POEM: Vybin’ - My back catalogue, warts and all

Updated: May 5

Words by Sean Stapleton


A goofy little numbskull, blonde and pale, Fringe cut to my hairline, a monstrous fail, Experiment with scissors on your bonce detail and end up skinny, bald and white like a frosty nail, Even if the haircut was embossed in braille, Nobody could feel it man, the loss prevails So this was my vibe, a strange little bugger, Personality was forming, enraging my mother with non-stop whining, questions for Sandy, ‘Why does Joe get the Beano and I get the Dandy?!’ School hols they were great, I remember the six weeks when music first found me, a rhythmless pipsqueak Like most little shitlings, I learnt hits from my sibling, And I don’t just mean wallops, but the bits we were listening to, admission into Club Tropicana, Like Georgie Boy himself, think I worried my father, Bouncing round wild, what a roaring palaver, And taking the roof off like a scorching lasagne, Contorting ourselves, with no portions of lager, Just young and carefree in our awkwardness armour We’d go hoarse with Nirvana, too young for the angst, Just loved the loud noises and swearing, so thanks for blistering drums, gave my poor Mum a headache and made sure my sis wasn’t born for a decade T’was back in the day, so singles, you’d buy them, And mp3 files weren’t on the horizon, I’d learn to despise them, irrational maybe, But tangible products have always enslaved me, Give me books over Kindles, DVDs over streaming, Circles of wax, pristine in a sleeve and well thought out artwork, insight to the vision, Like blue stonewash denim, or light through a prism My first ever single established credentials, ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’, bad-boy essentials, Dangerous Minds, strife of the Pfeiffer, The first taste of hip-hop, and now I’m a lifer but followed it up with a vice, less gritty, ‘2 become 1’ by the Spice Girl committee, A sucker for love songs, but also a sceptic and ever since then, I’ve kept it eclectic Our parents had taste, osmosis occurred, Dad would play Prince and my focus, it blurred, Sign O’ The Times reached inside of my mind, With the funkiest bass and the tightest of rhymes, And all the Led Zeppelins, howling and haunting, Possessed by Beelzebub, prowling and taunting, Mama was more of a Motown admirer, She liked to be moved, feel the vocals inside her, Disco developed, a joyous stampede of Womack and Womack and teardrops indeed, My soul, it was nurtured through careful devotion and unfiltered elation, despair and emotion There’s one compilation deserving attention, One of Joe’s presents, it’s worthy of mention, A yellow CD, ‘Vybin’’s the title, With a kid on the front with the brightest of smiles, A new-soul compilation, but genre meant nothing, For a 9-year-old kid that was on Jimmy Ruffin it couldn’t be better, just burning with tracks, The first song exploded, ‘Return of the Mack‘, Followed by Luniz, drug references hiding, I wondered why they were so keen on high fiving, Then a story I thought was based on the nautical, About a young rascal called Jason Waterfalls, A sorta-cool kid, a lamentable crowd, And I think in the end he eventually drowned You know that one artist where everything changes? Along came Slim Shady, unpleasant, outrageous but funny as fuck and so lyrical, dropping a whirlwind of bars, just syllable hopping and making words count, every line I’m impressed, While showing that white boys could rhyme with the best, 11 years young, so the timing was fun, Put up middle fingers and hide from your Mum, And it seemed so much more than just lyrical poison, Cos the more critics tried it, the more he destroyed them A whole other culture, no Brit Pop or Verve, A gateway artist, a hip-hop hors d’oeuvre, That suited me perfectly, poetic bars that led me to Dre and eventually Nas, My teens were gobbled by MTV Base, Where R and B vids were the sleaziest place, Crazy in Love was a sexual awakening, Christina was grinding, those moves were disabling, Sat in the living room, no game at all, Can’t move a muscle, the same as J Cole, Trapped in the classroom, under his desk, With our eyes transfixed on a thunderous breast I succumbed to the sesh, enslaved by the slosh, Having headed to Manny, they gave me some dosh, And let me loose in a city that gobbles you whole, Where music just grabs you and wobbles your soul, And club nights and DJs play life-changing belters, Rave’s under viaducts, air raid shelters and speakers are stacked, organizers get nicked But the party was packed so it’s worth the conviction or losing their gear or just paying a fine, Where they’ve put in the work, dedicated the time, And the night is worth more than a slap on the arse cos they’ve built something real they might never surpass, And that’s the consensus, city-pervasive, Joy at all costs? That seems pretty persuasive, Blokes in their forties with kiddies in spaceships, Dancing with Mum, getting flipping outrageous This one's for the listeners, at home introverting, Strapped into Spotify putting the work in, Or making a beat for hours on end cos they’re stuck in a loop they’ve no power to mend, The ones that recorded a mix for their mates, Dodging presenters, the tricks of the tape, Spent wages on wax for that thrill when it drops, And putting on raves in the buildings with cops that are one step behind cos this joy can’t be stifled, By bobbies or rules or some rot in the drywall To the widowers sat in their digs playing vinyl, Remembering gigs, with a cig and a smile, Where they wooed and they swayed and left hand in hand, Where a song means much more than a tune and a band, But a wife and a life and a bygone heyday, A kiss in a field and the feeling that gave, Life they were living, a dream that they craved, That they utterly miss but will keep to the grave To the folks that are only themselves in the darkness, of welcoming dancefloors surrounded by partners, Lacked confidence but then found it regardless, Just sweating their week out in pounding catharsis, To the old soul boys out there, playing in bars, To no-one at all, with a couple of jars, And someone comes up and asks what a track is, And they smile and think ‘this lad knows what the craic is’ Please keep on going, remain this infectious, Don’t give it up, maintain it, be reckless, Just groove in the mirror, grab the trilby and leathers, And refuse to ever feel guilty for pleasures, Let music curate the emotions inside of us, For it’s more than a mate, it’s a vocal psychiatrist

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