DRIP DROPS of HIP-HOP from CHATTANOOGA
Editor's note: This is Julian's second piece for Tha Milk Drop, but his first as an official contributor! Look out for more articles from Julian in the coming weeks. He recently performed for Episode 6 of Tha Milk Drop Show which drops on August 28th and details his experience below.
By Julian Cuebas
Man, my feet hurt. The burning blacktop is comfortably warm on my shoes and I can feel the sweat bead down the curvature of my face. I shouldn’t have worn this much black. I knew it was going to be hot. I’m on the way to Chrissy’s, while I walk I pester myself. Feeling the nerves of the night to come. I run over the song in my head. Passersby can hear mumbled exhalations: “I want to know… Where I can go…”
I cross over uneven cement on MLK and it almost causes me to lose my footing. Looking around I see no one has noticed, or they didn’t seem to care. I see Chrissy standing in dark pants, jet-black combat boots, rounded-rim glasses, and a dark grey beanie. “What’s up Christine?” I ask as I approach her.
“Hey! How are you feeling?” She asks.
“It’s my first performance in four months so I am pretty nervous.”
“Enough to worry about fudging it.” She laughs, and we start our walk to the set of Chattanooga Hip-hops ever-growing rap blog, Tha Milk Drop.
We start to get closer to the address Sammy the CEO sent us, but as we enter downtown the buildings start to blur and become too similar. I saw hope in a black and red iTRAP T-shirt. I hadn’t met Steve Bedford formally, but he is a distinguishable figure in the Chattanooga community. Primarily for his work with the community, businesses, and artists in Chattanooga. He was with a close friend of his that I had only heard of through his music. I walked close to them and called out Steve’s name, he recognized me, and greeted me with a smile.
“Steve man, I have been waiting to meet you.” I looked to his left and shook hands with his friend. “Hey man, I’m Julian.” I said.
“What’s up man, I’m Interstate Tax.” He said coolly.
“That’s dope man,” I said eagerly. “Hey Steve, we’re trying to find the Edney building, could you point us in the right direction?”
“Yeah man, it’s the grey building right there.” He pointed northeast. “It’s on the fifth floor when you go in.”
“Thanks Steve!” We walked towards the grey building and passed two gentlemen exiting the building. One was a larger man with a cap turned forwards and a Ninja Turtles’ shirt on. The other a short man with a trucker cap turned back. When we tried to open the doors to the building they were locked. My nerves spiked and we noticed the two men we passed were coming back with some gear.
“They have to be coming back in.” Chrissy said. I nodded my head in agreement. As the men passed I awkwardly asked. “Hey guys, do either of you work here?”
“No way, we play in a band.” The larger man said. I smiled awkwardly, feeling silly for not noticing their gear. The guys said they played with Kindora and I told them I was excited to hear them play. We pressed the arrow on the wall and then we were on the way up.
Once the elevator opened I was excited to explore. It gave way to a spacious studio with two sides. On one side there was a reception area with pizza, carrots, cookies, and various snacks. It also had a set in the right corner where a video setup and gold carpet rested. I looked around the room and saw Sammy. I walked up to him, shook his hand and he gave me a warm greeting.
“Hey Julian. I’m glad to see you here, you are going to be right after Kindora for the gold carpet. You guys are going to line up in about five minutes.”
I sat next to Chrissy and watched her eye the pizza boxes from across the room. “Chrissy” I said, “go grab some pizza.”
“I haven’t seen anyone go for it yet, I’m gonna wait.” She said. I laughed and watched as she waited until someone else walked to the boxes and began eating. As she walked to the boxes I noticed Sean had shown up. We made eye contact and started making moves to each other until we got close enough for a handshake.
"Bro, How are you?!” I asked.
“Man I’m great. Bro you have gotta tell me. When is that song dropping?”
“I’m announcing it tonight man. I can’t wait to show everyone. You killed that verse. I knew once I heard the beat that your cadence would sound amazing.”
“Yeah man, you got that right.” He said with a confident grin. We shook up and Sammy motioned for me to come to the Gold Carpet.
I lined up for the Gold Carpet in between a singer named Kindora and an Emcee named Rock Floyd. They introduced themselves kindly and we all talked about how nervy we get in interview settings. While I was talking to Rock Floyd I had to mention his role in Hise Cold’s most recent video. “I loved you part in the song man.” I said.
Kindora and her bandmates were the first to step onto the Golden Carpet, she talked with smoothly about her new EP titled, “545” and an upcoming concert. When it was my turn to step up my throat was dry and I was getting nervous. I strolled briskly onto the carpet and was greeted by flashing lights and Tha Milk Drop Shows host, Kinnawa Kaitibi. He had a close shaven beard and a demeanor that said, “Hey man, talk to me.” We shook hands, he smiled, and asked me for my MC name. “Kid Cuebas.” I blurted. He laughed and said, “I like that. Now tell me Kid Cuebas, what do you have coming out?”
“I’ve got a song dropping with I.Sean actually, it’s coming out next Wednesday. It’s called Ahead of Myself. We’ve been waiting to drop it for awhile and I am really excited for you guys to hear it.
“Well thanks so much man, I really like your outfit by the way.”
“Thank you man,” I grinned. “All black everything.” I said, He laughed and we both rolled our shoulders and then I walked off the carpet. I completely forgot we were doing an interview.
I moved into the second room where the performances were going on. Kindora was first up singing soulful music with guitar and drum accompaniments. The room was dark: save for the red, blue, and green lights that accented the stage. I sat next to Chrissy in a silver chair and watched the next performer Interstate Tax. During his first take the filming had a slip and he had to restart. He mentioned the brightness of the lights and I didn’t think much about it until moments later.
Sammy called me up to perform. I hopped up and threw my shoulders side to side stretching before I played. When I stepped in front of the colorful lights I was blinded. Standing behind me was DJ D-Whit and he whispered, “There’s a camera you can see back there. You can see where your standing and the lights won’t bother you as much.”
“Thanks D-Whit, how have you been?” I asked.
“Great man, I still can’t believe you let me go a whole trip calling you Necrolemur.” I laughed and said. “Well, the other day I got some merch in the mail and it was addressed to Necrolemur Cuebas. So I guess its official. Sammy and Kinnawa called over for my attention and the show was on.
The warm bells of Need to Know covered my ears in a vibrant haze. I slipped into a melodic croon, reciting the lyrics of a song close to my heart. Slipping from verse to bridge I found my footing and brought the second verse elements to light. Expression here, Existential dread there. Wrapping it all up with wishing for sweeter dreams. I stopped for a moment to enjoy the second of silence after the my vocals finished.
Tha Milk Drop is a site focused on highlighting the hip-hop culture in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but also taps into hip-hop worldwide. Each week we drop exclusive and new content from artists. Also catch the profiles and interviews of hip-hop artists and creatives.
Tha Milk Drop Socials