AARON TREMBLE, BKA “BIG A.T.”
I hear my breathing. It’s loud, hard, and fast. I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I have to go through with it. I’ve summoned every entertainment reporter and photographer to the Ritz-Carlton this morning for a news conference. Hell, every media outlet across the country received the press release.
The media generally doesn’t send out reporters to cover breaking news stories related to the music industry, let alone Hip Hop. But when I called, it was something they knew they couldn’t miss.
Who am I?
I’m Big A.T., government name Aaron Tremble.
I have a record label, clothing line, real estate properties, and television and film deals. And oh yeah, I just signed a licensing agreement with a liquor company to use my name and image.
It’s been documented in every notable magazine from People to Newsweek: “Big A.T. is the entertainment industry. He is Hip Hop.”
It’s even been stated, if I am quoting accurately, “He’s suave. Debonair. Charming. Enticing.”
I’m not one to toot my own horn, but like my man Kanye West put it in his song “Stronger,” “Bow in the presence of greatness.”
I’m a mover and shaker. Moves aren’t made without me. I am invincible. A power player. Superman. And, I’m a winner.
I make everyone around me feel like a champion, and that can’t be bought anywhere.
Yet, right now, I’m not feeling like a winner. As a matter of fact, I am feeling like shit, pure shit.
As much as I may want to think I’m Superman, what I’m dealing with is my kryptonite. ’Bout to kill my career … might as well kill me.
I’ve been pacing back and forth for over an hour in my thirty-second-floor Ritz-Carlton presidential suite. The sun is trying to pierce through the drawn curtains, fighting to be revealed. My freshly manicured fingers fidget with my diamond-encrusted Rolex watch.
In the room with me is Kenya, the head of A&R of my record label, and my publicist, Tracey Chambers.
Tracey is the publicist for almost every major celebrity in Hip Hop. She is a smooth bitch. Tracey is petite with a plump ass. Her tiny body carries attitude and confidence that makes her seem larger than life. With a few nip-and-tuck jobs here and there, Tracey looks like a black Barbie doll. So beautiful she can make a brother lose his religion and forget he ever had one.
Other industry insiders, including myself, often wonder if she has her own agenda of being a celebrity.
Tracey is good. No. She is phenomenal. She can turn a guntoting, drug-dealing, pistol-whipping, hard-core thug into a charity-giving, save-the-children, the-black-church-needs-you, the-community-loves-you superstar.
Tracey helped to convert Big Bad Mamma, a hard-core ghetto-pimping rapper, into a primped princess darling. Once Big Bad Mama’s image changed, she landed movie roles starring opposite of some of Hollywood’s biggest names. She even got nominated for a few awards.
Tracey now has a daunting task ahead of her. The news I am about to break will create one of the most challenging moments of her career. Tracey is tough. Not afraid to break new ground. But, this is going to put her spin-doctor skills to the test.
My feet are not keeping up with my racing heart. Everything feels like it’s in slow motion. I pace from the bathroom to the window, from the window to the living room and back to the bathroom. Kenya and Tracey are sitting quietly on the doubleseated red leather sofa. Every now and then they check and respond to their ringing BlackBerrys.
Everyone in the entertainment industry is calling or sending text messages to get the scoop. The entire music industry is waiting to hear the news.
As I make my way back to the living room, I stop. I run my hands across my fresh-shaven face. I gaze at my Rolex, studying the time. I am lost in a daze … lost in the sweeping movements of the seconds that turn into minutes.
I turn toward Kenya. “Baby girl, this is it. It’s ride-or-die time. You got my back?”
Her innocent black doe eyes gaze at me. Her nose crinkles as her pouty lips curve up into a smile. Her deep-set dimples indent her smooth brown cheeks. “I got your back,” she says and smiles.
“Tracey.” I glance at her. “I’m trusting in you to handle this with all you got. So, work your magic.”
Tracey leans forward. Takes her right hand sporting the three-quarter diamond ring and tosses her long weaved black locks behind her back. “I got this,” she says.
I look at my Rolex, again. I say to no one in particular, “It’s showtime.”
We make our way to the elevator down the hall. I let out a deep sigh when the doors open on the first floor.
I step out and look left. I see a short dark-skin man with gleaming white teeth. “Welcome to New York City. The place where your dreams can come true and celebrities are made,” he says into the camera. “This is Scott Jaredson with City Access and we have a huge breaking story about to take place right here in the heart of the entertainment capital. It’s an exclusive announcement and everyone’s on edge waiting to hear what top music executive Big A.T. has to say.”
My heart starts its rapid pace again. Thumping. I walk faster, trying to keep up with the beats.
As we move toward the conference room I see my reflection in the mirror next to the big gold doors. I give myself a once-over. My dark skin is glowing. My hair is shaped and lined up by my man, T-Money, the best barber in New York City. My slim six-foot frame looks impeccable in my own clothing line, A.T. Wares.
I run my fingers across my black cashmere blazer and smooth out the sleeves. I brush my shoulders. I snap the collars on my crisp white button-down oxford shirt. And then, we enter the frenzied room of awaiting photographers and journalists.
I cross over to the podium and adjust the microphone. The photographers’ flashes are nonstop. I squint, adjusting to the glaring lights.
I reach inside my blazer’s left pocket. I fumble with the piece of paper that is my scripted speech. I am scared. Scared shitless. I am about to do what no man in Hip Hop has ever done. Rattle the cages. Deliver a punch like Joe Louis. Hip Hop is about to be knocked out with a sucker punch in the first round.
I begin to perspire. My palms are sweaty. My mouth is dry. I need water.
I attempt to look out into the audience, but the flashes are unbearable. I put my head down and take a few deep breaths.
You can do this, I say to myself. You got to do this.
The room falls eerily silent. Then someone breaks the air. “What’s this about Big A.T.?” I don’t respond. I wipe my dry mouth with my hand. I lick my lips to moisten them. I glance toward Kenya. She smiles at me with those beautiful soft eyes and nods her head.
I look at Tracey standing next to Kenya. She is cradling her cell phone between her shoulder and ear. She is rummaging through the big Chanel bag dangling from her wrist.
What the fuck am I doing here? I am not supposed to be here. This shit is crazy. I stare at everyone. I need some water. Can’t they see I need some damn water!
My knees begin to buckle. My body starts to shake. My hands tremble.
I take another deep breath and begin. “Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I wish to thank you for taking the time to come out today.” I swallow hard. “Some of you have known me since I was in diapers, and some of you have changed them.” I laugh, trying to lighten the tense mood of the room as well as shake my own nervousness.
A few chuckles infiltrate the room.
“I first would like to say ‘Thank you very much,’ as some of you have followed my career and have treated me favorably in the press. I am here today because something has me in turmoil with myself, family, and fans.”
I take another deep breath.
“I am a very loyal person, as many of you know. I am extremely loyal to the fans of Hip Hop and in their interest in hearing good music and having good role models.”
I see a few journalists scribbling on their pads. Others are sitting on the edge of their seats, hanging on every word.
Perspiration forms on my head. It is a cold sweat. I reach for my handkerchief in the front lapel of my jacket to dab my forehead.
I need some water. I really need some water.
“Can someone please get me some water?” I blurt.
Kenya rushes over to the two tables on the side of the room, where an assortment of fruits, bagels, and beverages are provided for the press as a complimentary breakfast. She grabs a bottle of water and races to the podium.
I start to have second thoughts. I feel I am making a big mistake. What the fuck am I doing? Am I really ready for this? The thoughts race in my head. I wish this was a dream. I need to stay King of New York. I can’t throw it all away.
My sweaty hands grip the podium. Kenya thrusts the bottle of cold water in front of me. I snatch it from her.
“Thank you.” I take a big gulp.
My legs feel as if they can no longer sustain me.
“Are you okay?” Kenya leans in and whispers.
My fingers are trembling. I close my eyes and whisper, “I’m fine.”
I take a deep breath and start again.
“As I was saying … it is with good intentions and with much love to my family, friends, fans, and the music industry that I announce …”
My eyes roll into the back of my head.
My body goes limp.
I fall backwards onto the floor.
I hear people in the room scream. Someone yells, “Oh my God!” Footsteps are scrambling near me. I am fading in and out of consciousness. A few journalists rush to the podium.
Kenya kneels next to me and frantically starts fanning me with her hands. My eyes are fluttering. I turn my head from left to right.
I see Tracey, my publicist extraordinaire, fling her Chanel bag over her shoulder and rush her tiny frame toward me. “Someone call an ambulance!” she screams. Tracey pushes her long black mane from her face. “And for God’s sake, stop taking pictures,” she orders and shoos at the photographers standing over me.
© 2011 Terrance Dean
After the sudden death of his father, a renowned jazz musician, Aaron “Big A.T.” Tremble clings to music as an escape. Making hip hop beats becomes his life. His love for music lands him at the estate of Larry “Pop” Singleton, a retired and respected Hip Hop music mogul who sees something special in Big A.T., and he also knows the truth about his sexuality. With Pop’s blessings and nurturing, Big A.T. is on the path to becoming the next great Hip Hop producer in New York.
With the help of Pop and “the family,” a network of secretly gay men in the Hip Hop world, Big A.T. finds success and starts his own music label. He’s signed and worked with some of the biggest Hip Hop artists in the country. One of them is Brooklyn native lyricist, “Tickman.” Together they are making sweet music together. Tickman and Big A.T.’s relationship goes beyond producer and rapper – they become secret lovers.
Nothing can stop Big A.T. All of the radio stations play his music. He has money, fame, and Jasmine, his girlfriend who doesn’t know about his secret love for men. However, at the pinnacle of his career, compromising photos of Big A.T. land on the desk of a national news program—and in the hands of his girlfriend. Big A.T., for the first time is at a crossroad in his career: come out publicly with his secret or watch his music empire crumble.
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