I bypassed last week’s Old School Friday because I had Record Store Day fish to fry. You’ll forgive me. I have faith. I also have some Me Phi Me in the CD player.
I mentioned in my original entry in the Old School Fridays series that I at one time owned every rap album in the BMG monthly music catalog. No exaggeration, really. As a result of that obsession to discover this totally new (to me) arena of music, I had a lot of bad CDs… but for every three truly terrible rap records I bought, I discovered something spectacular, something that I probably wouldn’t have heard otherwise.
Me Phi Me’s ONE came out in 1992 as a rebuttal to the gangster rap that had just begun to gain some crossover attraction. For this album, I have no particular story of discovery or happenstance, but it’s always stuck with me and grounds me in that Detroit-era time period. Best classified as “folk rap,” Me Phi Me (born La-Ron K. Wilburn) hailed from Flint, Michigan and he conceived the name Me Phi Me as an homage to the historically black fraternities Alpha Phi Alpha and Kappa Alpha Psi.
He gained some notoriety for appearing on the Reality Bites soundtrack, but beyond that and some buzz bin play on BET and MTV, Me Phi Me never gained much widespread popularity. Snippets of lyrics always stayed with me, especially this second verse from “Keep It Goin”:
You heard the rhythm
Saw the mechanism, what a funky system
Coming from the capital P, the H… I am a new age warrior
Fighting the battle for joy and euphoria
I march to the beat of a different drummer
Spring, winter, fall and summer
To show them what happens when you’re proud and strong
You keep going all night long
Here’s Me Phi Me’s “Keep It Goin'”