The phone rang. It was LPD. She was stuck in Route 3 traffic and her thoughts were wandering with regard to some leftovers as well -- musical ones. Apparently she's been playing "Pop Goes the Weasel" by 3rd Bass for Sweet Baby James and he's been digging it. For those unfamiliar, 3rd Bass -- MC Serch, Primeminister Pete Nice and DJ Richie Rich -- was an interracial rap act, popular in the early 90s, the antithesis of Vanilla Ice. With early 90s hip hop on the brain, a question popped into LPD's head like a squirrel tryin' to get a nut, 16 years later, on Route 3 by Babies R Us in Braintree.
"Remember we went to see that 3rd Bass concert at UMass," she asked.
Remember? Yes, of course I remember. An odder crew has never assembled for a show since: LPD and I, some gazelle-wearing Dorchester boys and gaggle of future jarheads of America made the pilgrimage together. It was a standout evening for more reasons than its mere unlikelihood.
"Why was there a press conference?"
I'd nearly forgotten. It was a strange event, one that we never questioned at the time. It was not the typical meet-and-greet that served as a prelude to shows on college campuses, but a very formal media event, like a debriefing after a Red Sox game or a political scandal. Journalists were barking out some serious questions at 3rd Bass. At this preshow gathering, there were no musical discussions or free swag but blistering discussions of 90s zeitgeist: the white appropriation of hip hop culture, the use of rap as a political vehicle, etc. LPD and I -- out of our element and giggling behind a blue student press pass -- decided to elevate the dialogue further. We also wanted to engage Pete Nice who had something of a Sean Penn thing going on.
I stood up, giddy from the slushy Bud Light in the car ride over, and smashed the intellectual glass ceiling: “Mr. Primeminister, what’s with all the Elvis references?"
Pete Nice turned serious and stood up from the table.
Oh my God. Why is he standing up? What is he doing!? LPD and I clutched each other's sleeves. A hush fell over the room as Pete Nice swung his trademarked pimped-out cane and busted into a very animated response:
“Yo, you know it’s like 'Yo, I’m Elvis with the words of wisdom,'” he rapped. Then he winked at us and slowly sat back down.
“Ok. Thank you, Primeminister, Thank you. hee hee.”
Pete Nice, elemental like uranium
"Seriously what was that all about?" LPD was still bewildered. I still had no answer. It was one bizarre evening in a decade that could launch 1000 whys on any given topic. Why were we hanging with those dudes? Why were we all wearing baseball hats? Why did Auntie run me over?
Maybe the "why" lies in a simple Latin phrase I've committed to memory: "Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit." Translation: "One day we will look back on these things and laugh." Which is exactly what we did this morning.
After LPD and I hung up, I did not chuck the turkey into the woods to deteriorate in relative obscurity like my old 3rd Bass CDs. Instead I downloaded "Derelicts of Dialect" off iTunes and relished the musical leftovers while tossing out the Thanksgiving ones.
Random: A Google search shows that Pete Nice is now a sports historian and documentary filmmaker. Good for you, Mr. Primeminister Sinister.