A week or so ago, I had the chance to meet Smoke E. Digglera, formerly Smokey from the late 90s R&B group Playa. Y’all remember Playa – “Cheers 2 U” was a banger back in 1998 and member Static Major, who passed away in February, wrote a ton of Aaliyah tracks and was featured on that silly Lil Wayne song.
Anyway, Smokey is a really cool dude and it led me to reminisce about my prior experiences with music celebrities. Check out my favorite, and least favorite experiences:
Picture this: Virginia, summer of 2000. I’m working in Babbage’s (now Gamestop), a video-game store at Greenbrier Mall in Chesapeake, Va. It’s a weekday afternoon, so the mall is filled with old people and unemployed guys chasing underage employees at 5-7-9.
My store was empty and I was the only one working. I was keeping myself busy by making chains out of paper clips when a short, rotund man shuffled into the store. I quickly hid my paper-clip snake in a drawer and slid over to see if he needed any help. He was a nice guy, sorta quiet, but there was something about him I couldn’t put my finger on. He asked me which games I thought were good, and every game I mentioned he said “OK, I’ll get it.”
After amassing about 10 games or so, he said, “I guess I’m through.” I thought to myself “I hope this fool’s check doesn’t bounce.” While I was ringing up his order, it hit me – “this guy is a singer” but I still couldn’t place him. But when he gave me his ID after I ran his credit card the truth was revealed – he was Dave Hollister, formerly of BLACKstreet and who had just released his solo album Chicago ’85… The Movie.
When I saw the ID, I exclaimed, “Dave! What’s up, man?” Man, his face lit up like a Christmas tree and his quiet demeanor vanished.
He replied, “Yo! You gonna give me a discount?”
Y‘all know me. I said “Uh, playa, no.”
After I bagged up his games, he hung around, shooting the breeze. And he kept shooting – seemingly forever. Have you ever talked to someone so much that you start looking at the watch on your wrist, only to realize you aren’t wearing one? Yeah.
I guess Dave realized he was talking me to death – my eyes were glazing over and I was leaning on the side of the counter because my legs were asleep – so he grabbed his stuff and left. Ten minutes later, guess who pops back? It’s Dave again, still chatting. I’m like, don’t you have a video to shoot or something? He only stayed for a couple minutes this time before he dashed away.
About an hour later, guess who I see? It’s Dave AGAIN, sprinting past the store with a bunch of bags, smiling and waving while running. I have no idea why he was running. Maybe mall security was after him. Or he ran into Teddy Riley – Teddy was probably looking for money. You know times have been tight for Teddy.
And speaking of Teddy…
Ever heard of Markell Riley? I bet not. He’s Teddy Riley’s brother and was part of Wreckx-N-Effect, which did nothing of note but the infamous “Rump Shaker” song (and God bless ‘em for that video!).
Anyway, picture this: Virginia, circa 1999 at Babbage’s. It’s the holiday season so we’re packed. A scrawny dude comes in the store with like six guys and a plastic Pamela Anderson lookalike on his arm. I thought she was a 5-7-9 mannequin.
Like Dave would do a few months later, he gathered up seven or eight games and brought them to the counter. But unlike Dave, I recognized him right away – mainly because he was featured on an old Queen Pen song that I liked (I’m digging up all the one-hit wonders today). I said, “Hey Markell, how are you doing?”
This guy looked at me like I had three-day old grape jelly smeared on my face and said in a disgusting tone “Can you ring up my stuff?” I was heated. This guy had ONE SONG and ZERO notoriety and he was fronting on me like he was the pope!
I remained professional though as I threw his bag of games at him. He sneered as he left. He was probably mad that he was late for his shift at Waffle House. Those floors don’t mop themselves.
The least he could have done was introduced me to that saxophone-playing lady from the “Rump Shaker” video.
Anyway, the moral of the story is Dave Hollister is cool, Markell Riley sucks.
What are some of your most memorable celebrity encounters?