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(Inside Voices) Chris Malo Gets on the Bus with Ghostface Killah.

March 10, 2011

Chris Malo, former editor of Foundation, writes about interviewing Ghostface Killah:

Dark. That’s what it’s like inside of the cramped hallway behind the stage, in the back of the Trocadero Theater.

The small space is packed with people. It’s elbow to elbow, Timb to Timb. It is almost like we are dying because at the other and of that corridor is a bright light. But instead of the afterlife, at the other end is a packed house full of screaming fans.

A figure departs the darkness, walks onto the stage and takes his place behind the turntables. Cueing up the music, he turns back to the tunnel and gives a nod.

The figure beside me nods back and it is then that I realize standing next to me is Ghostface Killah.

In the shuffle of back door access to the club, with entourages pouring out of the tour bus, security yelling, “Fellas, if you have your firearms on you, please return them to the tour bus,” and several people promptly got out of line and headed back towards the bus, I failed to notice I walked in right behind the legendary member of the Wu-Tang Clan.

At that moment he is handed a mic. J-Love unleashes the thundering intro track. Someone throws a huge leather jacket on Ghost’s shoulders. He rushes the stage, commanding everyone’s attention with his sheer presence alone, and then shrugs off the coat.

It had been draped across his broad shoulders for less than two seconds.

I started out wanting to go to the Ghostface show. Then I wanted to go to the show for free. Then I wanted to meet Ghostface. This was about a year ago when he was playing a show at the Troc to support his album, Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry.

It occurred to me that mixtape DJ J-Love might be doing the show, and a Ghostface and J-Love interview for the next issue of my magazine, Foundation, would be dope. So I hit J-Love with the idea. He was with it. He talked to Ghost and we were good to go. I was told to be there at 9 pm the night of the show. We would do the interview before the show.

True to rapper form, this turned into standing around for two hours before being told there was no time before the show. We would do the interview after. Go around to the back door of the venue. Now.

Two minutes later I found myself standing in that mass of people in the alley behind the Troc. Two minutes after that we were stuffed into that hallway staging area. And two minutes after that, Ghost ran out on stage.

With nowhere else to go, I found myself on the stage with Ghostface. Seeing what the artist sees – how the entire place rocks with him, mouths every word, feeds off the energy, you can understand how that shit is addicting. Ghostface tore through his catalog and that was that.

Ninety minutes later it was post-show time, consisting of Ghost signing autographs – and titties, taking flicks and then back to the bus.

Somehow I ended up on the bus, too. Somehow I ended up in the bedroom suite, in the back of the bus, with the lights out save for one small, blue light casting its hue across the scene, and just me, Ghostface and his woman. She spent the entire time massaging his feet as I asked him questions.

The most insightful exchange came when I asked Ghost about his dedication of a song to Natalie Portman. Portman had done an over the top, hyper- sexual, lewd rap video spoof on Saturday Night Live and made comments in Interview magazine that she was a huge fan of obscene rap music.

This caught Ghost’s attention. He dedicated his album – in particular the song “Stapleton Sex,” to Portman.

When I asked about this mid-foot rub, both he and his female friend immediately shot glances at each other. Smirks were exchanged. It became immediately clear that this was a conversation the two had had before, in private. While she looked slightly scorned and annoyed, Ghost flashed that goofy kid-caught-with-his-hand- in-the-cookie-jar-but-knew-he- was-going-to-get-away-with-it- again grin.

His eyes remained locked with hers as he answered, “Nah, nah, nah… Write, ‘Ghost loves Tasha.’ Make sure you write that. Ghostface loves Tasha.”

I only had about an hour with him but the whole experience was surreal. It could have easily been a dream – not for the fact of who I was interviewing but the circumstances. It was just bizarre. And memorable.

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