Back in NYC now and bumping that new Ghostface LP, Apollo Kids, on straight repeat. Which got me thinking about doing some non-linear posting.
For example, here’s an email I had written awhile ago after, perhaps/probably/definitely, my most memorable DJ gig.
So I DJed for Ghostface Killah this past Saturday in Beijing. As in, I was the dude onstage with P.Tone dropping the beats for his show. Crazy.
First time Ghostface had ever come to China. Killed it.
Then after the performance, Ghost wanted to fly me to Shanghai to DJ their next show. He was loving my ish! (||) At first I thought he was kidding, but then he and his manager were like, “Yo f*ck that. We ain’t performing in Shanghai unless DJ Lomang comes! For real. He needs his own room in our hotel. All the same sh!t! Otherwise f*ck Shanghai. We going straight to New Zealand…”
I was like, whoa. How could I refuse that invitation? I mean how many times in one’s life is Ghostface going to make a special request that you DJ with him?!
I realized my passport was in Shanghai on some work visa renewal ish.
EPIC EPIC PASSPORT FAIL.
So I had to basically…refuse that invitation. Devastational. All I could/can do is take solace in the memory of that night.
And what a crazy, surreal night.
Got to soundcheck around 6pm at the venue, Star Live, where The Roots and Talib Kweli had previously performed. It’s a medium-sized venue (for Beijing standards) with a capacity of about 1200. After setting up the turntables and mixer onstage, I look up and see Ghostface and the Theodore Unit* crew stroll in.
[*his tour manager, Val; Du Lilz; and Shawn Wiggs, who I hadn’t realized was white until then]
I thought that the show would be a pretty straightforward thing–just play one instrumental after another. But then they gave me their set list.
Ghostface kept it all nonchalant, “Yo son yeah I’mma do like 16 bars here and then give you an eye signal and just drop that next cut nahmean? Oh wait, nah lemme do the hook on that sh!ts. Oh and for track 17, let’s drop that. F*ck track 17. Move track 36 there…”
“Word word no problem (Mr. Ghostface, sir).”
In my mind, I was like, oh sh!t. Started to get a little nervous, I shall keep it 100.
Ghost then remarked, “Yo I like that shirt g.” (I was wearing my Second Son, “Ooh Baby I Like It Raw,” t-shirt I picked up at the Reed Space…shouts to Rufus and Nico, respectively).
No rehearsing or anything. And just like that, Ghost was ghost. Back to the hotel to chill before the show.
Fast forward to 11:30pm. Place was filling up. The opening act, Beijing’s MC Nasty Ray and his group, had finished their set*. Ghostface, his crew, and I were posted up in the dressing room, chillin’.
[*Nasty Ray actually used some Wu-Tang instrumentals, like as an homage, for the opening set, but when Ghost was in the dressing room and heard the beats, he snapped, “Tell them motherf*ckers to stop using Wu-Tang beats!”]
Nerves steadily building.
Not helping matters was that I had gotten food poisoning on Thursday and had to go go like 30 times that day. Not cool. I basically did not eat anything for 2 days leading up to show. For real I was mad paranoid that I’d have to run off stage during the performance for an emergency evacuation. So at that point, that was where my mind was at.
Thankfully the scene in the dressing room was pretty chill. Ghostface’s crew was drinking beers and…Hennessy. Of course, they were incessantly sparking. Of course. Real chill dudes though.
Then Ghost was like, “You ready, DJ?” Kind of caught me off guard, as my nervous thoughts had just at that moment turned to: “Was that smart right before the show? Wouldn’t that increase likelihood of f*ck-ups? F*ck f*ck f*ck.”
I go to Ghostface, “Jeeeyyeaaah.”
I step onstage first. All lights/eyes on me. I am trying to look all cool (ice cold!) under pressure and not sh!t my pants (like for reals). I start by playing the original sample of Jay-Z’s, DOA. Then boom…drop the Criminology beat from Only Built for Cuban Linx. Ghost and his crew storm out.
Crowd of like 1000+ goes crazy.
Then it was on. Somehow the nerves dissipated, and then it was just about vibing with Ghostface throughout the performance. All about timing. Dropping the next beat at the right exact moment. Each song played a little over 1 minute on average. Quick cuts and quick transitions and high energy. Yet, it was also knowing when to let the beat ride when Ghost was feeling it.
The crowd was hyped. Ghostface, thankfully, was really into the show. Every so often he would turn to me, “Hold up, cut the music!” Then he’d start ranting about this and that (“Y’all be listening to bullsh!t these days! When I came up, it was about lyricism. The music meant something…!”) Then he’d do a hand signal, and I’d drop the next beat.
“Greedy b!tches. Greedy greedy b!tches…”
He did his famed, “Yo let me hear which Wu-Tang albums you have? Who bought Only Built For Cuban Linx? Who bought…” routine. “…now who bought Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s first album?!” Which was my cue to drop “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” straight piano stabbing that sh!t. Crowd goes bonkers again. Soooo dope yo.
At one point, the speakers on the stage caught on fire. Literally. Straight fiyyyahhhh!
Probably the high point of energy (and ridiculousness), though, came when I dropped the beat for “Run!” Shawn Wiggs and Du Lilz started running around onstage like kids playing tag.
I look up and see Ghostface, who’s like 6’ 3”, running in place on an imaginary tread mill all the while spitting: “Cops got…GUNS!”
Straight rocked it until the venue cut the show off at 1am. Everyone afterwards was saying it was one of the best hip hop shows ever in Beijing. (Note: It is a relative statement, given there haven’t been that many hip hop shows here. Plus most of the MCs that come perform for about 30 - 45 minutes and then bounce.) But since we’re at this historical moment in China–all seminal and sh!t–the show objectively was one of the best hip hop shows in China’s 5000 year old history.
After the show, these girls came up to me, “OMG you were so good. How long have you been DJing with Ghostface?”
I’m like, “Uh, tonight!”
Then these Chinese kids decked out in Wu-tang gear asked to take pictures with me.
DJ Lomang in the building!
Needless to say, a brotha could not help but get gassed a bit, especially since there was no rehearsal at all. And no onstage emergencies. When I look back, it was definitely surreal being on stage with the man himself, Pretty Toney.
In other notables from the night, after the show, I brought Ghostface and the crew to our party, HOTPOT, that me and my boy, DJ Wordy, put on every month. Then after our party, HOTPOT, ended, I see Ghostface’s manager get into it with the promoter over money payment issues outside the club. The promoter, a skinny hipster, appears to speak with a tone of voice that I might not have used when surrounded by a 6’ 3” Ghostface and his associates. Things escalate.
Ghostface’s dudes start pushing the promoter around like a pinball. Then they shove him into the van, pile in, slam the door, and the van screeches off.
I remember thinking, “That is not a good look for the promoter.”
Later my friend, Justin, who was in the van, said Ghost informed the promoter, all gentlemanly I’m sure, “Yo g we ain’t gonna f*ck you up. Don’t worry, we ain’t gonna punch you in the face or nothing. But where the f*ck is our money?!” So then my friend said they started punching the promoter in the thigh and giving him charlie horses. Ridiculous I say.
Eventually we caught up with Ghostface and his crew at this other club, Suzie Wong’s, that a friend owns. By that point, Ghost had appeared to resolve the issue with the promoter and seemed most interested in the food being brought out to him at our table. And so at 5:30am I find myself eating french fries with Pretty Toney. At Suzie Wong’s* of all places.
[*Suzie Wong’s is known for its eurotrash patrons, hot Russian models in Beijing for short stints, house music, and Chinese girls, who give you—and your wallet—suspiciously generous amounts of oculus…]
By 6am, Shawn Wiggs and Du Lilz are cashed out and beckon Ghostface to finally head back to the hotel and call it a night, as they had to fly to Shanghai at 10am. Having just mealed on some chicken wings, Ghostface had other things on his mind. Namely, a plate of fried rice that had just been placed in front of him.
So naturally, he takes the plate in one hand, a fork in the other, and saunters out the club continuing his grub session. Focking hilarious. When he got to the door, the bouncers were like, um excuse me, you can’t take the plate with you. So avuncular Ghostface starts trying to finish the fried rice on the spot and telling his boys to get some.
“Yo you gotta try this shit g. This rice is gooooooddddddd!!!”