While McMain wasn’t quite the DMZ of school-genre films like Lean on Me or One Eight Seven, it was certainly an eye-opener for me, a middle-class Jewish boy leaving the cozy confines of Lusher Elementary for life in the massive tomb on Claiborne Avenue. And while there were some tough times in those junior high years (McMain was where I found out my name was white boy more than anything else), in hindsight I’m grateful for the experience. Not only is it deeply enriching to find yourself on the short end of the power/race dynamic (not easy for said Jewish white boy), but if you’re picked last for PE football and no one bothers to cover you, you can catch the odd pass thrown your way and be a touchdown hero for like three seconds.
I was also fortunate enough to attend McMain when major, longlasting developments were happening in NOLA hip-hop and one of my favorite memories of that time is watching my fellow Mustangs make beats on the walls (one fist, one palm) while kids in black Bart Simpson t-shirts and African pride medallions rapped along. A few years later, at McMain’s senior prom (by then I was only a guest of bestie Sara Pic, having moved on for high school) bounce was the soundtrack. After high school I found myself in Baltimore for a year of college and I clung to my local hip-hop CDs as if they were life rafts. While I’m not naive enough to claim that a lot of the streets, neighborhoods, schools and scenarios were that familiar to this white boy, it still felt incredibly good to hear a piece of home so far away.
So this month’s conversation between Jules Bentley and Ricky B is extra-special to me; it reminds me how important bounce is to our city and how inspiring it is when veterans like him still have something to prove. And don’t let my frowny face in Kevin B’s snapshot below fool you; I was psyched to shoot some pics and the breeze with Ricky B while we waited for Jules to arrive (presumable held up by a mob of angry foodies). I had just been on set all night (watching stuff blow up), so outside I may look like shit but inside it was all smiles and junior high.
Hopefully this month will bring the same nostalgic high (tempered with focus on the present), peace of mind and all around good vibes that Ricky B is about, as we take you through our spring harvest and talk everything from cosmic readings to records, hiphop to thrash, ska to country, love to hate. See you in the sun. —Dan Fox