Can I Kick It? Rap Stars We Have Known, Sorta

Here's a thing that could happen: Maybe you are in a restaurant ordering dinner when suddenly there's a flurry of activity among the waitstaff and a buzz among the patrons. You just came in for a bowl of pho...and so did Jay-Z. (Guess who's getting his meal first.)

In all our oohing and aahing over music celebrities, we sometimes forget they are also human and occasionally may wish to step out for dinner or a drink or to shop or to attend church or to do some other thing that is part of real life.

When this happens, everyone breaks out a cameraphone because that is a thing now, having a phone that is not connected to a wall by a wire but also fits in your pocket and takes photographs, too.

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Recently I got to wondering how often this happens to people I know. So I reached out to my small circle of friends on Facebook and Twitter to ask about their chance encounters with famous musicians.

My survey was highly unscientific, but it yielded a very obvious and unexpected result. It would seem that hip-hop artists are the most approachable and willing to hang out with us regular folks.

This indeed turned out to be the case, at least among my friends and family. Pretty much everyone who responded had a story about some rapper they kicked it with -- except for an awesome story my friend Jacob shared about a Swedish death-metal band.

"I hung out and smoked cigarettes with the guys from Twiztid when they played the Engine Room back in 2005," he recalls.

I found this a bit weird. Jacob has very diverse music tastes, but I never pegged him as someone who would be at a Twiztid show, much less chain-smoking Camels with the band.

"We talked horror movies, I got autographs and then had to head home," he says.

Geoff is another friend, also with a broad musical palate. He has met some legends like Black Flag founding member Chuck Dukowski and MDC's Dave Dictor, both of whom were fantastic, down-to-earth people, Geoff says. And so were the A$AP Mob members he met last year.

"I met two of the guys from that group that A$AP Rocky started at the last Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin," he says. "I was watching Kreayshawn to kill some time, and Ty Beats and another member of A$AP asked if I had more of what I was smoking, 'cause it smelled good."

Sometimes meeting famous music folks is good for the bottom line. Last fall, a bunch of us met at Flying Saucer downtown to conduct our fantasy football draft. One of our friends, Rolando, is a photographer and artist. He designed a popular T-shirt for Houston Texans fans, and we all had to sit around drinking $8 beers while we waited for him to deliver one of those shirts to Bun B on draft night.

We didn't mind. Aside from meeting one of the all-time greats, he was making paper, and we all respect that.

"The year before, he tweeted he had to have that shirt, and once he did that, I had a line of folks waiting for the shirt, but we never got to meet up," Rolando says. "Then I ran into him at Boondocks, we talked for a bit and he told me on the next batch he would come to me and get one.

"Once I had a new batch ready, I text-messaged him, and he came down and got one and tweeted it out," he continues, "and I had a line of folks again."

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"He even tweeted out the hats I made and the DJ from Paris, France, Brodinski, ordered one," Rolando says. "He had to have it because Bun B tweeted it out. The guy paid more in shipping than the actual hat to get it."

When you think of rappers out in public, you're less inclined to think of them meeting you on a street corner to buy a T-shirt than maybe seeing them in the club or someplace swanky. That was the case when my nephew, James, and his lovely wife Brooke met Coolio. Their simple Las Vegas hotel elevator ride turned into a "gangsta's paradise" when the rapper and his entourage of groupies entered. Both Brooke and James report that Coolio was an absolute gentleman and very personable.

That wasn't the case when my brother met Death Row Records mogul Suge Knight. Things started out okay, with my brother chatting his way past security and Knight agreeing to a photo. When my brother asked for a second snapshot and suggested Knight hold him by his ankles -- as he allegedly did to Vanilla Ice on a high balcony to supposedly shake royalties out of him, an incident Ice says never happened -- my brother was promptly told to move along.

Watsky was much nicer to my kids when he agreed to a photo with them at his last local appearance at Warehouse Live. My son is a big fan and was disappointed that Houston didn't show up in better numbers for the San Francisco rapper and spoken-word poet. But his night got a little better when his sister hailed Watsky over for a picture after the show.

My friend Patrick is the gold medalist of this sort of activity. He's met Joel Madden from Good Charlotte, members of Nappy Roots (remember them?) and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's Bizzy Bone. He's a young, single man, so his biggest coup was meeting Fergie and The Black Eyed Peas. Sorry, no photo for that one.

"I convinced their tour bus driver to let me on the bus and hang out. I met Fergie, Will and one of the other guys," he says. "It was around 2003 and Fergie was smoking hot even after being sweaty and leaving Toc Bar.

"The entertaining part was that they let this young HISD teacher on the bus who was wearing a short skirt and Hello Kitty undies," Patrick adds. "Yeow!"

Which brings us back to Jacob, whose best hangout story involves not a rapper but Amon Amarth, death-metalists whose songs include sure-come-on-over-and-chat ditties like "The Last with Pagan Blood" and "Where Is Your God?"

"I did drink mead out of a horn with Amon Amarth in December of 2005 when they played the Meridian," he says proudly. "I ran into [vocalist] Johan Hegg in the lobby; I ran up to him, and he invited me onto the tour bus for a half hour while Trivium played.

"We had some mead, some kind of Scandinavian beer, and jammed metal songs until I realized, oh shit, Children of Bodom was coming on and I wasn't going to miss their set."


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