It wasn’t long before jet lag got the better of Kanish, who was crashed out before the sun had set. He’s fortunate to have slept through the night. I never seem to do that even when I’m not completely lagged.
His chef—a lovely and somewhat round Indian woman in her sixties—arrived shortly after 7 a.m. with some groceries and proceeded to whip up a proper English breakfast. There was no need for me to wake Kanish. The aroma of fresh coffee and bangers was enough to lure even the comatose to the table.
“Is this what Indians eat for breakfast? English food?” I suggested jokingly as I took a bite of a banger drenched in egg yolk.
“I don’t prefer Indian food all that much,” he replied, still rubbing the grog out of his eyes.
“Really? How can you be Indian and not like Indian food?”
“I like Indian food. But why on earth would I limit myself to one culinary style of cooking? It’s not like I spend vehdy much time in India. I have been living in England for the past eight years, after all.”
“But the Handler told me that you have a bedroom studio.”
“I did have. In London. But I worked mostly with loops. It’s nothing like what you do, of course.”
“I see. So you don’t have a bunch of expensive German microphones then, I take it?”
“I have never used more than one microphone at a time. Why should I need bunches of them?”
Ah, well. It was worth a shot.
After devouring a delicious gourmet breakfast fit for a king, I rinsed the last remains of egg yolk from my plate and placed it in the sink. The kitchen was a mess, and the chef was nowhere to be found. As if by habit, I picked up the sponge and began to clean up. But then I began to wonder how it was that I could have a driver, a chef, and an Assistant, but still have to wash the dishes.
“I take it your chef doesn’t do dishes?” I prodded.
“This would be like asking me to do the dishes,” Kanish replied absentmindedly.
Kanish had his face buried in his phone throughout breakfast, and it was starting to piss me off. I find this sort of antisocial behavior far too prevalent these days, and I say that as someone who has actually contemplated ways to physically attach the phone to his hand. So I understand the addiction of connectivity all too well. Far more difficult to understand was an Assistant who doesn’t do dishes.
“You know cleaning the dishes is like part of your job?” I pointed out.
“If it is part of my job, then it shall be done!”
“Great,” I replied with satisfaction.
I collected Kanish’s finished breakfast plate and utensils, brought them to the sink, and gave them a quick rinse. I didn’t mind helping out. After all, this was the kid’s first day here. Unfortunately, he was still fully engrossed in his phone. Meanwhile, I was growing impatient.
“Well? Are you going to do the dishes?”
“You just said, ‘It shall be done!’” I mimicked dramatically.
“It shall be. By the dishwasher, of course.”
“And who is going to load the dishwasher?”
Kanish finally lowered his phone, if only to look at me with utter incredulity.
“Load the dishwasher? You just put him in front of the dirty dishes, and that’s it.”
“Wait, the dishwasher is a person?”
“Who else would it be?”
As if on cue, Sikh Number Four breezed into the kitchen and began washing the dishes with great aplomb. The chef returned momentarily to bark orders at the Dishwashing Sikh, and then turned to Kanish to chatter sternly toward him in what I can only describe as an almost motherly tone. She took a brief moment to glare at me and then left the room in a huff.
“Did I do something wrong?” I asked.
“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Annapurna was just expressing displeasure with your cooking gear,” Kanish replied.
“Yeah, well, I don’t cook much.”
“Yes, and I do not clean much.”
I really didn’t mind the direction this was all going. What the hell did I care whether Kanish or a member of his entourage cleaned the dishes? So long as someone washed them, and so long as that someone wasn’t me. What was pissing me off was his face in the fucking phone.
“That’s it,” I proclaimed. “I’m not going to be able to hang with you like this, and I’m instituting a media ban.”
“Okay,” Kanish replied mindlessly.
“That means you have to put your phone down.”
It took another few seconds before that last statement permeated his conscious brain. As if by magic, he lowered his phone again.
“A media what?”
“A media ban.”
“What is this media ban you speak of?” Kanish inquired, almost excitedly.
“It means you can no longer look at media on your phone—you have to interact with people instead of your device.”
“I do not understand.”
“Let me put it this way. I’d sooner spend no time with you at all than allow you to flaunt the fact that there are other things you find more interesting than my company,” I said.
Kanish thought about that for a moment and then placed his phone facedown in front of him.
“My apologies. I do not feel this way. I was reading about your gorgeous wine country.”
“Oh. Well! Wine country is beautiful. You like wine?”
“I like the country.”
“Country, as in countryside? Or country as in the United States?”
“I suppose I mean the countryside, since I have never been to the US before now.”
This was staggering to me. He was a Billionaire and he’d never visited the States? Which got me to thinking. Why was I in such a hurry to put Kanish to work? I hadn’t had a proper vacation in years, and I now had a Billionaire living with me who’d never even been to California. It just seemed to me, if he was going to live here for a year, then he should at least have some idea of his surroundings. Besides, is exploration not learning? Who is to say what gifts a good road trip might rain upon us?
“Maybe we should take a road trip,” I suggested.
“A road trip?”
“I think you need a little tour of California.”
“Oh, this would be so vehdy, vehdy wonderful. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Let us do it. I am so excited! This is fantastic!”
Of course, there’s no such thing as a “little” tour of California, which is a massive swath of real estate. To give you some perspective, LA County alone is half the size of New Jersey. The county itself only covers 3 percent of the total land mass in the state. That means if you could pick up New Jersey and place it into California, it would cover just 6 percent of the area. I realize that won’t be very helpful for those of you who have never been to New Jersey. The point is, California is immense.
Kanish was beaming at the concept of a road trip, but then got serious for a moment.
“But . . .” Kanish started hesitantly.
“Spit it out,” I cajoled.
“I am here for an education, and I am feeling quite badly that we are abandoning it before we even begin. There is so much to learn.”
“There’s no shortage of everyday life lessons that can be applied to producing a record, Kanish.”
“You are suggesting that I can learn producing this way?”
“Of course. Producing has more to do with people skills than anything else.”
“Ah, you sound vehdy much like my Guru.”
“Yeah? Well, while you’re with me, I am your Guru.”
“Oh, I am so happy to hear of this! Then you will supply me with a daily lesson, just as my Guru does?”
“Your Guru gives you a daily lesson? Even in London?”
“You act as if there is no such thing as Skype.”
If his Guru could Skype him in England, then he could Skype him in LA, too, and as much as I would have liked that, it seemed I’d already staked claim to the position. Which was just as well. After all, Kanish was here specifically to learn from me. I supposed the least I could do was indulge him.
“Sure, Kanish. I can give you lessons.”
“Every day? You will not take this responsibility lightly?”
“My only responsibility as your Guru is to provide you with a daily lesson, is that correct?”
“At the end of each day, yes.”
“Fine. I’ll provide you a daily lesson.”
“Fantastic! When do we go?”
“As soon as we’re packed,” I replied.
“Vehdy well. I shall ask Sevaka to load up the Bentley.”
“Who’s Sevaka?” I asked.
“Our driver, of course.”
Apparently, it wasn’t just Sevaka coming with. Our chef, Annapurna, and the Dishwashing Sikh prepared for the journey as well.
The Bentley was beginning to look like the Beverly Hillbilly-Mobile, what with two large suitcases and three duffles strapped to the top. It was also going to get a bit cramped in there with five people. At the time, it seemed reasonable to bring Sevaka, Annapurna, and the Dishwashing Sikh, formerly known as Sikh Number Four. But in considering it further, it was clear we’d need another car. And while I did have my twelve-year-old Land Rover available and all gassed up in the driveway, I wasn’t wild about putting several thousand more miles on it. Besides, road trips were made for rentals.
The way I figured it was, if you’re going to venture through California with a full entourage, you should do so in style. And so I took Kanish to the Exotic Car Rentals at the airport. At first Kanish was eyeing the Tesla, which I advised against, seeing as a 240-mile range between charges really wasn’t sufficient for a proper California road trip. In the end, he settled on a brand-new convertible Corvette Stingray in charcoal gray.
And what of Fatties?” Kanish asked with remarkable nonchalance.
“You want to smoke Fatties?”
“Is this not what you and Willy Show do?”
Kanish was referring to my first book, in which Super Producer Willy Show virtually forced me to smoke Fatties with him on a daily basis. A Fatty, or Fatties, as it were, are swollen joints filled with Marijuana—although these days, I just call it Medicine.
Medicine has been legal in California for many years now, and I’ve had a license for about as long as my THC-drenched brain can recall. It’s legal to carry up to an ounce of Medicine, and you can purchase it from special Dispensaries, which are set up like co-ops. Oh, and you don’t buy your Medicine. You give a “donation” for it. Yeah. That’s not shady at all. Whatever, at least I get my weed.
I pointed Kanish in the direction of the nearest Dispensary, and he screeched out of the rental lot onto the wrong side of the street and then immediately corrected course as he laughed it off. I suppose he was still used to driving in England.
Upon our arrival, Kanish handed me three crisp $100 bills and told me to get whatever that would cover. I was beginning to feel more like his Assistant, but if that meant accepting enough money to pay for a full ounce of Medicine, I was okay with it. For the now, anyway.
Only members may enter the Dispensary, and there are armed guards—mostly off-duty sheriffs looking to make some side cash. I entered the establishment and gave the girl the remaining tatters of my recommendation letter. You see, in the infinite wisdom of our legislature, they don’t issue a nice durable laminated card. No. They make us carry a fucking full-sized letter that you have to fold up four times just to get the fat fucking wad into your wallet. Douchebags.
I picked up an ounce of intensely potent California Medicine, which, to be perfectly honest, is a rather large quantity of the substance. Under normal circumstances, that would be well over a month’s supply. But when you’re on an adventure, you tend to meet other “sick people,” and there’s no telling how much Medicine you’ll need once that happens. I also picked up twenty cookies, each of which had enough THC to level an Elephant.
You have to be very careful with edibles, mostly because there isn’t any kind of regulation when it comes to the processing of THC products. That’s largely because the US government has marijuana classified as a Schedule I drug, the same as heroin and cocaine, which is absolutely fucking ludicrous and is one of the contributing factors to our staggering incarceration rates in this country. So, while cannabis may be legal in California with a note from a doctor, it’s highly illegal in the United States. Which might explain why your board-certified internist won’t prescribe you Medicine. You pretty much have to go to an entirely different kind of specialist for that. You have to go to a Marijuana Doctor. That’s MD, for short.
Let’s think about that for a moment. In order to get a letter of recommendation for Marijuana, you must visit a doctor whose only job is to prescribe that one drug. What do you think the odds are that this doctor, whose entire “practice” relies on patients that smoke cannabis, would turn anyone away? Once a doctor denies a patient seeking marijuana, how long before the word gets out to avoid that particular doctor? I’m not giving my practitioner fifty bucks because I’d actually take her advice as a doctor. I’m paying her because that’s how I get my letter. Der.
Of course, back when this was all being debated, the anti-marijuana folks argued that doctors prescribing weed as Medicine was nothing more than a ruse. Which it was and still is. All one has to do as a patient is name the usual adverse effects that are caused by marijuana and the doctor will prescribe you marijuana to fix it. Weed not only causes insomnia and anxiety, it cures them, too!
Now don’t get me wrong. Reefer is also quite useful for pain and nausea, among other things, and there’s no doubt that there are medical conditions in which the drug legitimately helps matters. I have such a condition; therefore, I’m a proponent, even if the whole doctor thing is clearly a fucking scam. But let’s get real here. Given the mind-bogglingly wide array of ailments that Medicine relieves, it’s impossible to tell who legitimately needs it and who doesn’t. So it’s reasonable to allow doctors to prescribe it, even if they’re just hacks. Besides, no legitimate doctor is going to prescribe marijuana so long as it’s classified by the United States of America as a Schedule I drug. It’s just not worth the hassle.
While I call dope doctors hacks, my doctor is the exception to the rule. Believe me, all I really care about is getting my license rubber-stamped. But my Marijuana Doctor is so into it that she actually has charts that show which ailments are helped by which strains based on their chemical composition. Some strains have more CBC, CBN, CBD, and I don’t know how they think a stoner is going to be able to distinguish between all of those, but each chemical is effective for treating a specific symptom. I mean, CBD apparently helps with acne. Perhaps that’s why weed is so popular among teenagers.
Kanish wanted to eat a cookie immediately, which I prevented.
“I’m not driving, dude,” I said. “This much I can guarantee. And you decided to get a two-seater. So if you eat that cookie, then you aren’t driving either. At which point you and I are in the Bentley and the Sikh is driving Annapurna in the Stingray. Capeesh, Kanish?”
After I explained what capeesh meant, Kanish agreed to wait until we got into Santa Barbara before he’d partake. I, on the other hand, ate a cookie. The ride up the coast with the top down is amazing when you’re completely straight. It’s nothing short of spectacular when you’re practically tripping. Like I said, you need to be careful with edibles.
The Stingray had a killer sound system with bass for days. Kanish was blasting the hip-hop station on satellite radio.
“Is hip-hop your favorite genre?” I asked.
“Oh, vehdy much so!” Kanish yelled over the rushing air of both the wind and the 808 kick drum, which was rattling the entire car with its excessive low-end boom.
“I guess that explains why you never use more than one mic at a time. That’s not going to help you much in Bollywood, you know.”
“Bollywood! That’s hilarious!” Kanish hollered. “What would Bollywood have to do with it?”
Well, that was a surprising response.
“Um, you realize Paneer expects you to return to India to become a Bollywood Producer, don’t you?”
“Is that what he told you? Look at me. I haven’t lived in India for eight years. Why would I go back? That will not happen. Of this I can promise you.”
I didn’t dare bring up his Trust. Paneer had made it clear in his confessional that Kanish’s inheritance was on the line. His instructions were explicit. Deliver to India the next big Bollywood Producer, or else. But it was far too early in our relationship to have that particular conversation. Ultimately, I would have to explain to Kanish Kanish the terms as told to me by his father, including the ramifications of failure. I already liked the lad enough that I couldn’t bear to see him poor.
“I vehdy much came here to work with you because of one album,” Kanish volunteered.
“Really! And what’s that?”
“Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde. You are the greatest hip-hop Producer who has ever lived!”
First off, I didn’t produce that album, and I haven’t produced any hip-hop albums to date. The bulk of that album was produced by J-Swift, who last I’d heard was on the streets of LA smoking crack. There was even a documentary about the making of that album, which is kind of odd, seeing as no one spoke to me about it. I was there with those guys every day for eight months.
Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde was the first album I recorded in Los Angeles. I came here from Boston in my early twenties with several years of recording under my belt, which put me in a good position to find work. Mike Ross, the president of Delicious Vinyl and the Executive Producer of that album, was working out of Hollywood Sound where I was a freelance recording engineer and Assistant. The Pharcyde was there mixing their first EP with Joe Primeau. Meanwhile, Mike was actively complaining about the studio where he tracked it. So when he told me that he was going to make a full-length album with the group, I suggested that they record with me in one of the upstairs production rooms.
Interestingly enough, I almost lost that gig after the first day, when the group insisted they hold the Neumann U47 as they performed. This particular mic is designed to be hung in a special cage called a shock mount, and it is generally too sensitive to be held without picking up distracting noise on the capture. That said, I was not in a position to say no on our first day working together. And I can assure you, when Mike told me that things weren’t working out, I explained to him exactly what had happened.
“Yeah. The fucked-up vocals aren’t my fault. The group insisted on holding the U47,” I said.
“What! You don’t hold a U47!” Mike exclaimed in amazement.
“You and I know that. They don’t care about that. And I didn’t think it was a good idea for me to be butting heads with them on our first day. And I didn’t want to be reporting them to you either. They wouldn’t trust me.”
Mike was visibly relieved to hear all of this, and he immediately called the group into the production room and played them their vocals from the night before. They didn’t have a problem with any of it, so I’m not sure why he bothered with a demonstration. Just the same, Mike banned the holding of microphones during performances, even ones appropriate for the task. He also told them to listen to me, which went a long way, actually. Eight months later, we were finished recording the album.
Now, while I did record the Tiger’s Share of the vocals, and even mixed two of the tracks on that album, I was not in any way shape or form responsible for the success of that album—and it was quite successful indeed. It was certified Gold, which means it sold over 500,000 units in the US alone. And while there are plenty of hip-hop albums that have sold many more units, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde is considered one of the quintessential hip-hop albums in the history of the genre, and you will see it cited on nearly every top-twenty-five-hip-hop-albums list you can find. None of that has anything to do with me. My job was simple. Be there to capture their performances.
“I didn’t produce that album, I recorded it,” I corrected.
Frankly, there shouldn’t have been any confusion in that regard, and it made me wonder just how familiar Kanish was with my discography.
“Kanish, can you name any other Artists I’ve worked with?”
He rattled off names all right. Tone Loc, Michael Franti of Spearhead, the Greyboy Allstars, and The Brand New Heavies, all of whom I worked with more than twenty years ago. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen any of them, other than Michael Franti, since that time.
“So all the records that you know from my discography are from my hip-hop days? I asked.
“Is there more?”
“Yeah, like an entire era of records, none of them hip-hop. Is that the only music that you like?”
“Certainly not. I vehdy much like all music. But I truly adore hip-hop.”
“Because living in poverty under the constant lure of gangs is something that you can identify with?”
“You are a vehdy funny Guru, you are, Mixerman.”
“You realize I haven’t worked on a hip-hop album in twenty years?”
“Worry not! I will teach you!”
I was very much looking forward to that.
Between the acquiring of rental cars, the purchasing of Medicine, and a number of other distractions not worth going into, we didn’t manage to hit the road until rush hour. A rookie mistake if there ever was one. As a result, it took us five hours to make the two-hour trek to Santa Barbara. Don’t ask me how many miles it is—we measure distance by time in Southern California, and today, it was five hours away.
Kanish was still quite lagged, and I continued to trip from that outrageous cookie. So we grabbed a bite to eat and then checked into a seaside hotel to crash for the evening. And although I’d taken some time on the ride to research today’s critical first lesson, I wasn’t all that confident in the results.
“Good night Kanish,” I said as I pushed the card into the reader of my suite.
“You seem to be forgetting something,” Kanish said.
“To be perfectly honest, I’m a little embarrassed, because it’s a Buddhist lesson.”
“But you’re Hindu,” I pointed out.
“Yes, yes, but Buddhism has a vehdy long history in India and even in Hinduism. It’s perfectly fine to teach me the lessons of Buddha,” Kanish encouraged.
“Okay,” I said with trepidation. “You’re ready for it?”
“When the student is ready, the master appears,” I intoned.
Kanish smiled as wide is wide. As did I.
“You are going to be a fantastic Guru, I can tell,” Kanish encouraged.
We can only hope.
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