It’s been over a year since Lord Finesse threw his Roc Raida tribute show at SOBs, the second one overall in NYC. I’m not exactly sure why Finesse picked me to record video for this event. There were certainly people with more experience and better equipment than me. And for someone with Finesse’s credits, I’m sure he could’ve found one of these cats quite easily. I guess the reason really doesn’t matter. What mattered was that he asked me and I felt really grateful (and hella nervous) for the opportunity.

As expected, the show was amazing and I tried to capture everything I could. RIP Roc Raida. A week or two later, I met up with Finesse for a hot minute and gave him everything. I asked if I could put some of the footage up on our yout*be channel. He said only a few and I thanked him, said my peace and was out.

Sifting through all the footage, I had the sudden urge to call Finesse up and ask him the reasoning behind not wanting all the footage from the show out there. And I don’t mean on some accusatory-type steez but more of a discussion between one of my favorite artists and me, a Hip-Hop head. At that point in time, my whole stance was the more exposure an artist could get (whether through his own distribution channels or others), the increased likelihood of acquiring new fans and keeping in touch with older ones. I guess in my own naive way, little ole me was trying to keep some of my favorite artists alive. I was trying to tell everyone (or at least the handful who watched the videos) that Lord Finesse was still around and, heck yeah, dude can still rock a show like nobody’s business.

The majority of our conversation consisted of Finesse telling me about wanting complete control and creative input over the narration of his story. When things were ready, he wanted the world to know Lord Finesse through his eyes only. And I completely understood and respected his position. At the end of the day, it was his show, his footage and his decision over what to distribute and what to keep in the vaults for later use. I totally respected that. Not only in Finesse’s case but with any footage I record and every artist I have a chance to deal with.

But what about the other artists who never get a chance to tell their story? Who will remember their contributions fifty years down the road when the next few generations of Hip-Hop heads come into the world? Will their names eventually fade out over time and be relegated to unsubstantiated rumors and pass-downed stories? Is that how the pioneers of this culture should be remembered? Or am I completely off the mark by assuming that they even want to be remembered at all? And how do they feel about people like me? Do they wish people videotaping these shows consult with them first before posting anything? Do they look at these people and call them “culture vultures?” Do most of these artists even know the footage exists? Do they even care these videos are out there? Am I just over-thinking all of this? And why do I feel so damn responsible? Why do I even care about all the fans who can’t make it to the shows? If they couldn’t make it for whatever reason e.g. no access or no money, then it’s their loss right? They missed out on a dope performance so sucks for them? Why do I care about ’em, people I will never ever meet in my life? Am I just trying too hard? Should I just mind my own business and leave the real documenting to others? Am I sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong? Does what I do even matter in the long-run? Do people out there even care or notice?

A few weeks back, after a show at Irving Plaza, I was driving a Hip-Hop luminary home. This person made a comment about individuals who post video footage online, naively thinking they were somehow preserving the culture through the publication of these unauthorized videos. I dropped this person off and said my peace. On the drive back to the crib, I thought about that comment. Over the next few weeks, I’ve thought about that comment even more. And then I had an epiphany. That naive individual, the one who believes he can keep Hip-Hop alive through his videos, the one who is somehow “preserving” the culture for future generations to come? That’s me. And I’m not quite sure I believe it anymore.