months ago, I heard the news: Method Man and Redman would be performing in Baltimore, Maryland at Ram’s Head Live. I didn’t have tickets, I had no art ready, and I had a conflicting engagement that would prevent me from attending. This logistical trifecta insured that I would have to wait for another opportunity to catch them live. Serendipitously, a few days before the show, news emerged that the duo would be rescheduling their performance for May 4th, 2017. I didn’t find out what happened, and I didn’t really care. I realized that this turn of events afforded me a window of time to pull some art together and get this show on my calendar.
My fellow artist and friend, Kevin Carmody, had previously made plans to attend the show. After going back and forth, we each decided to render a portrait of one member of the duo. Kevin would draw Method Man, and I would draw Red. It was a mad dash to pull the portraits together, as the show was quickly approaching.
After several phone conversations, and inviting my buddy Malcolm to meet us down there, it was time to make some art. Kevin’s piece raised the bar, as he used graphite and ink to capture Meth’s scowling mug perfectly.
The gauntlet was thrust down, and I was next to artistically answer the call. I got a hold of two fresh sheets of 32″ x 40″ corrugated cardboard, and researched photographic portraits of Reggie Noble (a.k.a. Redman). In some instances a competitive vibe might have emerged between artists, but I can honestly say that I was inspired by Kevin’s work. It made me want to draw. It made me want to connect with our subjects. I knuckled down, and got to work. After many hours of cutting in the shadows, and attempting to render believable, appealing gradients, I reached for my white charcoal. It’s here that the cardboard, graphite, and white media combine to generate a volumetric and realistic effect. When I looked up from my drawing, many hours had elapsed. I decided to prop the composition up on the far side of the room. At the end of prolonged studio sessions, I find it important to get away from the drawing for a few minutes. I leave the room without looking back at the piece. This way, when I return, I will see the image with fresh eyes. Some artists even turn the drawing upside-down in order to insure the visual balance and overall success of the composition. I did a lap around the house, purposely staying away from the studio space. When I returned, I saw my finished Redman artwork.
Feeling better about our readiness to go to the show with art in hand, both Kevin and I changed our original plans. We continued to draw, and each of us managed to pull together a second portrait. Our excitement had turned into four separate pieces of art. We were all set. I pulled the Madina-designed ‘Celebration of the Golden Era‘ poster off the wall, stuck it in the folder with the artwork, and packed up the car.
After work, I drove to Federal Hill, in Baltimore, to fuel up with food. I was too early to meet Kevin and Malcolm, and I decided to move over to Fells Point for a while. Once I re-parked the car, I dropped in to Soundgarden to check out some vinyl. The date was May 4th, and my thoughts drifted to Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch. It was five years ago that he passed away. I remembered that this particular record shop has a small reminder of this sad truth, and I went to find the miniature tribute. It was still there, and I snapped a quick flick.
For old time’s sake, I snagged a new Beastie Boys shirt to commemorate the moment, and then I was on my way.
We arrived at the Power Plant Live area around 6:00 pm. Doors to Ram’s Head Live open at 7:00, and the show wouldn’t be starting until 8:00. There were a ton of opening acts, which led us to believe that Red and Meth wouldn’t be going on until after 9:00 or 10:00. It’s just a reality of going to see these live shows, that there will be a lot of late nights. We decided to go around the back of the venue to see where the talent would be entering. There was a small bunch of people milling about, and we struck up a conversation with a burly, stone-faced security guard. He was unimpressed with our work, and seemingly uninterested in anything except his pre-show break and the cigarette pursed between his lips. He leaked that the headliners would likely not be getting to the venue until after 10:00, and encouraged us to find another place to hang out. As we walked away, we wondered aloud whether or not he was just trying to get rid of us.
At that point, we heard from Malcolm. He’d be meeting us any minute, and we’d get some dinner and take our time going in to the venue. There didn’t seem to be a need to rush.
We hung out for awhile, swapping stories, and catching up. As showtime neared, we decided to scout the area around back one more time. As we approached, we noticed more people hanging around, and all manner of Wu Tang Clan shirts and hats, indicating that we were in the right place. A friendly photographer walked up, and asked us about our large folders. “Do you all have art in there?” He asked to see our work, and we happily shared our wares. We connected on Instagram, and found his photography striking. It seemed that, while he was working the show, he also had some hard copy photos inside, waiting to be signed.
As we finished our conversation, Kevin asked him “Are Red and Meth here yet?”. The photographer said, “Naw, they still at the Renaissance. They’ll be over later”. At this, a little light bulb went on above my head. The Renaissance Harborplace Hotel is about three blocks from where we were standing. Together, Malcolm, Kevin, and I decided to walk over there to catch them before the show.
We got over there in less than five minutes, and settled in to some comfortable and fancy chairs in the lobby. It was a nice change of pace. It was a quiet night, and we had room to spread out and talk. Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of someone walking by wearing a yellow hoodie. I said, “Kevin, there goes someone!” He hopped up out of his chair, and realized almost immediately, that it was Method Man. Kevin said “Hey, I’ve got some art to show you, do you have a minute?” Meth, was heading to a hallway, and said “Hold on a second, I’ll be right back. I want to see it!” He disappeared for about thirty seconds, and just when I was wondering if he would come back at all, he walked right over to our small group.
He leaned over to see Kevin’s portrait, and was visibly impressed. “That’s dope! Yeah, I’ve seen this on-line”. He enthusiastically signed it, and turned towards my drawing. After signing mine, and tagging the ‘Golden Era poster’, he agreed to take a few pictures. It was a great few minutes. He let us know that Red would be down a little later.
It was getting late now, and we were surprised at the lack of urgency there was in getting to a packed show a few blocks away. In the meantime, I heard from ‘Mike from Philly’. He had driven down to see the show, and texted me from the venue. “I’m here. Where are you?”. I let him know we were a few blocks away, and he quickly joined us. Although he was disappointed that he missed Meth, it was great to have the four of us together for a show. A few minutes later, Method Man came back through, and Mike got a chance to connect with him. It turned out well, after all.
When Redman finally emerged, we approached him with our artwork. He graciously signed our pieces, and posed for a few pictures. Mission: Accomplished. As soon as we expressed our thanks, and after all of the pictures had been snapped, we realized we’d better run over to the venue to catch the beginning of the show.
Ultimately, the duo took the stage at 11:15. They were high-energy and funny; spraying the crowd with their bottled water between songs. I was impressed with their passion and their connection to the audience. It was a great set, and I’m glad I was able to catch them live. Admittedly, I cut the night short, and left before the last song was played. I had to work the next day, and I had a long drive home. When I went back outside, with music still playing in my wake, I noticed that it had started to rain. I quickened my pace until I reached the garage. As I jumped in the car, and pointed my car towards home, I reflected on another exciting mission. It was great to be with Mike, Kevin, and Malcolm, and I look forward to seeing where the music will take us next. Thanks guys! – AK