My trek started in Staten Island, Shaolin for those of you who are up on your Wu-Tang NYC, history. A drive, a train ride, a ferry ride, and another train ride brought me to my destination of SOB’s in Manhattan. SOB’s being short for “Sounds of Brazil,” not really what you’d think, is it?
After waiting a few minutes, I entered the venue with the publicist and met Marty and Fern a few minutes later. I had interviewed them on the phone a month or so back so they remembered me and I was greeted warmly.
I have seen these guys in pictures and videos before, but seeing them together makes you really notice how unlikely of a pair they look like together. Fern has a very distinguished beard. Marty has stubble. Fern is very skinny and a bit lanky while Marty is the opposite. Speaking with Fern is like speaking to someone who’s been through the ringer, but came out on the other side and is imparting their wisdom onto to everyone around him. Having a conversation with Marty is like talking to a friend you’ve known for years, no awkwardness, holding nothing back. The two are nearly ten years apart in age, and yet when they get together for business, music, and God, they mesh like Mos Def and Talib Kweli.
After finding the perfect spot to do a Facebook Live interview and being seconds away from pressing the live button, soundcheck began and they had to run through a song.
Proceeding the soundcheck, we headed down to the green room where we found a nice SOB’s backdrop to do the interview. Everything went smoothly as the guys chatted about their new album, Sway, pineapple on pizza, and their favorite NYC emcees.
Now it was time to wait. It was around 6 o’clock and Social Club was slated to go on at 9 p.m. The night’s event saw them as headliners at a BET Showcase that was to be live streamed online…it wasn’t. One of the notable openers was Oswin Benjamin. Also known as the guy who rapped (killed it) after Shia LaBeouf on Sway in the Morning.
Little by little, Social Club’s actual friends and family started pouring into the green room. It began with the group’s DJ, Ray Rock and then followed with Andy Mineo’s former DJ, Dre. Amari, from Social Club’s song “Pop Out Revenge” was there as well as Marty and Fern’s wives.
As the size of the room grew, the love began to grow as well. Ray Rock broke out into a small moment of reflection as he spoke about all the major first’s in life. He along with Social Club shared what God was doing in their lives for the first time. It was a poignant moment for me as well, a much-needed pause to think about my most recent blessing, a first child.
In the midst of a semi-devotional with another one of the night’s emcees on the side respectfully listening and watching, the quiet time was broken up by what appeared to be a stranger walking into the room, dapping everyone up and introducing himself. This stranger turned out to be part of hip-hop royalty. It was Big Pun’s son Chris Rivers. He had just performed and was encouraged by one of Social Club’s friends to come meet the guys, more specifically, Fern. Fern shared that in 1998 or 99, he met Big Pun and was slated to rap at a Pun concert but due to some circumstances, it never happened. Then they all took a picture together.
Throughout the night Fern was in teacher mode. He was speaking about how to best utilize Instagram and how to keep God your focus and ministering to people one on one. He took issue with a comment online that said something to the effect of “Social Club doesn’t have their priorities straight.”
If you are reading this and you don’t believe your snarky or hurtful comment will ever reach an artist, they do. One negative comment sometimes has the power to cancel out 100 positive ones. This isn’t to say that artists are sensitive. This is to say that when you build your whole life around a ministry and pour your heart and soul into reaching people of all walks of life, a little jab at their character is a little jab at God’s calling. This is especially true of a comment that provides no evidence of said mangled “priorities.”
Most of my conversations with Marty involved touring, merch, and some of the happenings in Christian hip-hop.
The conversation opened up into to talking about sneakers, which I admittedly am not knowledgeable on. I was also not representing myself well. It had been raining in Staten Island and I had a nearly two-hour commute so I threw on a pair of beat up Timberland’s and went to a hip-hop show. It wasn’t the brightest idea, but hey, I write stories about interesting people. When they start writing stories about me, I’ll make an investment, or maybe I won’t because…
Marty bought me a pair of shoes.
Looking at my less than stellar kicks and giving me the “What are thoooose” treatment, Marty said, “I’m buying you shoes. I’m not kidding.”
I played along for a bit and told him I’m a size 12. He then turned his phone around to a page asking for my address. I gave him the info.
“I want to bless you. Plus your shoes are ugly.”
My new Vans come in three to five business days…
It was almost 9 p.m. and there was no way Social Club would hit the stage at their allotted time. At around 9:45 we headed out to the hallway to wait for them to be called to the stage and it just seemed like artist after artist kept going on. Fern was getting a little hyped up and Marty was anxious to get on.
Finally at around 10:20 it was Social Club’s turn to perform their roughly 20-minute set. Some monitor issues, in the beginning, tried to derail the opening track for them but they hit their stride once they could hear themselves.
Interestingly enough, a hip-hop mosh pit of sorts opened up in the middle of the floor. That was something new.
Their set consisted of “Pop Out Revenge,” “Different People,” “One With the New Yorkers,” “Social SZN,” and “Pizza Party.”
The guys killed it, stepped off stage after a successful show and headed back down to the green room to their friends and family.
I said my goodbyes and headed on the long journey home as the New Yorker who became one with the friends and the family.
Watch the live stream interview below: