September 11th… We Have History.

My first birthday cake (9/11/79)… I was probably analyzing the best method of attack.

At approximately 10:50am in 1978, September 11th and I began to form a bond that would go on to last a lifetime to say the absolute least. This would become the day that as a kid I would get so hyped up that I would establish countdowns to simply because the date would involve celebration, presents, and most importantly… FOOD. In grade school, 9/11 was the day that marked my becoming another year older, which meant I could puff my little bird chest out a little bit more. THIS of course meant I was more… well… “grown”… or so I thought. I mean saying, “I’m 10″ always sounded so much better than saying, “I’m 9″ combined with whatever large fraction I could find to attach to my age in attempts to make myself sound even older, right? There were some 9/11’s where rather than baking a cake, Moms would make my favorite pie (cherry) and put birthday candles in that! Other times, I may have asked her to bring in cupcakes in for my classmates on 9/11 so that they could partake in one of my favorite pastimes: being greedy as all hell. Then of course, the highlight of my 9/11 was coming home after school and asking Moms if I could open the gifts that she and Dad picked up for me, not realizing at the time how fortunate I truly was………….. Well, then I would tear those presents open as if I had no home training at all.

Yeah, September 11th and I go back a quite a ways…

The World Trade Center Towers, NYC

9/11 began a bit differently in 2001. Already graduated with Bachelor’s in Studio Art (Graphic Design), I was still living in Bowling Green, KY working on pre-requisite courses for an MBA Degree a/k/a “I didn’t know what then hell I wanted to do with my life at that particular time.” Young, silly-acting and all set to turn 23, I began the early morning hours by running my mouth on the phone all night, which consequently caused me not to get much sleep at ALL, with the exception of maybe 30-45 minutes on the couch of my apartment after finally laying down at about 5:30am. One of my cousins from Florida called me to wish me a Happy Birthday…… At 6-something AM. He hit me with, “Happy Birthday cuuuuz…”  My response was something like, “#@%&!!!!, You realize it’s 6:00 in the damn morning??!…. Well… At least you called, thanks a lot.” After getting off of the phone with him, I decided like a crazy person to drive to campus so that I could get an early morning workout. Surprisingly, I had sufficient energy to start and complete the full workout routine. Upon finishing, my number one objective for the day then became: GET SOME REST… IMMEDIATELY. I got back to the apartment, took a shower, and was fully prepared to get in the bed, cover my face with the covers to help shield any additional morning sunlight that wanted to try and peek through the blinds and then drift off into dreamland. But by the time I peeled the covers back, the phone rang… I didn’t answer it. I had sleeping to do. …The phone rang again…. Same thing, I didn’t answer it. I definitely wasn’t expecting the phone to ring a third time in a row. So finally, I decided to pick it up…. It was one of my boys calling from campus. No “Hello”, just straight to…

“AYO… They flying planes into the Twin Towers!”

Wait a minute… Huh?! THE Twin Towers?…. What do you even say to that? Except for, “The hell are you talking about?!”

“Maaan, turn the TV on CNN! It’s on there!”

I hung the phone up, went downstairs and turned the TV on and not only was it on CNN, but on EVERY channel there was a shot of the Twin Towers. By this time the North Tower had already been hit, was still on fire and some of its floors were engulfed in smoke… The first thing I thought about was my best friend and then former roommate who had JUST moved out of the apartment to NYC two or three weeks prior. I was trying to call him… Nothing. I couldn’t get through – there were way too many calls going to New York at the time and the phone carriers were overextended. As I was attempting to call him, the calls began pouring in to my phone. To this day, I have never witnessed that much call activity on a phone that I owned in my life. Birthday wishes quickly turned into a, “Maaaan, this shit is crazy!” conversation… My mother even called and said,

“Are you watching the news?!! ………OH!! Happy Birthday.” 


That was a pretty hilarious moment to me looking back on it. But I think the seriousness of 9/11/01 REALLY sunk in when I saw the second plane hit the South Tower on live television… I was actually on the phone with someone at the time and we BOTH blurted out, “Oh SHIT!! ….Did you see that?!?!!” …and then there was just silence. I later found out that a young lady I grew up with was actually able to evacuate from one of the towers and avoid harm. Ironically enough, her first day on the job happened to be Monday September 10th, 2001.

The main question of the day became, “Where are they gonna hit next?” And even more importantly, WHO exactly is “they?” I even remember the mall in Bowling Green, KY closing down early that day and I thinking…. “Maaaaaaaan, terrorists ain’t thinking about attacking the damn Bowling Green mall!!” This was one day that I will say that there was entirely too much going on, but there was absolutely nothing you could do about it but remain glued to the news. Oh, and I failed to mention the fact that I had an Economics exam scheduled for 5:30pm that day as well… Let’s just say I didn’t get to finish studying for it. And that sleep I was attempting to get all day, that didn’t happen either. And while I was hearing that campuses were canceling classes nationwide, we still went to Economics class that evening and took the exam. It was the only thing I got a “B” on the entire semester… But on the way back from class, I stopped through Best Buy and scooped up the following new releases…  Jay-Z’s The Blueprint CD and the Blow DVD.

No one really understood just how deeply we would be impacted by 9/11. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I was on a plane less than two weeks later. I sat down in my assigned seat and noticed that I had an entire row to myself. Hell… I had damn near the entire plane to myself! It seemed to have come with a cost because for the first time, I stood in a security line for almost an hour and a half. I remember being sent to a checkpoint of security where they would look through you bag in front of you by hand – tossing, lifting, shaking and adjusting the clothing in your suitcase until they were satisfied that you were “clean.” There were so many copycat acts of terrorism that followed that it just got to be ridiculous. For example, we can blame kats like Richard Reid for our having to place our footwear in a bin and having to walk through security detectors shoeless. The proces of catching a flight and even picking someone up from the airport hasen’t been the same since. Things changed damn near overnight pretty much to the point where we can specifically point to two very distinct eras in modern history, “Pre-9/11″ and “Post 9/11.” 

Showing no mercy on my birthday cheesecake during a restaurant celebration in September 2001 …Normal activity.

Well… Post-9/11, I have chosen since its first anniversary in 2002 not to watch the news or any 9/11 related documentaries that day. As a matter of fact, I’ve watched one documentary on 9/11, of which I checked out only once back in 2003. It was so extremely detailed, well produced and ridiculously heavy that I don’t feel the need to look at any others… Since 9/11 and I have such a rich history, I will continue to utilize it as a day of celebration with my family and close friends… AND a celebratory alcoholic beverage…. AND a helluva plate of food!!  

“Happy B-Day! Love, Zo” was the cake I made to mySELF in 2001… 

Prayers and respect to those who were affected by the events of 9/11.

Love to my 9/11 Birthday family… Miz Korona, Jade, Curtis, and my brotha Grap Luva…

Solo ‘ManMade’ Tour Dates + ‘Love In Flying Colors’ Tour Dates with The Foreign Exchange

Tour dates ….SO FAR.
More are always being added.

Solo ManMade Tour Dates

ManMade

Tuesday October 28, 2014 – New York City, NY
Zo!
featuring Carmen Rodgers
(Performance at the 2nd Annual Pink Alive Concert for Breast Cancer Awareness)
Joe’s Pub
425 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10003 | (212) 539-8778
Doors: 9p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

_____________________________________________________

With The Foreign Exchange
Love In Flying Colors Tour Dates

FE LIFC

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 – London, UK
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Jazz Cafe
5 Parkway, Camden Town, London NW1 7PG, United Kingdom | 0207 485 6834
Doors: 7p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Thursday, September 25, 2014 – Birmingham, UK
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Hare and Hounds
106 High St, Birmingham, West Midlands B14 7JZ, United Kingdom | +44 121 444 2081
Doors: 7p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Friday, September 26, 2014 – London, UK
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Jazz Cafe
5 Parkway, Camden Town, London NW1 7PG, United Kingdom | 0207 485 6834
Doors: 7p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Sunday, September 28, 2014 – Rotterdam, The Netherlands
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
BIRD
Raampoortstraat 26, 3032 AH Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Doors: 7:30p
BUY TICKETS

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 – Paris, France
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Bizz’Art
167 Quai de Valmy, 75010 Paris FR | +33 1 40 34 70 00
Doors: 8p
BUY TICKETS

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 -Köln, Germany
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld
Bartholomäus-Schink-Straße 65-67, 50825, Köln, Germany | +49 221 29199530
Doors: 8p
BUY TICKETS

Saturday, October 4, 2014 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
People’s Place
Stadhouderskade 5/6, 1054 ES, Amsterdam, The Netherlands | +31 20 589 54 67
Doors: 7:30p
BUY TICKETS

Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Santiago, Chile
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Club Subterreaneo
Orrego Luco 46, Providencia 7510150 Santiago, Chile | +56 2 2335 0951
Doors: 8:30p
BUY TICKETS

Past ManMade Tour Dates:
May 21, 2013 – Brooklyn, NY (Listening Event) • May 24, 2013 – Baltimore, MD (Listening Event) • May 29, 2013 – Washington D.C. • June 1, 2013 – Chicago, IL • June 7, 2013 – Richmond, VA (Listening Event) • June 8, 2013 – Philadelphia, PA • June 9, 2013 – New York City, NY • June 15, 2013 – Pittsburgh, PA • June 21, 2013 – Los Angeles, CA • June 22, 2013 – Tucson, AZ • June 29, 2013 – Detroit, MI • July 19, 2013 – Las Vegas, NV • July 21, 2013 – Seattle, WA • July 23, 2013 – Austin, TX (Listening Event) • July 25, 2013 – Durham, NC • August 3, 2013 – Richmond, VA • August 10, 2013 – Atlanta, GA • August 14, 2013 – Charlotte, NC • September 17, 2013 - San Diego , CA • September 27, 2013 – Houston, TX • September 28, 2013 – Dallas, TX • October 3, 2013 – St. Louis, MO • October 5, 2013 – Indianapolis, IN • November 2-10, 2013 – Capital Jazz Super Cruise • December 6, 2013 – Cleveland, OH • March 2, 2014 – Los Angeles, CA • March 12, 2014 – Minneapolis, MN • April 13, 2014 – Detroit, MI • July 26, 2014 – Memphis, TN • August 20, 2014 - Dallas, TX (Meet & Greet Event) • August 23, 2014 – Richmond, VA • September 6, 2014 - Atlanta, GA (Studio Campfire Stories: LIVE)

The Foreign Exchange Past (Love In Flying Colors Tour) Dates:
October 24, 2013 – Raleigh, NC • October 25, 2013 – Columbia, SC • October 26, 2013 – Atlanta, GA • April 11, 2014 – Pittsburgh, PA • April 25, 2014 - Durham, NC • May 1, 2014 - Richmond, VA • May 2, 2014 - Washington D.C. • May 4, 2014 - Philadelphia, PA • May 5, 2014 - Brooklyn, NY • May 6, 2014 - Boston, MA • May 8, 2014 - Cleveland, OH • May 9, 2014 - Detroit, MI • May 10, 2014 - Chicago, IL • May 12, 2014 - Columbus, • May 30, 2014 - Johannesburg, SA • May 31, 2014 – Cape Town, SA • June 12, 2014 - Charlotte, NC • June 13, 2014 - Atlanta, GA • June 14, 2014 - Birmingham, AL • June 16, 2014 - Nashville, TN • June 17, 2014 - Louisville, KY • June 18, 2014 - Memphis, TN • June 20, 2014 - St. Louis, MO • June 21, 2014 - Kansas City, MO • June 23, 2014 - Denver, CO • June 25, 2014 - Austin, TX • June 26, 2014 - Dallas, TX • June 27, 2014 - Houston, TX • June 29, 2014 - New Orleans, LA • July 8, 2014 - San Diego, CA • July 9, 2014 - Santa Ana, CA • July 11, 2014 – Los Angeles, CA • July 12, 2014 – Phoenix, AZ • July 14, 2014 – Las Vegas, NV • July 15, 2014- Fresno, CA • July 17, 2014 – Sacramento, CA • July 18, 2014 – San Francisco, CA • July 19, 2014 - Oakland, CA • July 21, 2014 - Portland, OR • July 22, 2014 – Seattle, WA

Zo! featuring Carmen Rodgers “Studio Campfire Stories: LIVE – ManMade Edition | Live Recording” in Atlanta, GA – September 6, 2014

ZoCarmen ATL

Studio Campfire Stories: LIVE – ManMade Edition | Live Recording

Zo!
featuring Carmen Rodgers

Saturday, September 6, 2014 – Atlanta, GA
(ManMade Tour)

800 East Studios
800 East Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30312 | (404) 688-9388
Doors: 8p
BUY TICKETS

Songs from Zo!’s ManMade and SunStorm albums come alive in this very intimate acoustic set at 800 East Studios where the stories behind the music will also be shared. A very special show and a first for me.

***Get your tickets EARLY. Limited seating available***

Studio Campfire Stories: The Foreign Exchange “Listen To The Rain”

foreign-exchange-love-in-flying-colors-lp-lead

Last year, I wrapped up everything ManMade around February/March 2013. During that same time, The Foreign Exchange was working on the music for Love In Flying Colors and I hadn’t yet gotten an expected call to work on anything for their album yet. Why is this important? Here’s a small bit of +FE trivia that most don’t know… I have the only outside production credits on the last three +FE albums – Leave It All Behind (“If She Breaks Your Heart”), Authenticity (“Fight For Love”), and Love in Flyi…Well… Just keep reading. Sometime in April or May, Phonte gave me a call telling me that he had a song idea for the new +FE album… I remember telling him, “I’ve been waiting on this call – I’m down.” Since I was scheduled to be in Raleigh, NC at the end of May for a video shoot, we figured that would be the best time to sit down, put our ideas together and see what we could come up with.

On May 25, 2013, I made my way down I-95S to shoot the first video from ManMade, which had just been released four days prior. We were to gather the crew in Downtown Raleigh and shoot a playful spin on an old school Sesame Street performance for the song “Count To Five” with director and frequent +FE Music collaborator, Kenneth Price. Come to think of it, this was the first time that Gwen Bunn and I actually met in person… at the damn video shoot for the song we had already worked together on! It’s kinda crazy how routinely that happens now…. Anyway, we shot the video in a few hours and afterward everyone got together to grab some food from a burger spot not too far from our filming location. Some folks went home, the rest of us headed over to Phonte’s spot where the movie ‘Campaign’ was running and jokes were on ten. Once everybody cleared out, Phonte and I hit the studio at about 2:30 in the morning and he told me that he had a melody in his head already with a few words here and there and needed the music to follow. This was no thing… We had utilized the same “sit down at the piano” formula when we worked on the title track from ManMade almost a year prior, “Fight For Love”, and “If I Could Tell You Know” from the SunStorm album. Like “ManMade”, it was the hook that we started with. When I go back and listen to the demo recordings we did of the song on my phone, chronologically we did the hook first (looped it twice), then there’s a recording of the verse, which we also looped twice. I distinctively remember wanting to accentuate that ‘break’ toward the beginning of the verse where he sings, “All alone (*break*) agaaaaaain….” …just to add a bit of personality to the music. The usage of breaks and “white space” is something that you don’t hear too often in many slower tempo songs and the more we worked through the verse, the more distinctive I made the break. The same with the chord climb up during the hook when he sings, “…….down out-siiiiiide…” by playing a different chord for each syllable, adding more of accents in the music. The last thing we worked on was the song’s ending. We wanted to close this one a with descending chord progression, which would set it apart from our previous “written at the piano” joints. The final demo recording starts off with my countdown into Phonte snapping his fingers for tempo while humming the melody of the hook then going right into the ending… And to be honest, I have listened to these demos about 5 times a piece while writing this story. To hear this song again with only piano and a reference melody is really kinda crazy.

By the time I returned home to Maryland the following evening, Phonte had completely finished writing to the song and sent me a text saying, “The title of that jam we did is called, “Listen To The Rain.” Lemme know when you lay THAT…” …No thing at all. The next day, I sat in the studio and recorded a main piano part, layered with a rhodes, and also played the bass live on it …all to a finger snap (that same finger snap can be heard throughout the majority of the first two minutes of the song). I sent the music on through to Phonte along with the, “Check that Gmail” text…… He then hit me the next day with the SAME text. When I checked, he had laid his vocals down and Chris Boerner had recorded a third chord layering by recording his acoustic guitar, which added some nice texture with the subtle fret noises and string plucking. So here we are with the main portion of the song completed just a couple days away from when we started……. But here’s where it gets good. Phonte told me that they had hit up my dude, Detroit’s own Pirahnahead to do string arrangement on it…

*drops phone*

Now, I’ve known Pirahnahead for a good 10-11 years and he was a monster back THEN so I couldn’t have even imagined what some damn strings would sound like over that music. So, when I received the song back a month later……. WITH STRINGS?!?! LOOK man…. I had all TYPES of goosebumps running up my arms. The shit was just beautiful…. I can remember listening to it about 5 or 6 times in a row and THEN listening to the isolated strings track a few times in a row afterward. Maaaaaaan, make you wanna shed that good single “Denzel in ‘Glory‘” thug tear!! Then, I received the final version with Nicolay’s drums on the song that put the song into another gear by taking it from an acoustic singer/songwriter mode to something you could break your neck to… All the way through an extended hook where Phonte calls out “…and my backgrounds sing, and my backgrounds siiiiing…” (that’s Jeanne Jolly assisting him on the background vocals too, by the way) right into that ending that we worked on at the piano. An excellent climax to a dope song.

Zo! “Count To Five” Performance featuring Carmen Rodgers – LIVE in Memphis, TN (07.26.14)

Shouts to Ascension Report for the video footage on this one. Taken from our performance in Memphis, TN on July 26, 2014. The Memphis crew had the music sounding good up there… “Count To Five” from my most recent album, ManMade

Personnel:
Zo! – Keys
Carmen Rodgers – Lead Vocal
D’Monet – Background Vocal
T.O. – Guitar
Doc – Bass
Pee Wee – Drums

Visuals from Zo! featuring Carmen Rodgers in Memphis • Photos by Nikki at Infinite Ink (07.26.14)

Visuals from…

Zo!
featuring Carmen Rodgers
at Neil’s Music Room in Memphis, TN
July 27, 2014

Photos by Nikki at Infinite Ink

Personnel:
Zo! – Keys & “Lock Um In Da Trunk” tee
Carmen Rodgers – Lead Saingin’
D’Monet – Background Saingin’
T.O. – Gee-tar
Doc – The 5-string Low End Theory
Pee Wee – Skins

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With The Foreign Exchange on FOX 5 Vegas

I walked back into the Gibson Showroom at FOX 5 Vegas almost a year to the day that I performed on there solo and for my documentary. This time around, I was on keys for the crew… The Foreign Exchange performing “Right After Midnight” from their Love In Flying Colors album. Y’all enjoy this one… And shouts to Phonte for rockin’ the Zo! shirt…

Click the picture below to watch the performance….

Screen shot 2014-07-16 at 11.15.32 AM

 

Personnel:
Phonte (of The Foreign Exchange) – Lead Vocal
Nicolay (of The Foreign Exchange) – Keyboards
Zo! – Keyboards
Darion Alexander – Moog Bass
Chris Boerner – Guitar
Nick Baglio – Drums
Carmen Rodgers – Vocals
Tamisha Waden – Vocals

On Keys For The Foreign Exchange’s Tiny Desk Concert via NPR

May 2, 2014, prior to  hitting the stage and playing to a sold out Howard Theatre in Washington D.C., The Foreign Exchange and I stopped off at the NPR building at performed a Tiny Desk Concert for some of the good folks at NPR Music… I really like how this joint came out and I’m glad that it’s finally up for you all to enjoy… Click the photo to watch.

Screen shot 2014-07-05 at 2.26.17 PM

Personnel:

Phonte – Vocals
Nicolay – Acoustic Guitar
Zo! – Keys
Boogie – Percussion

Welcome Home!! …Sincerely, The Michigan State Police.

May 9, 2014 was no different than any other day that I get prepared to go back home to Detroit to play a show…. While I normally start to feel pumped up for a show soon after soundcheck …when I know i’m going home to play?!?! I’m hyped up ALL DAY. It’s the “big game” for me… HOME. A melting pot of family, folks who I used to play baseball with, grew up with, those who have been in my corner from day one ……….and a few folks who may have no idea who the hell I am, but they scream loud as shit just because I’m rocking an olde English “D” on my hat. But since I moved to Maryland in 2006, every single time I go back home to play, it’s an outpouring of LOVE. And everyone who knows me is well aware of why I get so amped up when Detroit is on the schedule.

We were coming off of a hyped up crowd in Cleveland the night before and a 10-hour drive from Boston just two nights prior, so the actual 2 1/2 hour drive to Detroit was kind of an afterthought. Turnpike, to 280, 75N… We’re there. Simple, right? ….Well, the Turnpike was simple, as was I-280… We merged onto 75 North and coasted into Michigan. As many times as I have driven into MI via I-75, I can usually calculate pretty accurately how much time I have left to drive and at this point, I was getting even more hyped up because we were making great time. Word up… Get to the hotel, check in real quick, iron my clothes, hit the shower and be ready to roll out to soundcheck…………………

Until I looked in my rear view mirror

Normally, I’m pretty good at spotting the cops while on the freeway…. But this state trooper literally came from nowhere. I was in the far left lane and he was following behind me. I glanced down at my speedometer for a quick second and saw that I wasn’t speeding, thankfully… So I did what 98% of folks do when a cop gets behind them on the freeway…….. I changed lanes to the right so that he can pass by me and leave me the hell alone – and he did that. The state trooper rolled by me at a fairly high rate of speed, but kept it moving, no problem………… But I’m no idiot. I kept an eye on his patrol car just as a precaution. Plus, I didn’t know why he sped past me like he did – something didn’t feel right. I even told everyone in the van that I was gonna have to watch dude simply because I know that cops need zero excuse – they’ll pull you over and formulate a reason while they walk up to your car. As I continued driving, in the distance I could see the state trooper pull off of the right side of the freeway and set his car up as if to catch people speeding. Once again, no problem…. I wasn’t breaking the speed limit or any other law for that matter. But what folks fail to understand is that sometimes all you have to do is pass a cop in your car and it’s over for you ……and your record.

So, you know when you pass through a neighborhood you haven’t been in before and the older brothers sitting on the porch follow your car down the street with their eyes trying to figure out who you are and why you’re there? Well, when we passed the state trooper, I could see that his eyes were LOCKED in on our van exactly like that…. and then he merged back into traffic. As soon as I saw this, I announced to the van…..

“Maaaan, he’s gonna pull us over.”

Here’s the scene…. I was driving, Phonte was in the front passenger seat, Carmen Rodgers and bass player, Darion Alexander were sitting in the back. Four Black folks in a van with out of state plates (the plates on the rental van were Illinois)………. traveling. That’s it, that’s all. But sometimes, that’s all you need. Because when I looked up in my rear view mirror again, who do you think was there?…… AGAIN. So, again….. I changed lanes to the right and happened to pull behind a big rig. The trooper remained in my blind spot for about a half mile or so, in which I imagined he was running the plates. Then he also changed lanes to the right to follow me. By this time I was doing about 65 in a 70 and I told the crew, “If I change lanes again and he follows me, he’s gonna pull us over.”

I changed lanes to the right again…. He followed, again……
Lights went on.

Maaaaaaan FUCK!!!

I pulled off the road immediately.

The trooper walked up to Phonte’s window and while asking for license and registration proceeded to tell me that the reason he pulled me over was because I was “following too closely behind that truck.” Remember the big rig I pulled behind the second time he was in my rear view mirror? ….Yeah. THAT one. I was quickly reassured how bullshit this claim was when he said…

“Get out of the car and sit in the patrol car, please”

Hold up, go sit in the cop car for following too closely behind a damn truck? So, I got out, went up to the rear passenger side of the patrol car and went to open the door and the officer said, “No! The FRONT seat!” Go sit in the front seat, huh? I was thinking to myself, ‘NOTHING good can come out of this scenario.’  The trooper also got in the car and while running my ID and Phonte’s ID proceeded to ask me question after question…..after question…. after fucking question. Some questions he repeated to see if I would give him a different answer. Man, I had nothing to hide… We were just trying to get to our hotel and if the interrogation lasted any longer………… soundcheck… hell….. the SHOW.

Is this your van? No, it’s a rental.
Where are you going? To our hotel, we’re part of a band.
You have a show? Yes.
Where at? The Magic Stick.
Is that in Detroit? Yes.
What’s the name of your band? The Foreign Exchange.
You ever been to Michigan before? Yes, I’m from here.
First time playing here? No. (why would it be my first time playing in my HOME STATE?)
Where are you playing? (for the second time) The Magic Stick
In Detroit? (again) Yes.
**Looks at my license** How long have you lived in Maryland? Since 2006.
Is everybody in the van from North Carolina? No.
What does everybody do in the band? There’s two vocalists and a bassist in the van with me.
How long have you been in Maryland? (for the second time) Since 2006.

At this point I was thinking… He is just REALLY fucking terrible at asking questions. Notice how none of these questions have anything to do with what he claimed he pulled me over for.

Then the tone shifted as he began asking what he really wanted to ask me from the jump…..

You have any weapons in the van? No.
Guns? Knives? No.
Any contraband? No.
Do you have any crack in the van? *record scratch* No.

Wait…..
Did he just ask me if I had CRACK in the van??!?!?!
CRACK?!!?!

Do you have any cocaine in the van? No.
Morphine?
No.
Pills?
No.
Marijuana?
No.
What all do you have in the van? Luggage, a keyboard, a bass, and food.
Do you have an arrest record? No.
You ever gotten a ticket before? Yes, for speeding in January of last year.

Real quick… And may be I’m wrong simply because I’ve never transported drugs before, but uhhh… What trafficker transports drugs while driving four deep in a rental van with out-of-state plates on it?! Then again, four Black folks in a van with out-of-state plates on it traveling through Monroe, MI is usually four too many, so… But anyway, he then says….

“Ok, well I’m gonna let you go… Just wait here.”

I didn’t believe dude. He got out of the car, walked over to our passenger side and instructed Phonte to get out of the van. He then cross-referenced all of my answers by asking him similar questions while standing on the side of the freeway. Even after ALL of our answers matched up he asked Phonte if he could search the van. He then went to go get Darion and Carmen’s IDs. When I saw that shit, that’s when I thought to myself…. We may now miss this show because of this dude. He’s trying to find ANYTHING HE CAN right now. All I pictured was us sitting on the side of I-75N for hours with all of our shit out on the road being run through. He came back in to the patrol car, handed me everybody’s IDs and just like that….. he let us go, finally. The entire ordeal lasted about 30-45 minutes. To anyone who has ever had a cop harass you before, there’s always a few minutes of silence in the aftermath where you’re just kinda sitting there like, “What the fuck just happened?! …And WHY?” Never in the history of anything has being questioned by the police for absolutely nothing made anyone’s day better. Needless to say, I was PISSED and could not get into the right frame of mind to perform until we were actually announced on stage… It helped that the show was sold out and crazy as hell, particularly since my family and friends were all in attendance, but MAN. This has become our reality though – traveling between cities in a van, usually with an out-of-state license plate… I guess this qualifies us as suspects. We were followed behind and had a cop ride up on the side of us for about 2 or 3 miles when we drove to Memphis a couple weeks ago. I also thought we were gonna get pulled over during the final TEN minutes of our 12-hour drive from Denver to damn Brownwood, TX. The cop hit a U-turn and followed us loosely for about a mile before turning off. That would NOT have been a good situation at 12:30a.

So, officers…. If you happen to spot our van riding through your town four deep en route to the next city, there’s no need for alarm…

We’re just touring.

Encore at the +FE show • Magic Stick in Detroit, MI (05.09.14)

Encore at the +FE show • Magic Stick in Detroit, MI (05.09.14)