Casey Golden, friend, music collaborator

Ike was a fireball shot from a rocket inside a jet, traveling at the speed of sound.

I met Ike in 2002. I was working on a buddy’s (Noah B- twisted linguistics) album and he brought Ike over to the the crib. My first thought was, why is this guy over my shoulder being so loud in my already cramped kitchen-apartment studio. My next thought was damn this record we are making together is kind of fire!

I had seen Ike around various Hiphop and Reggae related shows in Minneapolis for a few years and knew him as the loud white guy with big red dreads always laughing and grooving his way through the crowds at the Red Sea or the 400 bar. What I had come to learn in that first session in my small apartment was Ike was a hurricane. Ideas poured from him and I scrambled to move as quickly as possible in an attempt to get it all down in the MPC or protools or whatever I was using at the time.

After that first record we did together for Twisted Linguistics, Ike and I kept in touch as our music careers blossomed. He would sit in on sessions of mine at Master Mix with some of the BEP guys, who would inevitably be like “who is this guy”? The one who knew no fear or intimidation when it came to communicating what he was hearing on a record in a room full of grammy winners. Something it took me forever to learn how to do in the face of successful artists. Ike was also playing in a million bands of every genre but even so, I had Ike playing bass on my records whenever I could (although he always wanted to sing harmony or add some random instrument he just inherited or picked up).

Fast forward another few years and I was touring to support my album. I started putting together a band and the first call I made was to Ike. I asked if he would MD the band and help me put it together. So along with Ike, we swooped KG from out of bounds and auditioned a few drummers, landing on the one (Chris Wade) Ike thought could handle the music without turning it into jam-bandy hiphop mush. Ike knew every part of every record on my album and would loudly chime in when things weren’t played right. “Bah Bah boop blam”, he would sing over in direction to Keith. “Bap, Bap, Rump a bah da bump”, he would instruct Chris. Dude was serious when it came to learning the music and making sure everyone was on the same page.

We traveled across the Midwest, 5 deep in a van. We played live studio performances for booking agents and record execs. We played with neo soul legends and as Ike would let me know later, we also played with one of his personal legends in Boulder CO, (Victor Wooten). Once we played a halloween show in Madison where Ikey played flawless bass in a hazmat suite. As soon as the show was over, I noticed how drunk he was, which was crazy to me because two minutes earlier was was in the groove and focused, never missing a note. I think he threw a pizza at the wall in our hotel room and dawned the nick name “Light Switch” because he went from 0 to Out of Control, pizza tossing in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Like someone flipped a light switch on.

Eventually the time came for our biggest tour and as we were gearing up, Ike let me know that he wouldn’t be able to do it. Ike was having his first child, although he was already helping to raise a daughter with his wife, this was his first baby. I, being the selfish asshole I was, couldn’t understand why that meant he couldn’t come on tour. I tried hard to convince him that we could make it work, but Ike’s world had fundamentally shifted and there was nothing that would keep him from being a present father.

As my performing career slowly dwindled and shifted focus to producing and mixing after the birth of my children, I remember telling Ike I was sorry for pressuring him to keep playing. I finally understood what I didn’t many years earlier. His life was about his children and his family and the same passion and fire he brought to the music, he brought to them. We would link at the library in Roseville for kid hangouts. He would play me the recordings he made of Sebastian and Oliver. The recordings he made with Sebastian and Oliver. The recordings he made for his family. The Christmas albums he wrote or tell me about the song concepts for the traveling children’s band he was starting. He would laugh loudly at something Seba did or exuberantly explain why cloth diapers were amazing as I gave him shit about dressing Oliver in burlap, to which he would curse at me with a smile so big you could feel his love through it. He was so proud of his family. He was proud of Madeline and Amari and Seba and Oliver.

Over the years, as friends often do, we drifted apart, with family, life, work and whatever else occupied us. We would randomly hit one another up. Me to ask about playing a bass line or Ike, to ask if I was down to start an old guy hip hop group! Ike was the kind of friend that you could not see for 2 years and when you reconnected you felt immediately comfortable knowing that the love was always there, like nothing had changed.

As I built my studio, the one constant I could count on was Ike to lay down a great baseline for me. Over the past 3 years, as the world fell a part and the Southside went up in flames, I knew Ike’s heart had been broken. I knew he was searching for the meaning and love he had so freely and generously given to so many of us over the years. I would try and have him play bass on records just to connect, just let him know that I was still here for him. He would ask that I send Madeline the money so she could know that he was doing good and working. He would ask that I snap some pictures so he could show his kids, so they could be as proud of him as he was of them. We would talk about his son’s basketball or his daughter’s life as an adult and how weird that was but I also knew that he was in a bad place and enjoyed seeing that melt away as we focused on the pocket of whatever record we were working on.

He called me March 6th in the morning. I remember I was in the studio early that day for a session so I could leave early to make my son’s school all star game. He called from a number I didn’t recognize, but he sounded great.. better than he had in a while. I quickly cut off one of his stories so I could focus on work and told him I would call him back. But after a long day of work and night of basketball, I forgot to do so. Work on Tuesday, a late night of workshops on Wed and by Thursday I had lost track of what number Ike called from. I thought he would call back to grab his marimba he left at my studio. He never did. I wish I had stayed on the phone that day.

I think Ike burned so bright that he could only be with us for a short amount of time. I think the mark he left on the world was so indelibly vivid that it couldn’t have lasted any longer. I wish that wasn’t true. When he walked in a room, he owned the place. He was larger than life. He was chaos and love and laughter and friendship and a father and husband and music and pain and joy…and he was all of those things brilliantly. I know he is on the next plane of existence making his presence felt just as profoundly as he did here. I’m gonna miss you bud.