The four members of Chalkskin stood with Debra Plante and Stella Ingram in line at the LA Convention Center. They check in with the “America’s Got Talent Staff” and begin filling out the paperwork. Each does their best to tell their story to the faceless producers who are certain to read what they’ve written. They each relieve life’s journey that brought them to this moment, outline adversity and lifelong dreams. Then they took some time to describe who they were today, what Chalkskin stood for to them and what it could mean to America.
They were familiar with the convention center. They were just there two months before to sit on a panel for nerdcore at ComiKaze, and Dave and Jason were there several times for E3. In fact, Dave slipped into his MC Chalkskin Sweatsedo in the very bathroom stall he had noted a pair of fancy red and gold sneakers just a couple of years earlier. He had been sitting in the handicap stall, which faced the others. He saw the sneakers as they entered and thought to himself how cool they were. The man in that next stall seemed to look down, and he heard him comment a breathy and disappointed, “Aw man.” It wasn’t until Dave had washed his hands and headed out that his waiting friends informed him that the sneaker’s owner was none other than Snoop Dogg himself.
With what serendipity in mind, MC Chalkskin, DJ Pop’N’Fresh, J-Man, and Rich Prophet were ushered into a large meeting room with instructions on what they were expected to do. Without the aid of their music, they were to perform for 90 seconds A Capella. They had settled on “Pow Wow” due to the tight choreography they had for this performance. After they finished, the producers seemed excited. They were asked a lot of questions about who they each were, how they had met, what they thought of their act, etc. Then the producers asked them to perform another song. They broke into “Grape Drink (Purple Stuff),” which made the producers smile and bob their heads. They were whispering to each other excitedly.
Dave asked the producers if they’d like copies of “PayDay.” They exclaimed that they would love them, so all three were given a copy along with a photo of the group. That’s when the female producer asked them to perform “the stripper song.” “Perfect Song (For a Pole Dance)” really relies on the music, but the group did a decent rendition of the meaty part of the song.
Chalkskin took the opportunity to discuss how they aren’t a typical rap group. “We’re nerds,” they proclaimed proudly. “I think everyone is a nerd.” The two guys on the ends nodded their heads emphatically. The woman in the middle disagreed, but she was out numbered two to one.
That’s when they were asked to perform for another sets of producers, who would film their performance. They were ushered into another room, where they filled out even more paperwork. This paperwork seemed more like what you would fill out if you were a new hire with a new job. The production assistants here are beautiful young women who enthusiastically ask them to perform several songs just for them.
They had been instructed to perform “Grape Drink (Purple Stuff)” for these producers. Unsure of how long 90 seconds of the song would be, they were instructed just to perform until they were asked to stop. “Don’t be upset when they ask you to stop,” they were told. “They just want to see ninety seconds.” But they start and are never asked to stop. They perform the entire song, much much more than they anticipated.
Again, they were asked a lot of questions. The producers listened intently and seemed enthusiastic. MC Chalkskin told them why they chose “America’s Got Talent” as their platform for coming out to the world. “I’m a fan. I went to a taping the first season, and to be honest, I thought it wasn’t very good. But I’ve watched the show grow. This last year, I came back out of curiosity when Howard Stern was hired to judge. NBC is doing some amazing things! They’re changing television with what they did with the Olympics and this show. That soft focus cinematography and the narratives and the sheer scope of the live shows. It’s really great.
“And last season with Lindsey. She’s on that stage going, ‘I’m just so excited!'” MC Chalkskin did his best impression of the energetic and adorable seventeen year old dancer. “I’m a grown man, but it made me cry. I wanted to be on America’s stage saying, ‘I’m so excited!'”
The night was a triumph. Even if they were not asked to perform on air, they had accomplished something.Kariem drove home and took a well-earned rest after a full day of manual labor before heading to the audition. Dave, Jason, Rich, and Stella drove happily back to San Diego, cranking “PayDay” and singing along.