This evening, I thought I’d have a look at Derrick May’s background. Now, you might be expecting to find that he came from a really poor family and that he had to lie and steal his way to financial security – befitting of the Belleville Three myth perpetuated since the 1980s.
And as it happens, one half of this statement is correct. May comes from what we in Britain would call a middle-class family. They weren’t poor, but they weren’t sticking rich either. His mother, a lady by the name of Eleanor, is originally from New Jersey, but moved to Detroit in the 1960s for university – and she’s been there ever since.
She is a practising Jehovah’s Witness, along with her husband. Incidentally, her husband is not May’s biological father, but I understand that he treated May as one of his own. So, why am I telling you all this?
It’s because the parents with which May grew up, particularly his mother, are quite devout about their religion. Such is their right, of course. As much as religion is knocked these days, we mustn’t forget that it gives comfort and guidance to many in times of difficulty.
I wonder what they’d make of this video. It was taken in the very early days of the Detroit Movement Electronic Festival, as it was called between its inception in 2000 and 2002. Remember, he is speaking to a journalist sent there to cover the event.
And this is what he comes out with… (this video contains strong language)
I’ve spoken to enough Jehovah’s Witnesses in my time to know that they would find May’s reference to “f***ing [Detroit] in the ass” abhorrent. Indeed, even May appears to acknowledge he might have gone too far in this clip, quickly toning down the so-called joke.
Quite what they make of Derrick May these days, I have no idea…
Many thanks to Michael James for providing a high quality copy of this video.