I didn’t sleep at all the night before the show.
Even when I did close my eyes I just woke in another place, preparing for what was to come.
I knew this was going to be the most important show of the tour for me, maybe of my life.
But I knew it far in the back of my mind and not until that moment, when my subconscious took the controls.
Me and the team were about to play our 7th show of the tour at a big venue in Bologna, Italy. Bologna is arguably the hip-hop capital of Italy – or at least it was – but more than that, I have a deep connection with this place. I was born in Italy and almost all of my family lives still lives there. I left at a young age, but always kept a strong tie and now I’ve come back for the first time in the fatherland as an artist. Like it or not I represent these people. I felt the eyes of my ancestors were going to be watching down on me from the front row. I was representing my family in front of these people too. Not to overlook the fact that 3 of us on the team are Italian and that we are on a very important tour, with the potential to lock in a vital new market.
So the pressure was on.
Throughout that whole night I must have rocked that show like 20 times in my sleep. I would wake up every 30 minutes like it was morning. 3am, 3:45am, 4:15am. But when it was eventually time to get up, I knew exactly what was going to go down that night. The plan was crystal clear.
We woke up early and began our 7 hour drive through the Austrian Alps to Bologna. Our first stop to eat in Italy was… a McDonald’s near Trento. Hard face palms all around, especially when it would turn out to be the only thing we would eat until after 3AM…
Arrived in good time to meet up with some old friends, re-up on some fire trees and hit up a beer right in the centre near the main piazza. Absolutely beautiful city, the history and the immense difference in the structures from place to place was really beginning to stand out. Bologna is home to Tortellini,
We crushed a tall red-headed Moretti at the bar while some family was having a wedding next door that was spilling out on the streets so the homies witnessed things get a little greasy pretty quick with the dancing, yelling, the wine and all that.
We went and hit up some doppios over at a local bar to let the boy understand that true coffee only exists in Italy. Walked away zinging feeling like we hit a bump of cocaine. Stopped over a at a weed shop where quality CBD flower is sold legally and reaches astronomical levels like 23%.
Then the rain began, and it doesn’t drizzle in Italy, it pours. Unlike Vancouverites, Italians are terrified of rain. It came down and would not stop. Talking to my friends, they said (in a thick northern accent), “Deez rain wuud keep Italians at ‘ome even if was playing Znoop Dogg.” This is BIG FACTS, but if there’s one thing Snak definitely has it’s dedicated fans, and we knew the hardcores would not want to miss out.
We came in and we were treated really well by our host Francesco. We had our own separate dressing room that was stocked with snacks, panini and pitchers of white wine. I wasn’t drinking beer that night. We had a fat bag of green and a bunch of CBD tree and all those comforts that allow one to ease into focus.
This was key because I was fucking vibrating. Soundcheck sounded beautiful but Atti came to me after and took hold of me kinda, and said, “bro I know this is an important show for you, just take some breaths man, you got this and we got you.” I told him, “I got this bro, trust me.” I could feel the squad had me though. The team was feeding off my energy so I tried to keep it in check but I was emotional. When alone I felt tears stirring in the back of my eyes and was literally jumping and stretching in the dressing room and taking pregnancy breaths. This was for the championship. Bigger than that though. Some of my oldest friends were going to be there. Some of my family too. My grandparents had recently passed and I dedicated this show to them. All of my family’s sacrifices brought me to this point and I had come home.
I locked the door to the dressing room and I took to my knees to pray. I didn’t pray to any god but to my grandparents themselves. I thanked them for all they had done and asked my guardian angels for energy, breath and diction, for the stamina to carry out the task at hand and to represent correctly.
I rose feeling like a lazer. I already had the plan all worked out. I rolled up some straight CBD Critical Mass, made a silent toast and had a glass of wine.
When I peeked outside the dressing room the venue that was supposed to hold 600 people had just over 100. My friend was right about the rain. Not only that, but they were all sitting along the sides and far in the back where there were tables to sit at. There was nobody near the proximity of the front of the stage.
We stalled as long as we could, took down some pitchers of wine and then it was time. We were announced then we went on to meet D-Rec who was already set up and spinning a few classics for the people. As we got on stage, a few people started trickling towards the front of the stage, but not many.
But I had a plan…
I got to the centre of the stage and started singing opera.
“La Donna È Mobile” by Giueseppe Verdi as sung by Pavarotti in Rigoletto started bellowing throughout the venue. More people started coming up to the stage. Curious smiles. I kept singing and waving my hands gesturing for everyone to come forth, come hither my people, come one come all. I kept singing and more people came and the stage was getting full and soon there was a good crowd.
“Bologna what up!” got a mediocre response. But as per the plan, I began to tell them the story of our tour, where we come from, how far we’d come to be here, all the weed we had snuck through borders, and that we were the official openers for the Snak The Ripper Off The Rails European Tour. So when I said, “So let me ask you again, Bologna, NOW are you motherfuckers ready to rock with us tonight??” the screams shook the lid on the pot and the place was fuckin activated.
We were on fuckin fire that night. 3 tracks in and that crowd was ready for blood. It wasn’t the biggest crowd of the tour but definitely top 3 of the tour for pure madness. Primal shit.
It was the perfect moment to set into motion the most critical part of the plan. As per my plan, halfway through the set I switched gears on the audience. I told the crowd that before we continued, I had something to confess; that I’d been lying to them a little… It got quiet…. and then I began speaking Italian…
An explosion. The reaction from the crowd was immensity. I kept speaking and engaged the crowd. I spoke the truth of how important this show was to me. That I had returned home to rock this show for my grandparents. If there was another level of energy to reach we reached it; there was unity between the artists and the crowd.
We dropped Doo the Wop next… in Italy… and fuckin bananas rained from the sky guy it was pandemonium. The bros were on fire that night they were killing it I could feel it. Nobody even thought at all, everything was just clicking. It was a dream.
The set got bodied. Listen… we walked in to crickets at the back of the venue… and by the end, the crowd was so fuckin wild we had a pic taken with them and there were so many hands in the air you couldn’t even see the back of the venue anymore.
But the crowd kept going and I just couldn’t leave the stage. D-Rec was spinning Onyx right after, keeping the vibe hype and we were still there slapping hands and thanking people for rocking with us. So many people… I was overjoyed I said fuck it and just jumped into the crowd tried to hug everybody. Me and like 40 people – could have been 10 could have been 100 people – were jumping up and down together yelling “Ey! Ey! Ey!” like we just won the championship. Legendary times.
We got off-stage, went back into the dressing room all cool and shit, then closed the door and cheers erupted as for Nicky Scarfo this was also a very important show. He and I were jumping like Italy advanced to the World Cup finals. Guys were were on a next level high. Hugging each other and swigging wine out of the jug, rolling up celebratory canoons.
I know my grandparents saw that. 100. That day I could hold my head up. I could feel it in my bones. We did it and we did it right. Guy I can’t describe the feeling.
Mad drinks and joints were had and as per usual, connecting with the fans made it hard to leave. As it turns out, the promoter is as passionate about Carbonara pasta as anybody I’ve ever heard of. As it also turns out, carbonara is also Snak’s favourite pasta and so after planting the idea in his head earlier on in the night, Francesco invited the whole tour crew out to his farm-house for carbonara lunch on the Reggiano countryside the next day.
Nicky and I woke up at my homie’s place and we went for a walk down to the bar to break our fast with espressos and bomboloni.
We caravanned out past the outskirts of the city and got greeted not only by Francesco at his farmhouse but also by such a beautiful day for lunch in the fresh air. The sun was out we we in a big garden we had weed, hash, beer, the best box of table wine in existence, fresh tomatoes, basil, rustic bread, olive oil. Everything just getting passed around. Real relaxed vibe. Halfway done the tour we did it.
We sat at a long table in the field covered in a table cloth and plates set for 12 people. Finally the carbonara came…
… Francesco did not lie. It was one of the best carbonara’s I’ve ever had. What did it for me was the way he cooked the guanciale, with a bit of crispiness to the texture. The shit got Nicky Scarfed. Rissy couldn’t finish it but, you know, he’s got less room for food than the rest of us. We were so full and just being in the sun with the vino and tings we were just done.
Great show, great people, great food, good smoke, great scenery. What a time to be alive.
Now to drive back north across the Alps into France.