The night was as adolescent as it was going to get in my schedule- 7pm. I had set my sights on leaving my night class and heading straight to a house party with some friends. Usually, these Thursday night classes would get out, and everybody would meet outside Fraser hall. Smoking, chatting, meandering would commence and we’d usually end up walking to a bar or someone’s house to kick it. Before I could I get to the weekly strum, I received a text from a friend. “Yo! The Movement is putting on an open mic at The Whole. You should go.” Probably the worst direction I could’ve been given at that moment, because my current state of mind was so far in the gutter with Minneapolis, Hip-Hop, and Minneapolis Hip-Hop that I was destined to go to this open mic and say all the wrong things. Yes, even at an “open” mic there are things the mic may not be “open” to.
Just a week ago, I had stepped to the Voices Merging open mic and set the flames so high, that I might as well make a sprint between classes in case someone tracks me down in public just to lay a furious ass-whoopin’ off of general principle.
Background: Voices Merging is an open mic based on the University of MN’s Twin Cities’ campus. It’s run by a majority of African-American students, and attracts a majority audience of color.
Having been ostrasized most my childhood by black peers (except Idrissen), I had always been reserved around black people I haven’t gotten to know yet. At Riverside Plaza, in the daycare my mother placed my sister and I in, we we’re totally unreserved with each other. Bi-racial, East African, African-American, not a shred of animosity separated us. We were all in the same building, on the same page, and somewhat from the same low-income background. However, at school, at bars, at parties, anywhere impromptu… there still remained a good amount of bridging the social gap for me, between myself and the black community on campus. So, why not give it a try at Voices Merging.
I’d made the national slam team several times at this point, and was curious to see how the crowd would take to me. It was a success. My name began to get publicity, pop-up in unannounced press, and carry somewhat of a weight around the Twin Cities’ poetry scene (if one existed at the moment). As cued, after the laughter then came the tears. I found that some of the people attending the Voices Merging Open mic were ex-communicated or rule ridden for the content of their rap, poetry, or spoken word piece. Yea yea, if a guy gets up on the mic and starts off with “Kill Whitey”, then there’s an obvious problem, but some of these cats were simply parlaying their language. May it be misogynist, N-word ridden, or profane, you have to understand the grid of an open mic before you start calling your event an “open mic”.
Watching this go down, I went into young militant mode and decided to take it upon myself to write a poem about how f-----d up Voices Merging was for limiting the language of people at their open mic… at the Voices Merging open mic.
Yes, I went in gang busters on Voices Merging. Dropped the poem like the biggest fucking deal on earth, and walked out to a half&half reaction of cheers and boos. The crowd was separated between “who the hell is this asshole” and “Tell it brother! Tell that shit!” This would be the “masturbatory exhibition” side of all things art… at least in my tenure.
I walked out on a high. I could dismantle anything and tell anyone what the f---- was what. I owed no one anything, and belonged to no one’s rules. “Shiiiiiit, I’m Toussaint Morrison- I do what I want!”
Couldn’t’ve been a recipe for a worst mentality in my life, well except for that stint at the end of high school when I had Lyme Disease, or maybe that one time I took the kids from the youth group to go TP this girl’s house, or maybe that other time when… Ahem, in short, this was a shitty state of mind. Reckless, crazy, ego-driven, I’d thrown off the gauntlet and taken it to the alley with Minneapolis.
Now, a week later after the Voices Merging debacle, here I was getting a text about Yo! The Movement’s open mic. I’d had it in my system for one more grenade. 151 and a few poems in my backpack, meh- why not stop by and give it to The Movement as well. Sidenote: Even if you have a gripe, grienvance, or question with someone else’s handling of artistic business, taking it to their sanctioned event or even your own sanctioned event is probably the most classless way of going about it. So yeah, about me taking a grievance to someone else’s sanctioned event…
Rewind, again, to a year or so back. Things between Yo! The Movement and myself were kosher as could be. They’d set up The Blend with their first ever show at a teen talent contest and booked us for numerous all-ages events around the city to kickstart our live show. We clicked. However, later on, when things began to get going for myself and spoken word, Yo! had reached out to me to perform at their annual Hip-Hop Festival… not for The Blend, but for spoken word. The offer was nice, but it had rubbed me the wrong way. “What, they only want what’s buzzing the most? They don’t want to deal with a young band down on its luck and in no position to sell out a single venue in the city? Who the fuck do they think they are telling everyone what hip-hop is and isn’t!?!?” , the ideas of what to say to the offer kept ousting anything nice I wanted to say. Etiquette, manners, meh- weren’t necessary at this point.
I can’t quite remember if I took the offer or not, but I can say I held the chip on my shoulder- a big ass chip.
Back to me going into Yo!’s open mic to lay down the warpath, I didn’t hesitate. I’d gone in to an attendance of 7 in the Whole. This wasn’t for the audience, it was to simply take a gash for my own self-resolve. After detonation, I left the stage to the host yelling for my return. “Shouldn’t call it an open mic if you’re not “open” to what I have to say buddy”, I thought to myself. Grinning like a magnificent bastard, the supreme douche of the city, reaching for the 151 in my backpack to take another swig…. that’s where I was at: buzzed, selfish, and holding the entire city in contempt for the fact it didn’t think I was the coolest m---f-----r in this m----f------r.
The rest of the weekend ensued as usual: bad decisions recorded into your phone log by how many numbers you don’t recognize from last night, not remembering the gal you made out with the night before and more, writing about it all at Espresso Expose, and studying for midterms. Thought it was all good… nah brah, just getting’ started. Monday rolled around per usual and my phone received a call from an unusual.
Within a week’s timespan I’d offended a good 90% of the people you don’t want to offend in a small music community like Minneapolis, how could I not expect a call. I forget the kid’s name, but he was hell bent on me attending the Black Student Union to talk about the past week. Christ- I totally forgot, throughout all this group bashing and event abomination, I’d completely gone ignorant to the fact I’d included a name in that ridiculous rant poem of mine. The kid was calling to set up a meeting between myself and this “name”.
Again, welcome to 2004, year of idiocy and public flame by Toussaint Morrison. What I was about to walk into would turn into a definitive disaster…
And again… TO BE CONTINUED and WATCH THIS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkvdljRAnPc