Good morning to everybody! I'm here, and I'm ready to go, man.
Are you gay?
I am not gay.
Every weekday, Calvin Lebrun—Wallop King, the Finisher, or as he's known to most of the New York City area and around the world, Mister Cee—rises around 10 A.M., thinking about radio. There is a calendar he keeps by his bed that's inscribed with anniversaries—March 9, the day his friend Christopher Wallace, the Notorious B.I.G., was murdered, or October 17, Eminem's birthday—and he consults it shortly after waking up. If the occasion warrants, he'll begin preparing one of the on-air tributes for which he is beloved. By noon he's on air.
There are slight variations to the routine. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights he does club gigs. Manhattan, New Jersey, Staten Island, wherever. “I'm a gypsy cab,” he says. Because his time in rap dates from his days DJing for Big Daddy Kane in the '80s, because he helped broker the deal that got Biggie Smalls signed, and because he's been a warm, boisterous presence at the world's most revered hip-hop radio station, New York's Hot 97, for going on two decades, he is extremely well connected. So occasionally, someone like Jay Z might hand him or his friend Funkmaster Flex, who does Hot 97's evening show, an exclusive premiere of a song, like 2009's “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune),” on which Jay shouted out the two of them: I made this just for Flex and / Mister Cee, I want people to feel threatened. That night, the two of them played the record over and over, gloating in the direction of most every other DJ in the city—“Take that big lemon-meringue pie in your face!”
And then there were the two days last year, one in May and one in September, when Mister Cee found himself in front of a microphone far earlier in the morning than usual, sitting across from his boss, Ebro Darden, the on air sign glowing red above them, searching for a radio-friendly synonym for the word fellatio. Searching for the appropriate term to describe a man who looks and dresses like a woman. Searching for a way to say he did, or did not, pay cash to engage in certain activities with that person. Searching for a way to say: Have I lied about getting sexual fellatio in a car with a transsexual? Yes, I have lied about that. Searching for a way to hold back tears, or to deceive, or to forestall judgment. And then searching for a way to let the tears come without shame or embarrassment, to tell the truth about who he is, even if it's not entirely clear—even to Mister Cee himself, even now, to this day—what exactly that truth is.