“I can’t handle no liquor…and these b***hes, they can’t handle me….” — Chief Keef, on “Hold No Liquor”, from Kanye’s Yeezus
“…I got my feet up on your Mama Mabel’s mother’s mother’s mother’s three-generation table/You know the one where you can’t put a drink down without a coaster…slam it on ya mama’s pride and joy/Boy, you gon get a whippin...” — Abstract Rude, from Aceyalone’s “Feet Upon da Table”
You don’t wanna be that person. You know…every time you go back to your friend’s house, the table stain makes you recall, “Oh yeah, that’s right…I remember when THAT happened…” The person that every host is wary of handing a glass to, as you’re known as “The Point of No Return”. The personified Black Hole of glassware — glasses may enter, but they do not escape. The Pied Piper of Drinking, known for leaving a trail of cocktail drips all over the table behind you.
Though we may hug our Nick-and-Nora glass like our life depends on it, a case of the dropsies is always possible. What can we do to prevent it? In the priceless words of Money Mayweather — protect yourself at ALL times. Step 1: Watch your hand gestures. A little elaboration can go a bit too far, and that’s just what will happen to your Manhattan, as it swishes out of your glass. If you find yourself getting a bit too animated in your art of storytelling, go to Step 2: Secure the glass. A rolling stone gathers no moss, but a glass untouched will not fall over — shouts to Confucius on that one.
Once your glass is firmly cemented on the table, you can feel free to give all the hugs and handshakes you can muster, or throw your hands in the air like you just don’t care — about your drink leaving a stain. But not without paying attention to Step 3: Grab a coaster before you set your drink down. Every host doesn’t have as complimentary a coaster as the set pictured above, but a cocktail napkin will do the same. And unless your main skillet has a rug made of genuine alpaca, why not place the drink on the rug? A little condensation never hurt anyone….but those feet, hmmmm. On second thought, just grab a coaster and be done with it! Be known as the person who brings the pretty bottles to the party, not the one who leaves the party with ugly stains, broken glass, and ruined carpet. #getcongenial, f-bombs.
Two of Queens’ finest getting congenial. Good to see a classic group taking classic takes to their personal drinking styles & cocktails…although I can see them ordering them with a brown bag around the glass, just to keep it all the way gully. Why not? They’ve come many years since the days of sitting on project benches…pour by your own measure, CNN!
“Me and shorty, from the Mecca, having a session/Play the Shark Bar, sippin’ on French Connection/On the rocks…” — Capone, “Stick You”, The War Report
“Jose Cuervo, no Grand Marnier, drink hard liquor, hard liquor all day/I’m a certified-holic, kid, you know I don’t play, cause…” — Noreaga, “I’m a G”
“And yeah my type, I like ‘em brown, just like my drink, — the f**k you think?” — “The Recipe,” Kendrick Lamar feat. Dr. Dre
We had problems but it’s all in the past/
Everybody got problems baby, algebra class.
Remember I used to do things that’d make you laugh/
Like orderin’ a girl drink in a masculine glass?
You like piña coladas, getting caught in the rain/
Or rocking flannels all summer like Kurt Cobain,
Or that Dolce Gabbana with a few gold chains/
And you the type of girl that probably deserve a new last name….
Rented the whole bottom floor for a candlelight dinner/
Turned the lights out and put my candle right in her,
And told her, “Even though I met you in a club in a tight dress,
At first sight I could picture you in a white dress.” — “White Dress”, Kanye West
Though quite the refined gentleman, the man most commonly known as Andre Benjamin (as well as 3000, Ice Cold, Possum Aloysius Jenkins, Cupid Valentino, and Benjamin Andre, among others) knows how to get down with a cocktail or two. But to share one with him, you’d best be on your p’s & q’s — that stands for Pinots and Qualitatswein, by the way, not pints and quarts….
“Then go grab the finest wine and drink it like we know which grape and which region it came from, as if we can name ‘em/
Hint hint, it ain’t, um, Welch’s.
Hell, just fell three thousand more degrees cooler/
Ya’ll can’t measure my worth, but when you try, you’ll need a ruler made by all the Greek gods…” — “Sixteen”, by Rick Ross feat. Andre 3000
“Corporate forces, is runnin’ this rap s**t…Hennessy, is runnin’ this rap s**t…we poke out our asses for a chance to cash in…” — Mos Def, “The Rape Over”
Some things just don’t get old. Rappers doing tawdry things and conducting tomfoolery while wielding liquor bottles is a combination that has lit up flashbulbs for the past thirty years. Rappers being bought by corporate forces did not begin nor end with MC Hammer doing commercials for KFC’s Popcorn Chicken, and the words of Yaasin Bey still ring true a few years after he aimed at the influence of the “tall Israeli” on hip hop culture.
Has Hennessy Artistry changed the tide? A list of your favorite rapper’s favorite rappers have been seen with them, and if the Trill O.G., Abstract Poetic, Big Illinois, and Illadelph’s finest see no issue or contradiction, I guess we had better roll with the good times and order up a Sidecar or two.
“I’ma show you how to turn it up a notch/
First you get a swimming pool full of liquor, then you dive in it…
Pool full of liquor, then you dive in it.
I wave a few bottles, then I watch em all flock/
All the girls wanna play Baywatch.
I got a swimming pool full of liquor and they dive in it…
Pool full of liquor I’ma dive in it…” — Kendrick Lamar, “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
Swimming pools. Gatherings of people. Often, spirituous libations — commonly known as “drank”. Usually, an exercise of moderation.
In yesterday’s post, I mentioned how we can “follow the breadcrumbs” of our youth to see how it has affected our personal style of imbibing — what, where, and how we drink, or even if we don’t. How we internalized the behavior of others while they were imbibing may help or hinder our relationship with the bottle. It depends on the past experiences. One friend of mine used to have an aunt that would give him a bit of her own homebrew when his mother would visit — he now owns a wonderful drinking place in Cincinnati, enjoyed by many people around town. Another friend once saw a man fall down a set of stairs while intoxicated — he has not taken a drink in any of his adult years.
Kendrick Lamar, the young upstart from Compton, puts forth his perspective in the song, “Swimming Pools (Drank)”, and sides toward moderation. Perhaps if Carrie Nation had been able to ride a beat like Kendrick, she would have held greater sway in her time.
What would you do if you walked up to your favorite watering hole…and your favorite rapper was behind the bar? How would you greet him? Would you order the same thing or sample something different? Would you order something he referenced in a rhyme? Would you try to test his mettle — either asking about the new Grand Marnier Natural Cherry, throw some Cherry Heering in a cocktail, or maybe a bit of kirschwasser, neat — in a bit of a mixology battle?
Soon we’ll be able to answer these questions. #LifeIsGood
“Everything’s good, everything’s fine….yeah, pour a little cherry wine…” — Nas, “Cherrywine”, Life Is Good
[Photos by ME]
“Shut down your operation, closed for business/
Leave a foul taste in your mouth, like Guinness…” — Mobb Deep, “Hell on Earth”
You don’t have to be a fan of Bar Rescue to know that countless drinking places close every day…gone forever, lost to the memories of the former patrons. While there is a range of emotions that set in upon the closing — disappointment, heartache, happiness to some, anger to others — it eventually dissipates as we find another bar stool with our name on it at another establishment. Is that all it takes — on to the next one? What does the literal “Last Call” mean to the built and social fabric of our communities?
What does it mean to the patron? To the common visitor or urban transplant, it’s a lost opportunity to make a new acquaintance, learn something unexpected about their new surroundings, or see that new culture “in action”. This may not resonate with residents, as they may not give the same value to certain places that have “been there forever”. However, it’s a problem for them as well — the next time they want to show a visiting friend what their city is truly like, it may look the same as every other city in FranchiseTown, USA. What made that particular city unique passed on right under their noses, as they didn’t lift a finger to try and prevent it.
Let’s discuss the perspective of the changing city. When all this urban energy and social activity is gone, doesn’t it make our cities feel a bit dormant, just a little empty? Maybe lacking for that excitement and experience that you go home and tell someone about, or are able to pass along in recollection to a friend in a fond retelling? Every urban environment may not be like Vine Street in late 19th-century Cincinnati, which had 136 drinking places along its downtown stretch in 1890. That speaks to a certain culture of industry that sustains that level of activity — an industry long gone, with only physical remnants still visible.
Finally, the industry. One truism espoused by Bernard DeVoto was, “The surest proof of the moral foundation of the universe is that you can always find good whiskey if you will go looking for it.” If one places closes, we can surely find another place willing to suit our tastes of fine cocktailing. However, what does that do to the local industry? In these tough times, it’s not easy to just set up shop somewhere. In simple terms, it’s hard out here for a publican. Small business loans, identifying and reaching a target user group, sustaining sales to woo continued supply — it takes more than just pouring a pony of spicy brown into a glass.
So, friends, in the words of Sean Connery, what are we prepared to do? The answer — realize that we can’t do it all ourselves. We must join together to keep our cities alive. About to enjoy that bottle of sweet brown you picked up the other week? Call over your buddy you haven’t spoken to in a month of Sundays to help you, so he knows what to look for upon his next visit to a drinking place. Stopping off for a quick cocktail with your main damie before a snazzy event? Have her girlfriends join you, and soak in their comments on how impeccably detailed a combination your suit and cufflinks make. Had an unexpectedly-informing exchange with the bartender at that corner spot, where you went for a “one and done”? Tell a couple people about it and send some business their way. The city will always be there, but it’s up to us to live in it.
Some people think scotch is good…
Some people believe anything with vodka is good…
Some people feel Malort is good…
But when “you become better than legends you thought were the greatest,” you find out that life is good…more than any thought, belief, or feeling, you KNOW. The ability to persevere when others no longer do, maintaining a presence where none others remain, having your words ring true when others’ have turned hollow — that’s when you KNOW that Life is Good…so, then what do you do?
“Crack the Patrón, Hennessy and Glenlivets,
Champagne bottles drowning out the sorrows,
Hope the memories’ll get us through tomorrow…
Put your glass high if you made it out the stash spot,
And here to tell your story and celebrate the glory.
Drinks in the air for my n****s not here,
This for the fallen soldiers,
Hold it down, I told you,
Pop another bottle and keep the smoke rolling…” — Nas, “A Queens Story”, Life is Good
“Them n****s ain’t dying for you…
Them n****s ain’t dying for you….”
With whom do you choose to go out? Is your wing(wo)man the most responsible person you know? Do they know when to corral you and reel you back from the deep end? On the other hand, do you know when to read their meter and prevent it from going into the red?
“Beef is best served like steak —
Well done, get a gun in your face….
Beef will have you praying to God
Move your kids, have you hiding your mom.
Beef is when you hide behind them other n****s,
But they ain’t killers they ain’t pullin them triggers…
Beef will have you keying our cars,
Heartbroke, yours don’t look like ours.”
Whatever you want to call it — beef, static, envy, hating, gossip — converged recently at a club in NYC when Drake, Chris Brown, and Meek Mill, among other celebrities attended the same nightclub simultaneously. What is fact is that a melee of some magnitude ensued, and although bullets weren’t thrown in the air, bottles can be just as dangerous. The aftermath showed all types of liquor bottles, glasses, buckets, everything strewn about, like someone took bottle service and smeared it on the floor.
All three parties of the aforementioned rappers have claimed innocence, saying they either weren’t there when the bottles turned into confetti, that their hangers-on had nothing to do with the ice buckets being thrown like rice at a wedding. It’s been insinuated that it’s the “other people” that got involved, the entourage’s entourage getting all antsy and itching for a tussle. But how responsible should we be for the ones we choose to #getcongenial with? True, we may not put the bottle in their hand, but can’t we calm the situation down before they choose to toss it? Further, do we REALLY want to have our fate possibly be tied to them and their actions? We need our friends to have our back, but when the fecal matter hits the fan, they’re throwing bottles? That’s not who you need holding you down. Like The Dream said, they ain’t dying for you.
“Them n****s using you as a pawn,
You see they never loaded they guns
Now you out here all by yourself
Ask Steve Jobs, wealth don’t buy health.” — “Exodus 23:1” by Pusha T
A few spirit-influenced songs for your listening pleasure. Liquor is sometimes a casual mention in rap songs, and these songs hold true to that technique.
Kid Cudi brings his rap-singy style to “Dennis, Hook Me Up With Some More of That Whiskey!”, the shortest title in hip hop history. There’s no mention of who Dennis is, his prowess as a drink-slinger, or what type of whisk(e)y he hooked Cudi up with, but fans of Cudi should still be enthused.
Rapper Action Bronson waxes poetic about the Australian export “Shiraz”. The closest mention to spirits is the lyric, “Aged wine got me spinning like a dreidel,” but brandy or cognac is probably the topic of that line. Maybe A.B. is pushing for more VSOP in the Queens, NYC area?
Finally, Brooklyn rapper Troy Ave meshes with his borough-bredren Fabolous on the remix track “Merlot pt Deux”. Again, no focus on the roundness of the dry red, but an allusion to how struggles in conversation with a partner turns a man toward the drink. Hey, what else could you ask for? Unless someone tells Paul Pacult to pick up a mic….
Everyone has to go through their own spirit growth. How we get there is another story. Rapper Crooked I details some of his missteps and the point he’s at now, while foreshadowing a future path for rappers: extoling the glory of the grape. Quite the insightful interview, he speaks on the effects of brand ambassadors and product placement in music, appellations growing nebulous and their lines becoming blurred, and the historically key ability of spirits to foster cultural exchange. Hopefully it sparks something in the music, that would be a refreshing take.
Whether it’s striving to time travel, insert wellness in our lives, live freely and embrace fantasies in the present, become a Master Distiller of a finely aged spirit, or a world-famous playwright….we can all dream…and believe…of a life as golden as Jill Scott and Ponyboy’s visions…as gold as the tequila and rum we drink at times. Stay golden, stay congenial…
“”Hot tub time machine, back to the Sybaris,
hats from liquor stores to avoid syphilis/
Frivolous spending, drunk nights with storybook endings,
I guess it’s my addiction to women/
I was in France, Hennessy blending,
writing my own scripts like I’m Tennessee Williams…” — Common, “Gold”