#41. I met Doug E. Fresh (Tampa 1998, New Orleans 2006)


the original human beat box

Back in the days of answering machines with cassette tapes in them — when you had to wait until you got home to play the tape and hear your messages — I called Doug E. Fresh’s house and had the pleasure of hearing his personalized outgoing message, rendered all in beatbox. Brrrrrt diggity brrrt, leave a brrt-drrt-drrt message… It was amazing.

I otherwise remember little about that eventual conversation.

However, we followed that uneventful 1999 meeting up with a second, more substantial call in 2006, weeks before Doug, Slick Rick and Big Daddy Kane all performed at the first post-Katrina Jazz Fest (I spoke with all three rap legends in one day!). When I asked Doug E. Fresh, “How do you feel about not playing any jazz at Jazz Fest?” he replied, “Well, everything derives from jazz… Plus, I may break down into a jazz set. I can do whatever.”

Good answer! “The World’s Greatest Entertainer” was very nice, but also blunt. He told me his sons performed music, but that it bored him.

MPW: You told your sons you were bored with their music? How did they respond?

DEF: Well, they know I’m not a hater, and they know I’m in the mix and that I know what’s going on. So it’s real hard to be mad at me. I like the new group they’re doing…

Doug E. Fresh also asked a lot of questions about Katrina…

MPW: Do you agree with what Kanye West said about Bush?

DEF: What Kanye said was definitely true — in his heart. He didn’t see enough support going out to black people. A lot of people felt that same way, but didn’t have the heart to say it. But even under the circumstance, I’m gonna feel good coming back there! Ain’t no city parties like New Orleans, baby!

MPW: The neighborhood you’re performing in did flood but has come back. Please make a point to go tour the Ninth Ward and Lakeview, and other places that haven’t yet come back. You’ve never seen anything like it.

DEF: You mean, like, dead bodies?

MPW: No, they took those away. I just mean, you can visit the Quarter and never realize that the majority of the city was destroyed. It won’t be fixed for years, maybe decades. So make sure you go look around, so you can bring the truth back to your people up North.

DEF: Absolutely. Brrrrrt diggity brrrt…

(Just kidding about that last part).

Michael Patrick Welch’s “132 Famous People I Have Met” series is FREE, but please consider donating to his VENMO (michael-welch-42), or to his PayPal account (paypal.me/michaelpatrickwelch2), so he can feed his kids, pay his mortgage, etc.

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