“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
In Tuesday’s post, I mentioned that if you just, “live life, everything will fall into place.” I don’t always fly by the seat of my pants, but sometimes I go off of what inspires me. Something that has just come across my visage. Something I just discussed with someone.
When you have a daily blog, you have to take advantage of those opportunities. So while I had an idea what I was going to post for today, I instead decided to slam on the brakes and take the sharp right to Spontaneous Topic Blvd. An article I read commented on the rise of Moscato sales in the US, as spurred by that nebulous and unnamed group — the “urban” community. Artists and songs in the genres of R&B and hip hop were attested to the rise, as their lyrics were a bit more sec than brut. The good people at The Congenial Hour have previously commented on hip hop’s influence on cognac, but here’s another spirit that seems to be trending. But why? And why would that influence even be possible — do people really listen to these big money artists when it comes to what $7 wine to purchase??
Let’s see if I can play a bit of Sherlock Xenophon here. For whatever “urban” legend or unfounded reason that people say African Americans mainly drink cognac (which I’ll touch upon in a future blog post), the truth is that cognac, whether Hennessy, Courvoisier, Remy Martin or another, has a significant market share within the culture. So when rappers started pushing more cognac in their songs, and Busta released “Pass the Courvoisier”, the connection was believable and a bit to be expected. On the other side of the palate, if you’re going to get many — not all — women to drink something, and especially wine, it should probably be sweeter than drier. This flavor profile combined with the push in champagne by hip hop artists, too numerous to count by now, as the connection of bubbles and hip hop go back to EARLY days. But let’s say that all these youngsters are going to the club, and can’t purchase that bottle of Ace of Spades that Jay-Z told them to buy when they left their car, but they still want to pop bottles in the club like T.I. and Drake said — what’s their option? Parade around the club with a bottle of wine, but sweet enough for them to pass around to unsuspecting and indiscriminating women.
Voila. Sherlock Xenophon has done it again! With no hands! *pause*
There are two transitions in the day when drinking occurs. One of them is “The Hour”, which Bernard DeVoto so eloquently detailed about the happenings of six o’clock. Another transtion in the day that has a connection with drinking is what happens after late-night drinking. Not quite after the last drop is gone, but in the next hour or so following it.
Let’s set the scenario: You get clean/spiffy/appropriate at home before heading out with spouse/significant other/brohams/wingwomen. You head to a neighborhood spot/Da Club/hotspot and get it in, having a most glorious and congenial evening. It’s at the point where the heels of the people in your group near the threshold of the establishment that someone asks the prescient question….
“You all wanna go grab something to eat?” *sound of the angels singing*
The main point of that question is on the surface quite easy to figure out — the person is hungry and wants to grab a bite to eat. But if the time is 2am, 3am, 4am, or even later, who is thinking about their sustenance & nutrition? No one! Which is precisely why I’ve argued that the point of going out to eat after drinking is not to eat, but “to extend the night.” Who cares about rushing home to brush their teeth or hang up their slacks? We want to spend a bit more time with our best buds & favorite people, and what better way to do that, if we can’t drink, than by sharing some food?
Hummus and pita will have to wait for another meal. The main approach to “soaking it up” post-quaff is to get fat into your system, as it slows your body’s absorption of alcohol. Anyone can return home to a bag of chips. But after a night of quaffing mint juleps, why not go, or return to The Brown Hotel for a Hot Brown? After all, it was CREATED for fourthmeal — what food can say that? Isn’t it always nicer to go to an authentic place, a “one of one” instead of a corporate rehash? If the Brown is a bit too posh for your t-shirt wearing brigade, why not go to your favorite late-night restaurant or diner? At Tempo in Chicago, Sip-n-Bite in Baltimore, Chau Chow in Boston, or House of Pie in Los Angeles, everyone has times that resemble Schrevie, Boogie, and the guys. That McDonald’s or Burger King might beckon, but you can spend time with them during the day — why not head to White Castle, that family-owned bastion of sliders? Or go with the “tree theory” at your fave pizza window and throw three oil-laden slices on a separate plate and nosh while taking in the scenery. Nothing is funnier than the street talk that emanates from people post-clubbing. Add a Maxwell Street polish sausage or a Philly cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz and you’ve got yourself live television in HD!
People sharing stories, serendipitous conversations about who-knows-what, trying to see if you can make that quick couple of minutes turn into something special — it all resembles a fine drinking place, probably the one that got us at our favorite eatery in the first place. Stay congenial!
You learn how to play sports during recess. You learn how to tie a knot and light a fire in the Boy Scouts. You learn how to wear a tuxedo at your high school prom.
How and where do you learn to drink?
A great man in London once told me that, “When you’re young, you aspire to the pub.” In a contemporary American context, yutes usually aspire to the nightclub. The corner/neighborhood bar notwithstanding, Da Club runs these streets. Holiday, birthday, Saturday, bored today — nothing holds up to going out to Da Club, taking in the lovely sights and thumping music. We put up with the lines, the cover charges, even the propensity for random and multiple gunshots. Dave & Buster’s may be fun, but King Kong ain’t got sh….I think you know the rest.
The music is obviously going to be there. Though crowds fluctuate between sporadic and packed-to-the-gills, there are always people there to interact with. But what do you take away from the drinking culture at Da Club — the type of cocktails that can be made, whether they’re served in plastic or glass, and the speed at which they’re mixed? Do you look at the backbar and assume that the varied types of spirits there are what every backbar has, or is supposed to have, assuming you even look at the backbar? Do you look at the patrons ordering bottle service and assume that is the best way to enjoy a cocktail? Does Da Club influence what drink you’ll order? You may not want to go up to that shorty in the pink dress with scotch in your glass; not when Da Club just got in that Nuvo Yellow and Ciroc Peach.
Maybe the high-volume activity and energy of Da Club influences you in other ways. Maybe you drink your beer or cocktail a lot faster, finding yourself ordering another every fourth song. Maybe you and your band of comrades shoot everything — liqueur, vodka, tequila, whiskey. No matter the proof, color, or appellation d’origine contrôlée, you’re throwing it in the barrel and pulling the trigger. Or possibly you train yourself to know your drink order in a maximum of 1.8 seconds, in order to avoid the harsh glares and sighs or impatience of the patrons behind you.
Da Club is the one of the first places where you’re judged by a jury of your peers. How you act and how your behavior affects other people are constantly being tested, to a bevy of successes and even more failures. Over all, hopefully it will be seen as just one place of distinctive drinking culture. There are many others, and you can use them all to inform each other. Stay congenial!
Hip hop “heads” often speak of the four pillars of the culture — b-boying, emceeing, deejaying, and graffiti writing. While the emcee has not only taken over hip hop music, it has made a notable impact upon drinking culture, but other pillars have also made their presence felt.
The DJ, akin to the good person behind the bar, is known to control the crowd and let his hands do the talking. With many ingredients at their disposal, each has to decide what precise mix will win over their patrons and ratchet the night up another notch. Smirnoff has produced a DJ competition, “Master of the Mix”, that pits already-famous DJ’s against one another for the title, while Smirnoff stands idly by and hosts a “massive vodka tasting event” and offers the winner a personalized labeled bottle of Smirnoff. Because what better way to build brand recognition is there than to go straight to Las Vegas and throw vodka at countless wild partygoers in the nightclub? And shouldn’t your special bottle be held high in plain sight of everyone, when those same partygoers are dancing and, in the words of Loso — in case you ain’t no so — standing on the couches like their moms ain’t teach them no manners?
Speaking of bottles, the label is muy importante — the visual is often the first thing people notice, so the artistic execution must be on point. If you’re a spirits producer, wouldn’t it behoove you to hire an artist for that reason? That’s exactly what Hennessy did, through a collaboration with graf artist/toymaker/fashion designer/cartoonist/graphic-visual designer extraordinaire KAWS. If there was any spirit that took on such a reworking of their bottle design, it would not seem that a cognac company would be at the top of the list, nor one with the prestige of Hennessy. The colors of the bottle and overall design almost seem fit for a Caribbean rum packaging, but the French grapes inside it don’t disappoint. KAWS also has a collaboration with beer producer Dos Equis — that seems as obvious an opportunity as any, as their name and branding are synonymous with the artistic symbols of two X’s that KAWS uses in many of his pieces, if not all.
All of us can let our inner graf writer create. Just throw your favorite spirit, a sweetener, maybe a little juice, and some bitters in this graffiti shaker and let it do what it do. But don’t add any carbonated beverages until afterwards; the spray that comes from the can is good for the TATS Crew, but it’ll take you a little while to clean that “graffiti cocktail” off your walls and floor!