Misty Wudder-Colored Portraits of the Artist as a Young Man: Grade Seven Tryin' To Kill Me!
Q-Tip famously rapped the above line on Jive/RCA cassettes and CD’s in 1990.
The picture directly underneath this text is of the aforementioned Nipper, listening to the Victrola for “His Master’s Voice”, in the stained glass window that still sits atop the old RCA offices known as the “Nipper Building” in Camden, New Jersey.
The cover photo is yours truly at age 4, a full decade before The People’s Instinctive Travels & The Paths Of Rhythm’s release, taken at an “Open House”, which allowed RCA employees to bring their kids to the office for a full tour.
My old man was working in the finance department, but this chair, as well as this office, belonged to his then-boss Ernie.
Quite the precocious little boy, at around age 3, I began to wake up when my father did, pretending I had a job to go to, like he did.
I'd walk into my parents’ bedroom as my father was getting dressed for work, and soon started pantomiming his movements in the mirror.
Sometime shortly after this habit started, my father asked where I was going, or what work I had to do.
My reply was “I’m going to The Pumpery”, a make-believe workplace that I had just created.
I'd usually carry some stacks of papers, or a makeshift briefcase to lug around the house, while pretending to be in a rush, all in efforts to maintain the illusion.
So you can imagine my delight that day about a year later, getting the chance to sit in the old man’s boss’ seat, inside the building with Nipper the doggy at the top of it.
When my mother speaks about me as a very young child, she gets a big smile on her face and far away glimmer in her eye.
Perhaps because I was by most standards advanced at an early age, reading the Berenstain Bears Picnic to my nursery school class at 3 ½ years old, while my still-diaper-rocking peers were sitting atop piles of their own feces, while I regaled them with the tale.
My father and I would later jokingly refer to that time period my mother speaks about, with that twinkle in her eye, as "My Prime".
This was before adolescence took me down a dark alley and nearly curb-stomped me into submission.
Unofficially My Prime stretches from approximately 3 thru 9, starts to taper off a bit annually each year after that, then takes a precipitous dip at about 13.
It's been somewhere between free-falling and paddling upstream ever since.
By 1990, when I heard Tip kick that line, much to my father’s chagrin the “His Master’s Voice” I tended to heed most was either inside my own head, like The Pumpery, or coming from one of those cassettes and CD’s.
However if either of them looks back, even as early as age four, while still in the midst of My Prime, they could have seen all the signs of things to come before fourteen.
Long before I paid the cost, in my mind, I was already a Boss.