Allow me to start by saying I personally can’t play the song at hand. Figuring you’d rather not read about Chris Brown’s “Forever” or “Chopsticks,” I opted instead to share a quick story about an old friend of mine and the way he picked up girls with 2Pac.
During my tenure in high school, I associated with damn near everyone. Whether you rocked Warn-A-Brother t-shirts or tape on your glasses, if you had manners, you were pretty much guaranteed a hello from BEWARE. One hombre that became more than just a courtesy nod was my friend Mike; who became strictly known as Bake Dog, once his upperclassman cold shoulder wore off and we became cool. A year older than I and much more seasoned in his extra-curricular activities, Bake Dog was a good person to know. Aside from serving up my first taste of goods, this hoodlum with a heart made you part of the crew with alliterated nicknames and occasionally unwanted advice, all due to his overall-inclusive nature on life in general. However, he also carried some Bruce Banner qualities. Despite being a typically mild-mannered guy, Bake Dog was down for the get down at all times and could tend to be a loose cannon. But, like I said, he was a good person to know.
In the midst of getting acquainted, there was one night specifically when I realized there was much more to his Jekyll & Hyde persona than let on. While at a house party turned Jim-Beam-sleepover, I watched Bake Dog game a young, initially unimpressed female in a way neither of us saw coming. Instead of putting his arm around her or dropping the “You must be tired” line, this tamed Pitbull Terrier sat down at the living room’s underused, grand piano and began effortlessly playing 2Pac’s “I Ain’t Mad At Cha.” In memory, whether or not he got the girl or could even play any other songs is irrelevant.
What enlightened me at that moment was how much someone’s personality shines through when given the right opportunity. At school and during social events, Bake Dog was always depicted as a troublemaker, so he gave the people what they wanted. He played that role and, more often than not, the resolution ended against his favor. But in situations like this, when others’ judgement were last on his priority list, a gentleman emerged. A talented one at that. The spotlight shown on this multi-dimensional character at that point emphasized the old book cover adage for me. Not only at that moment, but every time I hear the Blackstreet-esque keys on this All Eyez On Me disc one single.
Sadly, as much as I’d love to send him a link to this written cheers, Bake Dogg passed away last year at the blossoming age of 27. During a tour in Iraq for his beloved Marine Corps, the then-Sgt. Baker developed an extremely rare form of cancer with 20-syllables causing the last few years of his life to be filled with chemotherapy and (un)radical surgeries. Thankfully, a baby daughter and new wife helped balance out the uncertainties.
Truth be told, the last time I saw Mike, I didn’t even recognize the guy because of bandages covering his face. Not until afterward did I find out he’d been in the building. Actually, I still feel pretty bad about not getting to go up and say hello for old times’ sake. Knowing him, though, he probably wouldn’t care either way. Just as long as ‘Pac got played and his loved ones got props.
Previously: Day 25 — A Song That Makes You Laugh