You're getting too old for this shit.
You swore that you wouldn't write another article like this. You were going to stop publishing stories where you do drugs at a music festival and hang out with famous people. You wanted to transition to a style that's more dignified. Your schtick is tired.
Then you go to Governors Ball and Makonnen gives you acid.
"Check back with me in about 30 minutes."
Your apprehensions melt away around the same time that the ground begins to. The concrete is swimming. Foliage is breathing. Everyday surroundings are Edvard Munch's brush strokes. Before you completely lose touch with reality, you make a note to mention Samsung in your piece, because they gave you these tickets, and the access is worth the shilling.
This chance encounter with Makonnen feels like a cosmic occurrence. You and your friends are obsessed with his music on a religious level. A few weeks ago, you all took acid and laid in the grass at McCarren Park listening to "Drink More Water 5 Freestyle" for hours.
Lyrics like "We be getting super fucking wild, doing shrooms and LSD" speak to you. Like Munch's masterwork, The Scream, Makonnen paints a picture of a lifestyle that you can identify with. You viewed Makonnen as a kindred spirit long before you officially met him. You rap one of his lines—"I'm tired as fuck, I just need some coke"—to him with enthusiasm.
"I hate talking about my drug usage like that."
But it's those idiosyncrasies that are why Makonnen's mythos grows with each passing day. A$AP Rocky wrote "L$D" after Makonnen gave him the hallucinogen at SXSW, pre-empting an orgy with nine women. "This nigga looked like Buddha with Jheri curl," Rocky said.
He's right. Makonnen moves like a young Siddhartha. This isn't your first rodeo with Lucy, but Makonnen has this calming presence about him that elevates the experience. There’s no possibility of a bad trip. "You're secretly 3000 years old, aren't you?" you ask.
"I be trying to tell 'em. I'm the motherfucking Red Dragon."
The Red Dragon is Makonnen's alter ego. It's funny. Rush Hour 2 was playing in your barbershop yesterday. You hadn't seen that movie since you were putting DVDs in your PlayStation 2. The climax of the film comes when Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan infiltrate a casino named Red Dragon. You don't put orchestrating this coincidence past Makonnen.
You talk to Makonnen about a recent concert of his that you attended. You were the person yelling "My friend Makonnen is teaching me how to whip it!" in between songs and starting mosh pits. "It was the show at Bowery Ballroom, when that dude got knocked out outside. You were standing right there," you say, hoping to jog his memory.
“I don't know nothing about that. I’m not with that violence shit.”
He's already told you that he feels like hate and competition between artists is a distraction, and now you're realizing that despite lyrics like "All my boys like 5'2", they come around and fuckin' have that AK on them too," he doesn't condone physical confrontation either.
What does Makonnen condone? If he really is this mythical oasis of knowledge and wisdom, what lesson would he like to impart to the masses?
"Drink more water. Stop drinking all these sugary ass sodas."
Drake shows up and the effects of the acid magnify the madness of the backstage circus. You've seen this exact scenario play out before, but LSD makes you even more perceptive to the swarm of thirst Drake must navigate any time he shows his face in public.
You and Makonnen play the cut. Drake is whisked away to a private area by his massive security team, leaving a trail of suitors in his path. "People are sharks," you say.
"They is. I'm the Red Dragon though. I'll burn this whole shit up. And they know that. That's why I stay so peaceful and quiet. I'm not trying to make a scene."
Makonnen's reluctance to be the center of attention is refreshing. He's tapped into a state of consciousness that typically doesn't accompany rap stardom.
"I feel like I should be spiritually advising motherfuckers. They don't listen. They don't believe in me like that. So it's like, 'Step back.' Maybe when I get older they'll Louis Farrakhan me like, 'Listen to that nigga.'"
One of the tropes of success, especially in hip-hop, is paranoia. You ask Makonnen if he feels like people want to take him out because he's so enlightened.
"Yeah, that's how it always is. So I just stay right here. Somebody gonna do it one day. I feel like I be walking and niggas just be wanting to stab me in the back. That's sad but I keep this positive energy around to give me at least a few steps. So I can react."
A random person sees you smoking and comes up begging for a cigarette. You've been in this position before, desperate for the temporary relief of nicotine. You bum him a smoke, thinking this will initiate a chain of karmic positive energy. Makonnen disagrees.
"That ain’t positive."
You argue that there's something inherently positive about giving this guy what he wants.
"It don't matter what the fuck the nigga want. It's the devil. It's cigarettes. It's something that's gon' fuck his lungs up. That might be the one that tomorrow he wake up like, 'Yeah, you got cancer now,' and what was positive about that?"
He has a point. You're learning that when it comes to matters of life, Makonnen always does.
Ernest Baker is a writer living in New York. Follow him on Twitter here.