The SPB Q: Toure

Quote of the Day: “See me walking around, I’m the boy about town that you’ve heard of…” — “Boy About Town” by The Jam


The first time I met Toure, in the summer of 1992, he was sitting on a couch in the lobby of VIBE magazine, waiting to meet with me. With, I believe, no appointment. The kid had balls. He’d already contacted me at SPIN magazine the year before, telling me that he liked the work I was doing there, but we’d never met. Just out of school, arriving in NYC like so many other wannabes before him, he pounded the pavement, did what he had to do and made it happen, developing into a vivid and intelligent writer of both journalism and fiction (Check out The Portable Promised Land, a sublime collection of short stories; his most recent book is Never Drank the Kool-Aid: Essays) Over the years he transformed himself in a funny, quotable TV pundit and host—he’s one of the rare writers who’s talking voice (and articulation of ideas with it) is as interesting as his written one. I remember a friend of mine used to tease me (and indirectly, Toure) because I  was friends with (and a proto-mentor to) a one-named guy—“Who does he think he is, Madonna? Jesus? You got two last names, Scott, you should give him one of yours!”—but I’m still friends with Toure, and barely speak to the other guy, who had the requisite first and last names, and still couldn’t pull it together enough to make his writing life happen the way Toure did. That other kat’s now back in his hometown writing me bitter letters of regret about all the bridges he burned in New York back in the day. And Toure’s a one-named success story, doing his thing…(That VIBE couch was an interesting place to chill that summer; another brotha hung out there, also telling us how large he was eventually gonna be: his name was Maxwell…)

Name: Toure

Hometown: Randolph, Massachussetts

Zodiac sign: Pisces

Favorite book: Lolita

Favorite author: Nabokov

Favorite movie: The Godfather: Part II

Favorite old school hiphop song: “Eric B Is President” by Eric B. and Rakim

Favorite recent rap record: “Swagger Like Us” by T.I., Jay-Z, Lil Wayne & Kanye

Favorite video: I can’t think of one that ever rose to the level of favorite. Was the genre ever that good? If it was that was years ago. Videos are over. They were once so important to an artist’s conversation with fans but no more.

Best Live Show You’ve Seen: Prince, several times.

Favorite word: Zeitgeist.

Biggest influence as an thinker: Cornel West because he gave me the vision of how to be a cool, modern black intellectual.

Career High: So many. Playing poker with Jay-Z and winning thousands… Playing basketball with Prince… Playing tennis with Jennifer Capriati… Getting R. Kelly to admit to liking teenage girls.

Life High: Every day with my baby is amazing. I can’t say his birth is the highest point because every day he grows and changes and it’s thrilling.

You’re on a desert island and can only save 5 CDs. What are they?:

Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder
American Gangster by Jay-Z
Louis Armstrong Plays WC Handy
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood by Nina Simone
Paid in Full by Eric B and Rakim

Your favorite quote: “Always try and do too much. Dispense with safety nets. Take a deep breath before talking. Aim for the stars. Keep grinning. Be bloody-minded. Argue with the world.” — Salman Rushdie

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