Walking down a street. Forgot which one. The Brooklyn Bodega’s second “Show and Prove” had just ended and I had left with a group of friends and we had bar hopped our way around the area. Somehow myself and a companion ended up walking down a street leading to somewhere…don’t they all?
When I saw a familiar face! I wasn’t sure it was him but I had a hunch. I said “excuse me sir? Did I see you in The New York Post? You’re the story-teller yes? May I please take a picture with you?” He obliged and did not ask for a dollar or two as most NYC street “icons” do. As I dragged my friend back down the block to take a picture I explained who this man was. “Hes the story teller..the man who is taking spoken word and the dozens to a whole other level.” At that point we had reached the man who I found out was named T. Berry.. As I gushed and fawned and told him how happy and honored I was to meet him, he began his story.
He tells stories. Not the stories you would hear at bedtime or the stories of your past. He tells stories of hot nights in the south when Grandmas and Uncles would get drunk on moonshine and start rippin’ on each other in the most poetic way.
The first thing Mr. Berry did was ask if he could tell a famous 60 second story. Both my companion and I were all in at this point and said sure. The story was at the fast pace that many rappers of today use in their art.
Mr. Berry told his story so close to us while rocking back and forth in his signature way that I a woman of 2011 could not help to blush at the content. While I hid my head and laughed at the raunchy story we were being told, my companion who is a great lyricist in his own right recognized the art of this mans talent. I could see in his eyes a, dare is say it, a “Wow moment” As Mr. Berry finished his story and asked if we timed him. We both said we did not care if it was over and under. Just that it is an art that needs to be preserved.
While I will save the back story for the NY POST. The “front story” is that we that night came across a dying art and a very special man who did not even realize he was keeping it alive until we told him how valuable it is. The rest of the convo was private and may be revealed further one day, but for now I just have to smile and hold the memory of the lunch box that opened as my awed companion put a hefty tip in. While we walked away knowing it was never going to pay for that 30 minutes with “The Greatest story-teller in the world”