Player Not The Game


The countdown kicks off. In one week, my mother and I will be on a plane to Denver, Colorado.

She’s going to meet her first-born grandchild. It’s as if it’s the onPe parting gift that Larry wanted us to have. His spirit is still alive in another form.

The kid’s body is young, while an old soul fills the voids. Will my big brother’s kid look like him or some other relative?

The anticipation, to me, is disabling, but my mother shows no sign of sweat. She’s so much better at hiding it.

“Yo, Quincy, what’s good?” one of Anton’s close friends/roommates asks.

“I’m cool,” I say. “What’s going on? I didn’t expect to see anyone I know here.”

“Yeah, me either,” Anton’s friend, whose name escapes me at the moment, says. “You know, Anton was supposed to come but he stayed home to study for a final on Monday.”

This event that Anton is missing is a monthly indie-soul showcase called Sol Village. It’s held at the world-renowned SOB’s live music venue on Varick Street in SoHo.

SOB’s got its start back in 1982 and Sol Village launched a couple of years ago. In that short period, it’s become the premier New York City showcase for untapped and new talent. I saw my girl Erykah Badu perform here once.

Tonight, the line-up, hosted by singer/songwriter Eric Roberson, includes Kindred The Family Soul, Lina, PJ Morton and Maya Azucena.

They’re all signed to independent record labels, which operate much like the majors used to when they were still independent.

Their focus is on the artists and the quality of the albums, more so than its productivity. I came tonight because I’m a fan of every performer.

Kindred The Family Soul is a husband-and-wife R&B duo hailing from Philadelphia. They sing about love; they sing about their love, a magical one.

My favorite song, “Stars”, is what I need to hear from them live and up close. Lina’s “Come to Mama” is also on my list of songs I demand to hear before I leave.

Lina, hailing from Texas, combines the type of R&B I like with pieces of jazz that fit her quirky tone. Not to mention, she can sing her ass off. Some critics compare her to Erykah, but I see the differences and appreciate them.

It was her song “I Am” that helped me get through my time with Brian back in London. That song, which had just dropped a few months prior, gave me strength. I took that strength to new heights.

Then, there’s the PJ Morton album called Emotions I received in the mail late last year at work. The album cover was simple; then I flipped it over to see that there was a song called “Jiborish” that I had to listen to.

How good could it be with a title like that? PJ squashed my skepticism as it is also on my list of songs I must hear tonight. All in due time I suppose.

I hate the stigma that most independent soul artists are given nowadays. Back in the late 1990s, Kedar Massenburg, who was head of Motown Records, coined the term neo-soul to describe artists such as Erykah Badu, D’Angelo and Lauryn Hill.

People fell in love with the sound because it felt so authentic, but somewhere along the way, it became cliché.

Many indie-soul acts now just want to be known as artists, not neo-soul artists. Neo-soul had its moment, even though its never-ending shadow continues to throw shade on the whole community of singers/songwriters.

This night has been on my calendar for weeks and I wasn’t alone. Anton’s boy is also heavy into soul music, whether mainstream or underground. He shares that Anton is in love with me. I don’t know what to say back to him.

“Oh really? Did he tell you that?” I ask.

“No, but I can tell. We all can. He complains about how he never sees you except when you need something.”

“And what’s wrong with that? He knew what he was getting himself into,” I say.

“Things change, Quincy.

Feelings change,” he says. “So all I ask is that you please, please don’t break his heart.”

We stand side by side watching the showcase, breathing the same air. The vibration of sound hit us in the face.

Through the whole two-and-a-half-hour show, I was stuck in a mood, stuck in my head, wishing I had never run into Anton’s friend. I like Anton and don’t mean to hurt him.

That’s never been my intention. Nevertheless, I think I may have gone too far. While toying with his body, I’ve been indirectly toying with his heart.