As they walked, her mind again raced. She knew which flow she was going to spit, but she went over it repeatedly to make sure she “had it”. She went through a litany of thoughts: 1. “What am I gon’ do with my advance money?” 2.”What kind of car am I gon’ get?” 3. “Speaking of cars, where the hell did Tae get that Riviera from?”
Her mental vacation stopped as they entered the third door on the right. The room was like nothing she’d ever seen before. The furniture was so contemporary that it didn’t even look like furniture. Each piece looked like it was designed for astronauts. Polygon shaped couches were scattered on top of the pillow soft carpet. The walls were adorned with gold and platinum records- and other memorabilia from past successful studio sessions. The room was filled to capacity. There were at least 20 people sitting around, drinking, smoking and bullshitting. There was one white dude sitting at the mixing board. He was the only person who was actually working. He appeared to be doing surgery, carefully twisting knobs and pressing buttons- while the beat blasted in the background. Through the smoke, Charmayne could see Shadow sitting in a rolling chair bobbing his head to the beat. The scene was a lot different than she had pictured it. She expected to smell incense and hear people talking about the plight of Black folks world wide. Instead, there were niggas shooting craps. There was the odor of cheap weed. There were (unless her eyes deceived her) what appeared to be groupies- quite a few of them.
“What up Shadow, this is Tae. He said he got a broad that can spit some hot shit,” said some random cat with gold teeth.
“What up, Brotha,” Shadow greeted Tae as if they’d known each other for years. “You got something for me to hear?”
The entire room seemed to be hanging on his every word, as all activity stopped when he started talking. Charmayne slowly stepped into the forefront. Her pulse was like an 808 at this point. The room was so quiet that the thought crossed her mind, “What if they can hear my heart pounding?”.
“Shadow, this is Charmayne. Charmayne, MC Shadow,” Tae’s voice was calm- with a tinge of excitement sprinkled on his vowels.
“Charmayne, pleased to meet you. Can you spit as good as this nigga say you can spit?” Shadow questioned, as his eyes scanned her barely legal body.
“Probably better,” Charmayne’s rebuttal caused the entire room to let out a collective chuckle.
“Fuck! Cracker, throw on a beat. Let me hear this girl bust! Her mouthpiece is ridiculous. I’m a little bit scared,” Shadow’s condescending sarcasm was a bit charming to Charmayne, but she stayed focused. As the beat dropped, she closed her eyes and let loose…
When she was done, she heard a couple of “God Damn’s” from the folks who were standing around. She saw some of them smiling uncontrollably, or trying to give her dap. None of that mattered. All she cared about was how Shadow responded. The tough thing about that was the fact that Shadow had a poker face that Kenny Rogers would be proud of. He looked straight ahead, with a blank stare. He said nothing.
Tae broke the awkward silence.
“So what do you think,” he blurted.
Shadow’s face now looked pensive, almost perplexed. He was rubbing his chin. His right leg bounced rhythmically. It was like he was still hearing a beat- but the entire room was silent.
“Everybody out, except her and Cracker,” he demanded.
The “stand-around” folks grumbled as they made their way out of the studio, and into the waiting room. Tae stood still.
“You too, dog. No offense,” Shadow’s voice sounded like he meant business.
Tae’s smart ass mouth was about to click into gear, when Charmayne caught his eye with a “nigga, get your ass out of here, I can handle myself” type of look.
Tae took a deep breath.
“A’ight, I’ll be right out in the hallway,” he replied as he exited.
So now it was really on. MC frickin’ Shadow just asked her to spit, and then cleared out the room to talk to her. What did this mean? Her heart was damn near jumping out of her chest. Her throat felt like it would burst into flames if she tried to utter a word. Her hands were like blocks of ice. What the fuck was about to happen? Without warning, her mouth opened, and leaked a sentence.
“Hey, I’m sorry about that. Tae is just really protective,” she was sincerely apologetic- as she didn’t want Tae’s retarded-ness to mess up her only shot at superstardom.
“It’s cool. I was like that with my first little girlfriend too,” Shadow responded.
“HE AIN’T MY BOYFRIEND!” Charmayne couldn’t help sounding like a fifth grader who just heard the word “coodies”. She may have even said “ewwww gross” under her breath.
Shadow chuckled at Charmayne’s brief moment of immaturity. “So you’re single,” he asked as he licked his lips in a borderline creepy manner.
“Basically,” she innocently replied.
After a very uncomfortable 45 seconds of silence, Shadow swiveled his chair around so that he was facing Cracker.
“What’d you think of her shit?”
“Oh, I thought she had dynamic wordplay. Her lyrics had vivid imagery made her sound almost like a Nas/MC Lyte/ Big Daddy Kane concoction. She’s definitely bad ass.
“Bad ass??” Shadow damn near fell out of his chair laughing. Charmayne was cheesing on the inside. Once he regained his composure, Shadow swiveled back around to Charmayne.
“Well, I agree. I definitely like what I heard,” his words were music to her ears. “..And what I see". (cue the sound of a record scratching) "This game is full of a bunch of ugly, half dyke looking hoes who can barely spit. To find something as fine as you, so young. That shit is rare.”
A couple of questions popped into her head. 1: “Why does he keep talking about how fine I am? He ain’t said shit about my rap skills.” 2: “Why does this white boy let them call him Cracker?” 3: “Did MC Shadow just refer to women as ‘hoes’?”
“Thank you. I just try to put my all in every line, every word,” with that sentence- she officially felt like a star, so much so that she hadn’t paid attention to how close Shadow was to her. Their noses were damn near touching. She could smell Newports, weed, and Heineken on his breath.
“I’m gon’ make you rich,” Shadow whispered, in his pseudo-mack daddy voice. It hit her ears and literally sounded like a demon’s call from hell. Charmayne jumped back quick as fuck.
“I-I-I gotta go,” she quickly stammered.
“Why?” Shadow was still whispering demon words. He sounded like a possessed Barry White. “What about the business? We need to talk about getting this dough,” Charmayne had never met a pedophile in real life, but she was quite sure that this is what a pedophile sounds like.
“You need to talk to Tae, then,” she blurted as she pushed him away.
“Fuck Tae!” Shadow’s voice was getting more hostile. “That cat ain’t gon get you nowhere. You need to get down with the movement.”
“What movement?” she was giving Shadow one last chance.
“This movement..,” he started making obscene gestures with his hand and cheek, insinuating oral sex. He made himself crack up laughing.
“Fuck you, you bitch ass nigga! I thought you were gon’ be about something. You’re just another washed up ass weed head with a dingy coofi,” Charmayne let loose on him, as she stormed toward the door.
“Yeah, but I get money,” Shadow was as smug as ever. “So, I’m missing the point of this conversation- are we fucking or what?”
Charmayne burst through the door, into the hallway. Her eyes were on fire. Her hands felt like blocks of cement. She was too angry to see faces, she just saw a bunch of shapes meandering against the wall.
“Come on Tae,” she yelled- to no one in particular.
Tae was in the middle of a dice game, but came trotting quickly behind her. Soon he was stepping stride for stride with her, at a break-neck pace.
“What’d he say? Charmayne, why the fuck are we walking so fast?”
Charmayne ignored him, and never slowed her stride. She was fuming. She could feel flames coming out of her eyes and nostrils. As they walked past the crowd of on-lookers, one girl rudely asked, “Did he make you rich?” Four other girls started cracking up laughing. It was apparent from their laughter that they too were once bright eyed aspiring “what-evers” who eventually fell into Shadow’s sick web of perversion. The motive behind their laughter was not mockery. Instead there was an underlying air of “been there done that”, which just happened to manifest itself in the form of the most embarrassing moment in Charmayne’s life.
Shadow was a complete and total asshole who cared about nothing more than busting a nut. But if everyone knew that, then why in the hell were they so eager to sit around and basically ride his jock for hours upon hours on end? Her furious thoughts were interrupted by the Barry White voice again.
“See you at the Grammy’s, my sister,” he stated in a pseudo-“conscious” tone.
Charmayne glanced back, only to see him with his fist raised (mimicking the Black Power symbol), which made all of his jock-riders laugh heartily, and added kerosene to the already raging inferno in her chest.
After what seemed to be 5 hours of walking down the hallway, Tae and Charmayne were finally outside.
“Charmayne!” Tae was now grabbing her by the shoulders so that they were stopped, and standing face to face. “What the fuck happened?”
After a few moments of trying to hold back tears, Charmayne responded.
“He liked how I rapped, but he wanted me to go down on him.”
“Go down where with him?” Tae was genuinely confused.
She attempted to spell it out for him- word for word. “He—wanted—me—to..,” the words became trapped somewhere between her vocal chords and teeth, forming a lump in her throat. “Tae, I don’t wanna talk about it, I just wanna go home.”
“Tae. Please. Can we go?” tears poured down her face.
Tae instantly understood. He held her arm as they slowly walked to the car. The shittiest part of the night was yet to come, because as they got to the spot where they parked the car, they realized the car was gone.