MNR: Forgotten Notes (Curt Lennon’s psalm)
“My thun is speaking to his twin ghost.”
Prodigy, “Quiet Storm” (original)
“Makes me call my homie on the phone, like there’s something new out, that’s got me in a zone. It’s just that feeling, got me. I wish music could adopt me. (Just like music)”
Erick Sermon feat. Marvin Gaye, “Music”
A few months before I found out that my brother Curtis DeAngelo Lennon was assassinated, he called me clear out the blue. I don’t remember what year he passed (I try not to embed the years of tragedies in my head). I just remember sitting at the table when I got a call from an unknown Carolina number. I picked up, and it was my brother Curt on the other end. I hadn’t heard from Curt since I left Richmond years earlier. I was surprised that he called, but I was elated that he called. He told me he got my number from someone – I’m not sure who. But my brother thought enough about me to make a few calls to get my number, and he called to chop it up with his old pal.
Curt and I became true friends after we pledged together. Ultimately, grades prevented him from completion, but we remained close. Unfortunately, circumstances that were way above my head prevented me from crossing the burning sands as well. But in retrospect, that really doesn’t matter because the brotherhood that was forged by so many of us remains to this very day. I’m not going to name drop because there’s a lot of pain wrapped up in this whole ordeal. If you were on the yard of VUU around that time you probably know what I’m talmbout. If not, you don’t. But anyways…my bro called my line and immediately put a smile on my face. Curt was a whole other level of cool. He was the first well-to-do Black kid I’d ever met that wasn’t either A) a complete and utter asshole or B) somehow ashamed that he was privileged and didn’t have to go through what so many of us had to because of some form of economic hardship. He was completely comfortable with the skin he was in. That was a big part of Curt’s cool. Not to mention that he had a full beard at 20 years old and a closet that would have made a celebrity run for the black card, as well as a new cocaine white Jeep Cherokee with North Carolina plates, taking up big space in the student parking lot. But back to the call. We chopped it up for a good minute, bringing the other up to speed on our current life situation. He let me know that he left Richmond and was back home in Carolina after a falling out with a roommate. He told me he left his clothes (WHAT?), furniture, and all. He just got in his ride and left. But he was doing well. I’m certain I didn’t have much to say about my life at the time, as I was in the early stages of being a career underachiever, working jobs that I coulda worked without a degree and living in my aunt and uncle’s house. But that really didn’t matter, for I knew that any type of pretense was completely unnecessary; none of that shit mattered to Curt. It never mattered to him. We never spoke on money or any of the bullshit that came with it. What we did speak on was Homecoming. He informed me that he’d be attending and wondered if I’d be doing the same because he wanted to see my face. He let me know that he loved me and that he missed me. He spoke on how he couldn’t wait to attend a function that weekend in his “slide-on’s,” referring to a pair of comfortable loafers. He said that “you had to throw on a pair of slide-on’s” and step into the venue to cut a rug or two. I laughed and laughed. I coulda listened all night to Curt talking his shit. My brother was an all-time great when it came to being smooth. I knew this before I even knew him as a person. I’d see him on the yard from time to time. He was always fly and, from a distance, always had a gregarious and magnanimous personality. Getting to know him on a personal level only confirmed this. Curt was one of the original kings of cool. The irony in this unexpected conversation is that, even though I told Curt that I probably wouldn’t be attending Homecoming, I figured that we’d catch up in the near future. After all, we had the rest of our lives to get up, right?
I learned months later that my brother Curt was the victim of a home invasion. He was shot and killed. When I tell you that I was totally floored by the news, please believe me. Not Curt. Curt was the type that coulda charmed his way out of damn near anything. And as far as a robbery…Curt woulda had no problem letting a MF take whatever. I was informed that, somehow, his housemate survived the incident (hand on chin emoji 3x). If I EVER get intel on who he is and where he lays his head, I’m a see him one day. That’s on my brother in heaven. But I digress.
I was home yesterday after church, playing GTA V online, as usual. When I’m riding around Los Santos causing pure havoc, I either have the radio on Space 103 with Bootsy Collins, West Coast Classics with DJ Pooh, or off cuz I need to concentrate. Whenever you request your vehicle from the mechanic, he usually leaves the radio on when he drops it off. It just so happens that when he dropped off my Deluxo (think DeLorean – it hovers, flies, and shoots homing missiles), the radio was turned to Worldwide FM, hosted by Gilles Peterson. It played the song “Forgotten Notes” by Hackman, a dance track that samples a chopped and tweaked vocal of Faith Evans’ “Love Like This” (luh huh since ’95). I can’t call it, but just know that I immediately saved it to my RockStar account list and purchased it from iTunes. It put me in a zone. I was first intrigued by the vocals, not even realizing it was Faith, but it made perfect sense when I found out. Like most songs on GTA V, they’re perfect for riding out. I guess that’s what initially hooked me. It’s extra smooth, and Hackman was a genius for how he manipulated Faith’s vocals. And somehow, some way, my vivid imagination takes me to being in a European dance club somewhere like Brixton, London with this track pulsating through the speakers, fueling my high and intoxication, eliminating all inhibitions. Of course, I gotta have my slide-on's on my feet. This brought me to Curt. I’ve got the perfect pair of coffee colored Cole Haan’s for the occasion. I miss and love you Curt. I’m a keep your name alive until I am no more.
I’ve listened to “Forgotten Notes” about 50 times since yesterday, vacillating between tears and joy. That’s the beauty of music. It can immediately take us back to a certain place and time. Whenever Luther comes on, I immediately think about Shareon. He was her favorite. Whenever I listen to “Killing Me Softly” by the Fugees, the breakdown takes me to the school parties of the ’95-’96 academic year at HCHS. We voted it the song of the year for senior superlatives. I’ve lost at least six classmates over the years, including my pals Mike Vanney and Derrick “Lawman” Lawson, as well as the home girl Tisha Pannell (we attended VUU together). In my heart, whenever Lauryn bellows through the breakdown as only she can, all of my dead folk are still alive and vibrant. We’re all reunited in the lobby of the school, the location for all our parties, dancing the night away (until 11). “Forgotten Notes” makes me want to hit a real dance/techno/post wave club and get busy for a few. But I can’t without my slide-on’s. And every time I think about or say slide-on’s, Curt is alive in my heart.
Holla my folk @nasty_boyz420 on IG for the best tasting THC-infused lemonade in all of America. It’s made from freshly squeezed lemons and is quite amazing. Just ask Yankees great and future Hall of Famer C.C. Sabathia. He approves. That’s my time y’all. Tell your loved ones exactly how much they mean to you whenever possible. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. RIP Travis Thornton, another slain VUU legend. RIP Chubby, my big homie and true King of New York.
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