Les Ardentes, 16/07/2009
If you don’t, I highly recommend you to catch up on that one. It shines a light on my quest in a very ‘no pain, no gain’ kinda way. But, you know what they say: ‘By perseverance the snail reached the ark.’
Grand Master Flash was booked for the Les Ardentes festival. He was a headliner, playing from midnight till 02h30. Now, after GMF did his gig a couple of months ago in Depot, Leuven, he wasn’t really spared from criticism. It is a fact that he didn’t come back on stage to greet the audience. It is a fact that he didn’t do an ecnore. Not that this is obligated, but, if the public screams your name, to say your final greetings, why would you not return the respect? He will have his reasons, I guess. Word is, that while his entourage was packing the records, he was already waiting in the car, ready to get the hell out of there… Word is, that Mr Grand Master Flash is not very…easy…sort of speak. Neither is he outgoing nor social. The critics were tough on him the next day on Belgium’s radio Studio Brussels…. But hey…maybe it was all exaggerated? Maybe it was all ‘he said, she said bullshit’?
So while I was waiting for Grand Master Flash to finish his set, I – again – heard some rumors that he had very high demands, and that he wasn’t the easiest person to catch and make some conversation with. Basically, I heard that he just wasn’t nice. Period. I was warned. But there was no wày I was letting him walk out on me a second time. Not with the major exceptional good conditions I was surrounded with. Remember? Full access, under, next and behind the stage with my crew-member bracelet? (Read the Kid Cudi story)
All of a sudden, I see him going off stage. Just like that. He was walking very fast off stage, and I could see him disappear in the darkness of that giant lodge behind the stage. He was all alone, no entourage, no other photographers, nobody. This was my moment. Jules and I started running towards him. I slowed down when I approached him, while gently ticking him on the shoulder. “Excuse me Mr….” He abruptly stopped and turned around. He looked…aggravated? Surprised by his reaction, I hear my voice trembling. “Hello, Mr, uhm..Grand Master…would it please be possible to take a Polaroid picture of you, I have this little project, where I take mainly hiphop, soul, rap artist on Polaroid. A while a go, I also did the Sugar Hill Gang, and…” He looked at me real mad and snapped: “I am NOT the Sugar Hill gang” while looking behind and to his left or right, uncomfortable, and clearly nòt wanting to be there where he was.
You know, I start to get used to unexpected reactions but I do admit, I was a bit shocked by his. (I’m an every day learning music freak, but, excuse me, I know that he is NOT the Sugarhill Gang, I mean, come on.) “Uhm…I didn’t tell you, you were…, right?” (Is there some beef that I don’t know about between them, clearly they ain’t best buddies, but I mean, since they are from the same decade, I thought it might be interesting to at least mention them? NOT.) He looked at me, and in his eyes, I could see that he knew that his answer was just a bìt over the line. I was asking the question in a very polite manner, with the help of Bambi-eyes. (doesn’t always work trust me, Vanessa Rabitt is a much bigger success, but for some reason it takes more time and alcohol to dig her up)
“So…can I….take..one…?” “Please?” He sighed (deeply), knodded (with a little’ arrrghh-Ok-then), and looked at my camera. (in the exact meaning of the word, ‘looking’.) 3.2.1. Flashing. Lights. Bingo. I shook his hands, thanked him a million times, and told him how much I appreciated his cooperation. He immediately left, chased by a small camera crew who spotted the man because of my Polaroid flashing in the dark lodge. (They were running after him, with 6..yeah right..not gonna happen)
I saw how shocked they were, when he yelled something and turned completely the other way around, almost running away from them. Me? I was just shaking that Polaroid picture.
Word is that he stopped playing in the middle of his set, although he was normally playing for at least 30 more minutes. Word is that he is a very difficult person, and doesn’t really handle the huss & fuss towards an artist anymore. Word is, that I just got lucky.
Well, you can look at it in a certain way, but we never really know what is in that mans head. He will probably have his reasons, reacting the way he does. We can only respect him for what he is, and what he stands for. And about being lucky…? Waiting for 3 hours in the dark, next to a stage while you see a crowd of 1000 or more having the time of their life, while you are fighting against Mr Sandman is not luck. It’s called perseverance.