I’m not sure why Kanish was so excited to meet Willy Show, or how he thought he was going to parlay a meeting with him to his advantage. Of course, I still can’t figure out why the hell Willy—the president of a Major Label—would want to meet Kanish in the first place.
What was Willy playing at?
Then there was Kanish, who was nothing short of furtive all morning. For starters, he left the house early and alone, which he never does. Then, upon his return, Rajadut came by for a brisk in-and-out meeting, all of which was rather hush-hush and dripping with paranoia. Then Kanish locked himself in his room for the better part of two hours. Meanwhile, I couldn’t find the fucking Medicine anywhere.
“Kanish! Where’s the Medicine?”
“You are looking for your Medicine?” Kanish replied in a hushed tone through the crack in the door.
“Yeah,” I muttered. “Why are we whispering?”
“And why would you need Medicine this early?”
“What the—? Because I want to bring Willy a blunt? Why are—”
“You mean those super Fatties one makes with Medicine in a cigar wrapper?”
“You know what a blunt is, Kanish. Dude. What the fuck are you up to?”
“I do not understand this ‘up to,’ as you say. I believe, however, there are some prerolled emergency Fatties in the Medicinal cabinet. Perhaps you could extract the Medicine from those for your blunt.”
“You can’t put ground Medicine in a blunt, Kanish. It’ll fall right out.”
“I did not realize this.”
For those of you unfamiliar with blunts, they’re relatively easy to make. You cut a cigar down one side, replace the tobacco with large buds of Medicine, and then use your saliva to crudely glue the folded-over cigar leaves. Given the size of a Blunt, they are the preferred method of delivery for dispensing copious doses of Medicine to a rather sizable posse. They’re also useful for smoking out Willy Show. After all, no one on earth could possibly smoke more Medicine than Willy, and I’m really not sure the man even gets stoned anymore.
Kanish dropped his guard momentarily and the door opened a bit to reveal his attire. He was wearing a beautiful black three-piece suit, adorned with a light-green tie.
“I’m dressed for success!”
“In LA that means you look borderline homeless. Never mind. I’ll just give Willy one of the Fatties. We should probably think about leaving soon.”
Sevaka had the Bentley all gassed up and ready to go. Frankly, I would have preferred to take the Stingray, as I really didn’t want to draw more attention to ourselves. But even going bluntless, you can’t expect to come out of a meeting with Willy Show in any condition to drive. Given the circumstances, the Bentley seemed the better call.
Sevaka dropped us off in front of Mel Odious Sound. Rev was, once again, jovially peering down at us from his perch.
“You guys meeting Willy?” the Rev inquired from above.
“Yes, yes, yes. Isn’t it fantastic!” Kanish replied.
“Come on up after your meeting, okay?”
The receptionist escorted us to Studio W, where the music was blasting out of the Bigs—pop music, and it was nothing familiar. Willy was on the back couch with his eyes closed, and a young man—a Producer—stood with his back toward us in front of the 80-input mixing console. Both of them were deep into the music, and neither seemed aware that we’d entered the room. That is, until the music stopped abruptly.
“Can I help you?” the young Producer quipped.
“Mixie! How are you?” Willy greeted as he pulled himself awkwardly from the couch. “Guys, this is Juno. He’s producing this EP for us.”
We all exchanged introductions and hugs along with the usual niceties before getting back to our small talk.
“Who’s the singer?” I asked.
“We call her Allaire.”
Willy motioned with jazz hands as if he were magically presenting the name Allaire in midair.
“Just . . . Allaire?” I said, mimicking Willy’s jazz hands motion. Then Kanish joined in on the fun.
“Allaire,” Kanish parroted. But the way he moved his hands, I swear it almost made a swhooshing sound.
“Yeah. Allaire,” Willy repeated as he attempted to get a bit more swoosh out of it.
“That’s her stage name, I take it?” I asked. “Allaire?”
“We had no choice! Her last name is Rumplestiltstein, of all things. How the fuck would I market that?”
“Huh. That sounds pretty tired,” I replied.
“A total snooze-fest!”
“You may have a sleeper on your hands.”
“She’s like a dream.”
Kanish had a strange smile plastered on his face, and his eyes darted back and forth between us. He was clearly struggling to understand what the fuck we were going on about. I found out later, of course, that Kanish didn’t understand the whole Rumpelstiltskin reference. That would make things difficult, I suppose.
Juno was now vibing us out. I don’t criticize him for this. After all, I know how annoying it is when people invade my room while I’m trying to Produce a record. We were clearly in his space, and I don’t begrudge him for using Mind Tricks designed to chase us away.
“I think Juno’s trying to work,” I said.
“Yeah. Come on. We’ll go into my office,” Willy replied. “The mix sounds wonderful, Juno. But I think we could use just a tad more vocal, if you wouldn’t mind.”
Willy pushed on the heavy soundproof door, which opened up into the expansive wood tracking room of Studio W. In the middle of the room there were four oversized red suede beanbag chairs arranged symmetrically around a stark white shag rug. Between two of the chairs was a small decorative midcentury side table, upon which sat a plastic ’70s ashtray complete with a fan for sucking up the smoke. A quick test revealed it to be in working order. Between the other two beanbag chairs was a fully stocked beer refrigerator, the kind you’d find in an old SkyMall catalog. On top of the SkyMall fridge was a Beats by Dr. Dre Beatbox.
Kanish released the button on his suit jacket and plopped down into one of the beanbag chairs like he was eight. Willy followed suit, as did I. Kanish, without fanfare, reached into his interior jacket pocket and pulled out a cigar—or what looked like a cigar—and handed it to Willy.
“Holy-fuck-what-have-we-here!” Willy exclaimed as if he had just sneezed a word.
“It is customary in my country to bring a gift to an important meeting,” Kanish replied. “I present to you, the One-Ounce Blunt.”
Just to be clear, an ounce of Medicine is enough to get twenty 400-pound rappers perpetually high for more than a week. It was a ridiculous amount of Medicine to put into a single delivery device, and it was housed in a Cuban Cohiba cigar wrapper of all things!
“The wrapping is completely intact . . .” Willy said, almost in a trance. “How did you do that?”
“Let me tell you, it took quite some time, and a few attempts to get the tobacco out of one of those things without ripping the leaves,” Kanish replied.
“Why, this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!” Willy marveled. “It’s beautiful!”
I was stunned and I didn’t know whether to kick Kanish for upstaging me or to hug him for being so brilliant.
“Please accept this gift from both of us,” Kanish finished.
A hug it is!
“Well, that’s a very . . . nice . . . gift.”
Willy was losing his train of thought as he peered quizzically at the cigar. It was perfectly formed and jam-packed with weed. And I do mean jam-packed. Like, the thing looked as if it had been hand rolled with the Medicine right in it. But how?
“Filling it with Medicine was not so easy either, I should say,” Kanish started. “It took me an hour just to grind it all.”
“You ground it?” I laughed.
“This is astounding,” Willy marveled. “Why have I never thought of this?”
“I even clipped the end for you.”
Willy rolled the cigar in front of his face in absolute fascination. He couldn’t get over it. Neither could I, frankly. I still can’t. How does one successfully extract the tobacco from a hand-rolled cigar and then mange to replace it with so much finely ground weed that it can’t escape? And how the hell did Kanish find a Cuban cigar? I have to get mine from Jersey City. And then I realized. Of course! Rajadut supplied the Cubans. That’s why he was at the house this morning.
Willy sparked up the Blunt, which caught fire immediately and generated a massive plume of smoke. He drew in what had to be an enormous dose of Medicine, and then handed the blunt to Kanish, who did the same before passing it to me. Willy got up and reached in the beer fridge to pull out some Stella Artois. I flicked on the ashtray fan, which did almost nothing to clear the thick fog of smoke filling the room.
“Kanish,” I said, “this is a big day. You invented the One-Ounce Blunt, dude.”
“I figured what the hell! It grows on bushes, does it not?” Kanish replied.
“It most certainly does!” Willy said as he handed us each a beer. “So, tell me what you guys have going on.”
“Going on?” I asked.
“Why are you here today?”
Why were we here today? Didn’t he invite us?
The Medicine kicked in almost instantaneously, and I was having a little bit of a problem coming up with an answer to his question. We’d stopped by the other day to say hi, so that I could introduce Kanish to a real-life Mogul. I didn’t actually have a reason for being there other than that. Really, the only thing we had going on—if you could even call it that—was the Douchebag Song, and I certainly wasn’t going to bring that up.
“I am vehdy glad you asked this,” Kanish interjected. “We are presently preparing to record the Douchebag Song with the Pharcyde!”
This was about the time that I was on the floor nearly coughing out a lung. The sheer surprise of the statement caused me to suck Stella Artois down my windpipe.
“Are you all right?” Willy asked as he patted me on the back.
“I’m fine,” I croaked. “Please. Continue.”
“Well, tell me about the Douchebag Song, then, Kanish. It sounds fascinating.”
“I can do much better than that. I can play and sing it for you!”
“You can?” I said in surprise.
“I’d so love to hear it,” Willy replied.
Kanish pulled out his phone and connected it to the Dre Beatbox on top of the SkyMall fridge and hit play. The sound of the boom box was quite atrocious. I can’t believe Dre got three cents for that piece of shit, let alone three billion, but then that’s branding for you. The track, on the other hand, was compelling, and also strangely familiar. It took me a moment to place it.
“That’s the track from my dream!” I exclaimed.
“This is the verse beat,” Kanish said with a glare. “This would be the first Pharcyde rhyme in here, which they would write, of course. And then coming up is the chorus, which would be performed as a group vocal.”
The verse beat continued until there was a momentary drop. When the drums returned, Kanish began to rap, of all things.
Just another Douchebag
Another Douchebag driving in a Prius
You know you see us
How you gonna beat us when you’re driving in a Prius?
“I love it!” Willy exclaimed.
“So do I . . .” I said.
“You wrote the chorus then, I take it?” Willy asked Kanish.
“Mixerman wrote the chorus. I have made some vehdy minor improvements upon it. And I programmed the beat, as well.”
“I love the track! It’s really catchy. And the Pharcyde are in?”
“That is the plan!” Kanish beamed.
Willy took a sip from his Stella and then asked to hear the track again. Kanish performed the chorus several more times for us. It wasn’t long before both Willy and I began to join in, at times interjecting responses to Kanish’s calls, as if Kanish were our MC and we were his posse.
“Mixerman. You’ve been holding out on me. I didn’t realize you were a Songwriter.”
And here I thought that I was a Ditty writer, but sometimes in this business they’re one and the same. Apparently, this was such an occasion. Kanish sat up as much as one can in his beanbag chair as if to indicate intent. Oddly, Willy and I both followed suit.
“Here is what I would like to propose, Willy, if I might call you that,” Kanish began.
“Let’s have it.”
“As you can hear for yourself, Mixerman here is an amazing Songwriter, and I—”
Kanish paused for dramatic effect.
“—am Music Mogul material.”
I snorted quite loudly at that comment and immediately sucked it back in as best as I could. Willy was clearly taking all of this quite seriously. Kanish continued his pitch.
“I’m not sure whether you know it or not, but I am in a unique position to fund this project. With the Pharcyde performing the verses, and with Mixerman’s fantastic chorus, I think we have a vehdy good opportunity to produce a huge smash hit the world over. This is my plan.”
“I see,” said Willy.
“There is just one problem,” Kanish continued.
“And what’s that?”
Willy was on the edge of his beanbag, as was I.
“We need Distribution. And since you’re the greatest Producer who ever lived, there is no doubt in my mind that you can recognize that this song has the word hit written all around it.”
Willy sparked up the blunt again and took a drag. His lung capacity was impressive, and he held his breath for what must have been an hour. Of course, my Assistant had basically just asked one of the most heralded Producers in the history of the business for a Distribution deal based on an incomplete demo of an embellished Ditty, and although I could count on Willy to let the lad down gently, the anticipation was nothing short of torture. Finally, Willy released his breath in order to address young Kanish.
“It’s true, you know,” Willy started. “You can’t seem to drive anywhere without some Douchebag getting in the way these days. And those Prius drivers can be the worst Douchebags of them all.”
“So many fucking Douchebags!” Kanish agreed.
“I think you may strike a nerve with this one, boys.”
“Fantastic!” Kanish exploded. “When can we get started?”.
Willy rolled out of his beanbag chair about as gracefully as one can, and without so much as a word made his way over to his satchel, which was perched upon the nine-foot Steinway piano in the corner of the room. Upon his return, he plunked back down in his chair, rummaged through the bag, and methodically removed several stacks of $100 bills. Each stack was wrapped with a labeled purple band—$5,000.
“Here’s what I’d like to do,” Willy said as he handed five stacks of bills to me and five to Kanish. “That’s $50,000 to get you boys started. I’d like to set the two of you up with a Distribution deal. We get fifty percent of everything. So we’re equal partners in this venture. Now, if the single generates more than $5 million in revenue, then that will trigger a full Label Distribution deal, including a large capital investment from us. Then you can go and sign more Producers to your Label and make us all money.”
“Wait,” I interrupted. “Did you say sign more Producers?”
“Did I? When?”
“Just now. You said that we could go sign more Producers.”
“Ah, right. Producer. Artist. Is there a difference anymore?”
Although this was a point that I had made the other day, it was still surprising to hear it from Willy Show. And I probably would have spent more time on the subject had it not been for what he said next.
“If everything goes the way I expect, we’re talking an eight-figure deal here, boys.”
I began to work out the zeros in my head, but no matter how many times I worked it out, the lowest qualifying figure I could come up with was $10 million! The highest, $99 million.
“Did you say eight figures?”
“That’s right,” Willy replied. “In the meantime, you guys go finish this Douchebag record and bring it back to me so we can get it out there. You have complete autonomy on your creative decisions. Whatever you guys think will sell. In the meantime, we’ll let the lawyers hash out the contractual details. Sound good?”
“It’s like music to my ears!” Kanish exclaimed.
Mine as well.
The scene unfolded in front of me like a crazy movie mixed in with a dream and topped off with a dollop of fantasy. Kanish just manifested a fucking Distribution deal. For us! Based on a Ditty of all things. My Ditty. Who knew this was how it all worked?
Juno’s voice came over the monitors in the room.
“I’m ready for you to listen to this, Willy.”
“I have to run, boys. Bring me something soon.”
Willy swiped up the partly smoked blunt from the vacuum ashtray as he returned to the control room. Kanish stuffed all of the $5K stacks into his suit jacket and we made our way back into the hall, where we ran into the Rev.
“Hey, boys!” the Rev exclaimed. “How’d your meeting go?”
“It went fantastic!” Kanish replied.
“Good to hear! Come on up!”
Kanish was more than happy to follow the Rev up to his production suite. I, on the other hand, needed to empty my bladder, which I found nothing short of inconvenient, given the circumstances. Regardless of Kanish’s assurances, I didn’t like leaving him alone with the Rev. Not yet, anyway. To make matters worse, my bathroom run took longer than expected (shit happens), which wouldn’t be worth mentioning were it not for what I witnessed at the top of the staircase some minutes later. The Rev and Kanish were on the landing, shaking hands exuberantly, as if they’d just come to some sort of agreement.
“Thanks, Kanish,” the Rev bubbled. “This is so great. I really appreciate it. Thanks for setting this up.”
The Rev gave each of us a hug, and then immediately herded us down the stairs and out the front door to the waiting Bentley. Rev went to the driver’s side of the car, stuck a $20 bill into Sevaka’s breast pocket, and then tapped it for good luck. Without a word, Sevaka pulled the bill out of his pocket, crumpled it up, dropped it on the ground, and drove away.
Kanish didn’t say much at first. He just smiled smugly, as he should have done. I, on the other hand, was stunned. What the fuck just happened?
“So?” Kanish asked. “Am I Music Mogul material or what?”
“You most certainly are Music Mogul material, Kanish. Of this there is no doubt. But if you don’t mind me asking, what was that shit with the Rev?”
“What shit is this that you speak of?”
“Please. The hug.”
“Ah, yes! He wanted me to invest in an Artist, of course. But you and I have our dishes full at the moment, and so I merely gave him a connection to a friend of mine who would love to learn how to Assist.”
Kanish pulled the $50K in bills out of his suit pockets and placed them on the seat between us.
“This friend of yours,” I started. “Is he a Billionaire?”
“The son of a Billionaire, yes. How else is Rev going to make any money?”
It was a good point.
“Would you like today’s lesson?” I asked.
“Vehdy much so.”
“This one comes from one of my college professors at Rutgers University, William ‘Prof’ Fielder. He was one of the first great crossover jazz and classical trumpet players.”
“Hit me with it.”
“As the prof used to say: There are three evils in life: Passing the blame. Excuses. And ‘I can’t.’”
“Yes, yes, yes, yes. This is a vehdy good lesson.”
We drove in silence for a while, the Medicine still in full effect. I gazed out the tinted window at the poor people that had to operate their own cars. The saps were stopping and starting in fits on the crowded freeway as we traveled freely down the newly minted toll lanes. Driver after driver craned and squinted as we passed them by. All of them seemed desperate for a glimpse of us through the dark, tinted windows of our Bentley. It felt like success.
“Of course, there might be two lessons today,” I suggested.
“Two lessons! How could I be so lucky? And what is the second?”
“Money is the root cause of unhappiness.”
We laughed the entire rest of the way home.
Chapter 13 – Manifesting Aardvark
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