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Recap of Ricky Powell's Slide Show at The Good Life


Anyone who saw the Raising Hell tour is automatically cooler than those of us who didn’t. That makes Ricky Powell – who was backstage for that entire stretch, as well as on dozens of other seminal hip-hop outings – the coolest dude since Wilt Chamberlain.

In his career as a photographer, muse and all-around king scenester, Powell has witnessed things that most heads have barely dared to dream. He’s drunken diet root beer with Rick Rubin, hung with Run-DMC in Paris (“We shit on French people a lot, but I didn’t meet any jerk-offs out there”), and obsessed over Sophia Coppola (whose dad, Powell jokes, was on his dick).  

For nearly an hour at the Good Life last night, Powell blessed a roomful of throwback fanatics with his legendary slide show. He’s the best kind of unabashed insider – every pic came with the sort of vignette or anecdote that you never get from rappers themselves.

Powell has a unique sense of humor, often-starting sentences with lines like: “When I was selling frozen lemonade back in ’86.” In the midst of feeding frenzies in which artists often take themselves too seriously, Powell was the grounded, self-deprecating dude who tagged along.

As the slides clicked, out poured his tag lines: “Have a nectarine and chill,” “I was a scrub,” and “The blacks know I’m down.” Powell has a crack for everything, from shooting hoops with Run-DMC (“Run was a chucker”) to his unsuccessful graf career (“I wrote Pumpernickel 188”).

The laughs rolled through the end, with Powell flashing flicks of Ricki Lake (“She had a fat pussy”), John Lee Hooker (“He used to fuck mad hippie ladies”), and Diamond D (“He used my bathroom once”).  

My favorite shot was of a sexy 80s chick in a leotard stretching on the street in New York City. Her left leg is up above her head, and Powell zoomed in on her crotch. It’s a sweet metaphor for his life – right place, right time.

Near the end of his show, Powell commented that he’s always been a legend in his own apartment. That might be true, but anyone who’s mashed hoes with the Beastie Boys and hung with Jean-Michel Basquiat is a hero of mine too.

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