Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Making of Spyder's Web

So it's been a minute since I updated my blog, I've been really busy and it's hard for me to write when things are hectic. At some point I need to sit down and get back to writing this book. I'm a third of the way through with it, but knowing me like I do, I'll probably re-write it 3 times before i settle on the final version.

Writing is an art like pottery and painting - at least good writing is. I remember when I was a little kid and I would see painters doing their thing and would think to myself: "That looks pretty damn boring." A painter - at least a good one,doesn't start off painting a red house and green grass and all that other shit without first sketching the drawing first and then after that is done he colors in the details. It's the same way with writing: you fashion, form, and shape images with words.

With good writing you should be able to hear the writers voice and see what he's talking about.

When I first started writing Spyder's Web I had no idea as to how I was going to write it. My first thought was to cover the story as a journalist and get long quotes from people and build the story that way, but then it dawned on me: This is an autobiography, it must be from the main characters point of view. My favorite books are told from the main characters point of view: "Pimp: The Story of My Life by Iceberg Slim", "The Autobiography of Malcolm X", "A Taste of Power", "The Coldest Winter Ever" are all told from the main characters point of view. Spyder's story had to be told the same way.

After reading what I had initially wrote, I knew I was in over my head. Especially if I had any hope at all of selling the book. But when in doubt or lost, God sends messages through people to get you back on track.

Let me back up for a minute and really take you back. Before I became a writer I had an idea for two books: one was about a Black politician making a serious run to be President and the other was a hip hop Five Heartbeats kind of story. It was going to be about a group of guys that grew up in Queens, New York in the 70's who formed a rap group and found stardom but later got lost in the perils of the music business. Along the way, the perils of street life and growing up in general become blockades to them being able to stay on top. They all get hooked on drugs and get lost in the 80's and only a couple of them emerge in the mid 90's to resurrect their careers.

Now while I was extremely familiar with the characters and the places and era and all that kind of stuff I had the hardest time writing the story. Well after months of difficulty writing the story, enter: Spyder D.

After reading the article I wrote about him Spyder was impressed enough with me to ask me to write his book, which was originally to be called "So, You Wanna Be a Rapper..."

Spyder was almost dead on the character I had been writing about. I jumped at the chance. His book was supposed to be about the perils of the music business. But after talking with him I sensed a much broader story: Spyder came up in the beginning of recorded rap records and through his hard work and hustle was able to maintain that career through the late 80's. His is the textbook example of what can go wrong when an artist doesn't have the right people or the right timing going for himself. Things should've jumped off better for Spyder. He had the right manager, the right record label, and all the right connections but the timing was never right - it was always late. Spyder was doing what Dr. Dre was doing in the 90's - in the early 80's: he was a producer, record label owner, artist and manager, but rap/hip hop was nowhere near as popular as it is now, then.

In the 80's Black radio was feeling itself for real. Luther Vandross (R.I.P.), Freddy Jackson, Melba Moore, Patti Labelle and many others were the staples of Black radio. If you weren't on smoothed out R&B shit you weren't getting on Black radio - at all. Hip Hop was the bastard stepchild of the unwanted welfare stepchild that folks were seriously wishing would just get up an go away.

Back then there were no "collaborations" between rap cats and R&B cats, that was not going to happen. I wish I could've been a fly on the wall in 1982 when (and if) some A&R guy would've called A&M Records and said: 'Hey, what's happening man, this is Donnie, hey man, I was wondering if, maybe we could get Freddie Jackson together with Kurtis Blow for a duet....hello?...hello?

Wouldn't have happened.

As a matter of fact I'm going to write a scene in this book where Spyder and Sparky (Spyder's girlfriend and artist) go talk to somebody from a major record label, he'll be a guy still stuck in the disco era, with the white suit and all, waiting for the resurrection of Donna Summer's career. He'll call Spyder and Sparky: Spider Man and Spanky. He'll say things like: 'Hey, I know this business, I just got off the phone with Gloria Gaynor an hour ago. So, Spider, can you and Spanky team up with that rap guy, what's his name? He did the Bus, the bus, the broken leg? Uh, The Breaks, yeah that's it, Kurtis Brown!"

That was the kind of willful ignorance that rap cats faced in the 80's. This book is going to have all of that and then some, and be a raw tale as well. Just as soon as get off my lazy ass and start writing it again!

4 comments:

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chase said...

why the hell u start a blog iffin u aint gonna use it? Get your ass over here and start bloggin again. If you get a chance, read my last two posts and let me know what u think. did you move yet?

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