Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 12.53.11 PMI don’t have a writing partner.

Every now and then, someone will come forward with an idea for a literary duet. You know—”I’ll do the reporting, you do the writing” or something along those lines. Yet dating back to my SI days, I’ve always thought of myself as a solo operator. My last shared byline came, oh, 18 years ago, at The Tennessean, and it wasn’t by choice. I hate the thought of working collaboratively on a book. I’m set in my ways, I love reporting and writing, blah … blah … blah.

That being said, I do have a guy who, through the years, has emerged as a serendipitous creative partner. I first met Aaron Handelman eight or nine years ago, at a party hosted by our neighbors. He was the guy’s brother in law, and we started talking about Public Enemy and Tribe and all things hip-hop. He told me he was an MC, and I probably rolled my eyes. Then I heard his work.

Through geography and musical kinship, Aaron (aka MC White Owl) and I have maintained a close friendship. He’s a fantastic guy with insane skills. To this day, I consider him one of the best MCs out there—sharp, quick, smart, on point. You can hear much of his work here. Then, three years ago, I asked if he’d consider writing a theme for Sweetness. I remember the call. I was standing in a Starbucks. Halfway through my opening words he said, “Absolutely!” The resulting tune is awesome. Beyond awesome.

I digress. Tomorrow afternoon, the Owl returns to the studio to record Showtime, yet another jam to accompany a Pearlman book. We’ve been going back and forth for the past several weeks, exchanging ideas, words, etc. It’s a treat to watch someone this talented doing his thing.

As badly as I want my stuff to sell, I equally hope people listen to—and appreciate—a true hip-hop artist at the top of his game.