Part I – The Journey
It was an unusually heavy downpour that dreary Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles. Unusual in the sense that this was the most significant amount of rain we’d had in L.A. County since drought conditions were declared just a few months earlier. I was on my way to meet T.O.N.E-z at the studio where he was shooting the video for his latest single, “My Baby Girl, ft. Alicia Witt”.
My oldest son, Maurice Jr., and I drove under ominous looking gray skies – and among even more ominously questionable drivers. We marveled at the transparent sheets of rain as they drifted across the highway, casting a thick layer of water against the windshield with a dull swoosh. My frantically swinging windshield wipers were desperately – and sometimes ineffectively – trying to push away the water and provide a safe field of vision. Being born and raised in Los Angeles, I’ve seen my fair share of rain. I was pretty confident of my ability to get us from the South Bay to our final destination – an unmarked studio tucked away in the small upscale neighborhood of Windsor Square.
40 minutes into what would normally be a 15 minute drive, I asked my son if we should trudge on or turn back and head home. I called Joel and asked him if the shoot was still happening. Yeah, the rain was coming down THAT hard. But he assured me that everything was still a go, and to be honest, the rain was actually fascinating. There was so much water everywhere that we almost felt like we were in a submarine. Plus, I wanted to meet T.O.N.E-z, whose family includes pioneering MCs T La Rock and Special K of the Treacherous Three. And so, we pressed on…
I was able to expertly navigate the flooded intersection of Western Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard before coming to a stop on 3rd Street. I turned to my son and watched him as he shot brief glances through the water pouring down the passenger door window before turning his attention back to his marathon texting, while also periodically checking to see if he’d had any increase of followers on Vine.
When we arrived at what I thought was our destination, we couldn’t find the building. A quick call to Joel and we discovering that the address he was initially given was wrong. So after a little finagling, we figured it all out and finally pulled up to an unassuming, brick, storefront building just as there was a break in the rain.
Getting out of the car, I saw a guy leaning against the stone wall of an inset door frame. “Is that the guy you were talking to on the phone?”, my son asked pointing out the window. “No,” I said. “That’s not Joel. That, is T.O.N.E.-z,” I said, recognizing him from his Facebook page.
“T.O.N.E.-z?,” I said as we approached him. “Yeah,” he said coolly, with a friendly nod. “Glad you guys made it. Come on in.”
And so, we did…