Remember the scene from the movie, Life when Eddie Murphy’s character, Ray spends lights-out indulging his fellow prisoners in his dream of opening up his own New York nightclub, Ray’s Boom-Boom Room?
Everyone lies in bed imagining their role in the Boom-Boom Room as Ray verbally paints the picture. Their whimsy transports them away from their literal shackles – dancing, hugged up with women, smoking cigars, indulging in basic human delights that most of them would never be lucky enough to experience again.
I thought about that scene while watching legendary hip-hop DJ D-Nice on the wheels of steel during his “Homeschoolin’” Instagram live set this weekend. As the music played, his followers replicated the club experience in their imaginations during these self-isolation and social distancing times and typed it out in the chat feed.
“Meet me at the bar”
“We’re doing shots at 15K followers.”
“The bouncer at the door is being a pain.”
Since Instagram Live only allows video to run for an hour at a time, folks would hop right back in the new feeds accusing someone of kicking the DJ stand like Chill in House Party.
It was just the escapist experience we needed to forget, even for a moment, that we’re all being held hostage to a globe-ravaging pandemic.
D-Nice started “Homeschoolin’” in the middle of last week from his Los Angeles home, dubbed Club Quarantine. I caught wind of it Friday evening and found myself jamming to the latter part of a 7-plus-hour set on my phone before eventually zapping it to my Bluetooth speaker.
He got several thousand followers that Friday, but “Homeschoolin’” didn’t kick the door off the hinges until Saturday, the first weekend day that the country was truly shut down and most of us couldn’t glide into a club if we wanted to. Here in Chicago, our shelter-in-place order kicked in at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 21; he clocked more than 100,000 viewers a couple hours later.
Going into Sunday afternoon, D-Nice was rocking again, preparing to cross 150,000 viewers in under an hour. You knew someone who was in there. You work with someone who was there. You dated someone who was there.
Of course, “Homeschoolin’” caught attention for the number and magnitude of celebrities who popped in. Listing them all here would take all night, but no fewer than five of your faves were there at any point in time. From Diddy to Jennifer Lopez to Naomi Campbell to Jadakiss to Steph Curry to…everyone. The Peoples’ First Lady, Michelle Obama, popped in. Even Natalie f-----g Portman was in there.
Sen. Bernie Sanders and fellow Democratic presidential candidate former VP Joe Biden fell through, but I’m not all that sure why since neither of these septuagenarian white men likely even knows who D-Nice is, let alone care about the records he spins.
All in all, D-Nice had a good, black-ass time and was visibly star-struck at the celebrities who showed up was part of the charm of it all. He added records to the mix based on who popped in: When Mary J. Blige showed up, he played the classic hip-hop duet with Method Man’s “I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need to Get By.”
People weren’t just popping in because we had nowhere to be. Understand that D-Nice is a master-class DJ, and this global virtual party was a reminder to us all of that. He managed to keep us all dancing in our living rooms with a concise blend of hip-hop, R&B, funk and even a touch of Afrobeat. His mixing and transitions were top-notch. His setlist was banger after jam after hit; not too esoteric nor too Top-40-friendly, but I’d wager you probably had the most fun if you were born before 1985.
For us plebs, we reveled in the illusion of being able to interact in the chat feed with celebrities with whom we’d never have a chance to party with in the real world. The interface brought moguls like Oprah to the same level with the out-of-work bar-hand who is no longer sure how he or she will make rent on April 1.
Of course, D-Nice’s success has already resulted in numerous epigones attempting the same thing…while also advertising their CashApp handles. I’d wager he’s received some remuneration on the low just out of love, but that D-Nice hasn’t asked for a dime for his marathon DJ sessions adds to their appeal.
“Homeschoolin’” is more than a congregation of bored, trapped souls – it represents a paradigm shift. It shows what happens when every human being – regardless of age, gender, race or class – is forced to sit the f--- down for a spell and find unprecedented ways of coming together.
It’s also a way for celebrities who are beyond financially equipped to weather this economic cyclone to show grace to fans by entertaining them gratis, as dance legend Debbie Allen has done with her Instagram live dance class, and John Legend did with his Instagram live concert from his home.
America has yet to see how bad COVID-19 is going to hit us, and we’re only in the beginning of this national quarantine that will keep us away from each other for a while. If you still think this lockdown is going to last just a couple weeks, I have a bridge to sell you. It’s possible that D-Nice and his celebrity ilk might move the needle in making all of this more tolerable before they let us back outside.
As my man Panama put it, “If D-Nice did this every week, he might save the planet.”
What better thing to save the world than hip-hop?
Dustin J. Seibert is a native Detroiter living in Chicago. Miraculously, people have paid him to be aggressively light skinned via a computer keyboard for nearly two decades. He loves his own mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day only so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him at wafflecolored.com.
Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage