By Joel Wass
“Man, who came up with that? Joel [Wass]? I’ll fucking camel-clutch that guy.” -Ryerson rapper Arabesque talking about the headline that appeared on the cover of the Oct. 8, 2003 edition of The Eyeopener.
A “camel clutch” is a submission manoeuvre formerly used by professional wrestling’s Iron Sheik and apparently the title of one of Ryerson rapper Arabesque’s old songs.
not sure what’s involved in a camel clutch, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be put in one. That said, I can see why Arabesque, aka Steve Kawalit, may want to lay the smackdown on me. Last year, I-along with another editor, who’ll remain nameless for safety’s sake-came up with the headline, “The Best Rapper in the World Who You’ve Never Heard of…Until Now” for a cover story about the aforementioned Mississauga hip-hop artist. There was extended debate about what the cover should say and I know I speak for all those involved when I say the decided upon headline was, in a word: Wack (Look, I know I’m too wack to use a word like ‘wack,’ but wack is what the headline was). I believe part of a student newspaper’s responsibility is to provide publicity to successful students, particularly to those thriving in an industry as cutthroat-and I don’t even mean in the literal sense-as hip-hop. However, the overzealous-to say the least-headline ended up doing more harm than good. “I didn’t wanna show up at school, man,” Arabesque told an Eyeopener reporter about the week he graced our cover. “A lot of people were telling me they were on the subway and someone was reading The Eyeopener. And all they [saw] was ‘Best Rapper in the World.’ They [didn’t] see the fine print. And people [were] looking over like, who is this? Rakim? LL Cool J?” I swear, Arabesque, at the time, this J thought the headline was cool. I was wrong. While I can’t change the past, I’ve been making a conscious effort to rely on truthful statements, rather than over-statements, to get people to pick up our paper this year. Last month, after receiving notice about the release of his new music video, I e-mailed Arabesque, telling him I was sorry for the wack (I swear that’s the last time I’ll use that word) headline and that The Eyeopener would love to report on the progression of his music career. I thought my apology was sufficient, but judging by the opening quote, it appears the young MC is still a little disgruntled. Here’s hoping this column will loosen the grip on his desire to camel-clutch me. Now I know it may seem like the only reason I’ve written all this is because I’m frightened by Arabesque’s threats. That’s not true! I’m also doing it to suck up to him because he’s been on MuchMusic. I figure I can become a groupie. Maybe the best groupie in the world even?