I used to think I looked like Maseo from De La Soul (top, left, upside down). This meant I had underground credibility. I used to purposefully tell people I looked like Maseo from De La Soul. Because I had underground credibility. Because it was preferable to saying a Bollywood star that no one knew, or a Lidl Peter Andre. People didn’t appreciate that as a brown boy with lightskin, chances are, my lookalikes weren’t too well-known. If they existed at all. We lived in this enclave of suburbia where you had to look like someone else and sound like someone else and be the potential to be someone else. So I went for the wilfully obscure, the wilfully cool and the wilfully nothing like my school friends. I remember one of my colleagues aligning himself with a likeness of Robbie Williams, another saying he was like Ralph Macchio. I said I looked like Maseo. This was 1990, after all. They would say, ‘Who?’ and I would go ‘Three, that’s the magic number,’ and they would nod, not really sure who I meant, but nodding at the recognition of the song.
Maseo and I both filled out. Neither of us look like that cover of 3 feet high and rising anymore. We both went wide-ways and I certainly don’t look like a black’n’white photo of him 20 odd years ago anymore. But I look at that album everyday (the record features prominently on a shelf in my study) and I think, a lot has passed in the last 20 years. A lot. It represents to me who I was and who I’ve become. Three feet high and rising.