Ed. Note: Reporter Avinash Chak set off to interview Rakim, his favorite rapper, the day before his concert at Toad’s Place. The interview never happened. These are his notes.


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4:00, Rakim’s manager will call soon to set up interview. Rakim, The God MC, the man who single-handedly gave hip-hop poetic legitimacy. Wonder am I worthy?

5:00, Still staring at phone. Waiting on this like Elijah.

5:15, E-mail from manager saying they “got a little tied up.” Will be calling shortly. Fiending hard for some goldfish right now. Hope Ra performs “Microphone Fiend” tomorrow.

5:30, “Rakim is on 93.7 and will be calling as soon as he gets done.” Find Hot 93.7, Connecticut’s #1 for Hip-Hop and R&B!!!! on stereo. T.I. and Rhianna on the Numa Numa song? Why? Maybe Rakim has answer. Maybe Rakim has all answers.

6:30, Decide to call manager — on his Blackberry. Expect to get voice mail, but he actually picks up. Seems like cool guy. Even plays me couple tracks from upcoming album, album 10 years overdue. Says he doesn’t know why Rakim hasn’t called. “Well, it was his birthday yesterday, you know?” Still recovering from 40+ birthday shots?

7:30, No phone call. Wonder if Rakim will perform unreleased stuff. Hope he’s found producers with beats good enough for his rhymes. Hasn’t had a great album since he and Eric B split.

8:30, Thinkin’ of a master plan … I remember the first time I heard “Paid in Full.” All good ’90s hip-hop is essentially derived from that album.

9:30, Call the manager again. Surprised Ra hasn’t called. Says he’ll call him and “make sure he contacts me.” Dismisses personal responsibility. Do I even have the right number?

10:00, “Manager” ’s voicemail.

10:30, Nothing to be done. Still tell friends I talked to Him. Best conversation of my life.


9:30, Toad’s Place is empty like my yesterday. Some random DJ doing set.

9:45, Right in front of stage. Close enough to ask Rakim why he blew off my interview. Blasphemy. Might get killed by all the hip-hop heads in here.

10:00, Opener is Icon the Mic King. Jolly looking dude with long braids. Songs are alright.

10:30, Icon puts blindfold on and freestyles 10 minutes about random objects passed to him. Greatest thing I’ve ever seen in hip-hop show. Now where’s Rakim?

11:00, Second opener. Didn’t bother learning their names. Where’s Ra? Why isn’t everyone chanting “Rakim! Rakim!?” Get these guys off the stage.

11:40, New DJ on stage, Rakim’s hopefully. Turns down music. “Y’all ready to see Rakim?” Well here’s some other rapper to waste your time before you see Rakim.

11:45, Legs sore, arms tired, eardrums probably tearing slowly.

12:10, Watching guy on side of stage dance his ass off. Who are those people anyway? Why are they on stage?

12:30, He’s really dancing his ass off. Maybe if he weren’t having so much fun, Ra would come on.

12:35, White guy in hoodie walks on stage. Looks like voice from Blackberry. But looks like douche. Explains yesterday.

1:00, Didn’t anyone tell Rakim Toad’s closes at 2:00?

1:15, Finally.

1:25, “I was a fiend, before I became a teen. I melted microphones instead of cones of ice cream.” Satisfaction.

1:45, Ra introduces song from upcoming album. Amazing. Can’t wait. Feel just as excited as last 4 times I heard the album’s about to drop.

2:00, Rakim loves New Haven. Loves me and everyone else here — enough to play a 45 minute set. Peace.

2:15, Back in my room. Nothing to be done. Gonna listen to “Paid in Full” then go to sleep.

Saturday Morning

11:15, Put sweet Rakim pic from concert on my cell phone background.