Unexpectedly, the Hip Hop Live Tour is a tour featuring live hip hop music. The concept is that a bunch of acts performed backed the band Rhythm Roots All Stars. (I believe they did the same thing with Rakim and Ghostface last year.) I went into it with lowered expectations, assuming the band would sound like The Roots circa 1994, because they have the word Roots in their name and because pretty much every hip hop band in the universe sounds like The Roots circa 1994. But they proved to be pretty adaptable for rappers to rap to. And rap they did. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Concert Reviews’ Category
Wise Intelligent++ @ We Care Concert 9:30 Club, DC 3/19/08
Prior to this week I hadn’t been to the 9:30 Club in about three years. (Then again, I hardly ever leave the house.) But they actually managed to put on two interesting rap shows in a matter of three nights. The first being Sunday’s Wale show, which I wrote about over at XXL and then last nights We Care Concert, host to the most schizophrenic lineup in the history of rap – Saigon, Mia X, Wise Intelligent, Mambo Sauce, and about a half dozen other folks. Amnesty International and an organization called The Hip Hop Caucus, to protest the five year anniversary of the war in Iraq and support the victims of Katrina. These sort of cause-concerts tend to set off a red flag that it’s going to be a tedious and preachy show and not a lot of rapping is going to happen. But shit DC, Jersey, New Orleans on the same bill? It’s like this website in rap show form.
I may be a little biased, but Wise Intelligent knows how to rock a crowd. Period. It’s not often you get to see a truly great rap performer. My heart sunk a little when his “Rock This Funky Joint” call and response was met with crickets. And uh… me. But whatever, it was a young/indifferent crowd and he won them over with his crack rap acappellas. The crack rap that indicts the government, not crack rap that we usually talk about here.
Mia X’s song selection was sort of dissapointing, mostly sticking to her more mellow hits. Early on she seemed to be trying to win over the old heads in the crowd by rocking the Gap Band flipping “Watcha Want To Do” and Ghetto Twinz’s Betty Wright semi-cover “No Pain No Gain.” And she had some success with that approach. After that her set really got interesting, as she just started talking earnestly about what happened to her family in Katrina – how her uncle was mummified under a couch, how her nephews were clowned when they moved to other cities, etc etc. I’ve always been a fan of her music, but goddammit is she a compelling speaker. A room full of people who fancy themselves public speakers were basically put to shame by a rapper who, ten years ago, would’ve been laughed off the bill based on her label affiliations alone. She really stole the show and I’d be lying if I didn’t say she had me a little choked up. She also performed “My Fema People,” her post-Katrina bounce anthem, which is a raw track to hear live. I know they were filming the whole thing, hopefully some of her set will show up on youtube because I don’t think my summary really does it justice.
I’m still not sold on Saigon’s recorded music, but I have to admit that dude put on a pretty solid performance. He’s a really a high energy live rapper which is totally not what I would’ve expected from a mixtape cat. His hype man couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Mambo cranked as well. I had unfairly written them off as being sappy/poppy go-go based on their singles, but it turns out they’re actually a hard ass band.
My only complaint is the three hours it took to get to the four headliners. I am sure every person who wandered on stage to talk about their cause’s heart was in the right place, but you just lost your audience by reading an essay. You don’t win friends with salad. It’s unfortunate, because at the beginning the place was packed with a lot of young heads, presumably there for Mambo, but as time went on you just watched the crowd get thinner and thinner. Even the most forward thinking youth don’t want to sit through five hours of preachy rappers and even preachier activists. When you put concert on the flier, do not have speakers and videos. Save that for the rally. Wise & Mia better articulated their political agendas than any of the speakers and did so in an engaging manner. Only problem was many people who would’ve benefited from hearing them had since filed out an hour earlier.
I got a free T-shirt that says “Make Hip Hop Not War.”
More commentary and tiny blurry photos, via my ten year old digital camera, after the jump. (more…)
Devin The Dude, Backyard Band, UGK & The Product @ Club Lime DC 4/6/07
Noz’s yearly rap show: I wrote a lot about Devin over at XXL today, so I am keeping this short, sweet and sporadic. They de-batteried my camera so no pictures. $60 at the door, which is a weeks worth of food money for me and meant that I could only afford water bottles all night. Backyard killed it as would be expected. Legend has it that some big name rappers have contractual clauses that prevent them from sharing the bill with go-go bands, as it’s pretty much pointless to expect any rapper to show them up. Devin holds his own specifically because he is such a mellow compliment to their sound. And because DC loves The Dude. He opened up performing “Just a Man” with BYB, then switched to DAT, mostly rocking material from his first record. Only did “What a Job” from the new joint. He is a charasmatic showman.
Club closed at 3:30 before UGK hit the stage, if they were even in the building. The Product did not perform either. Frustrating but predictable. EDIT: Readers have informed me that The Product & UGK were performing on another stage DURING Devin’s set. WTF? Still two long sets from very dope acts is better than four 15 minute ones and eight boring openers, which is more often the case at rap shows.
The Peoples Champ, Unique of the GRIT Boys, One Way Fam, Chocolate City, Circle Boys and a ton of other dudes @ Daedelus
Someone once said that the worst thing about climbing a mountain is that once you reach to top there’s nowhere else to go. Well, I don’t know what the hell that means. I think it has something to do with camping. What I do know is that last night I went and saw Handsome Boy Modeling School. But not because I was anticipating great music (shit o-dub panned the show, and he usually loves everything, even quasimoto).
I was a big fan of Get A Life and the humor aspect of the handsome boy records always always appealed to me more than the actual music. I guess it’s cool to have el-p and alec empire or whoever together on the same track, but I don’t really care about either of them all that much when they’re on separate tracks, so putting them together isn’t much of a draw in my opinion. So yeah, I came out to hear some jokes! Which was probably the best way to approach this show.
First of all I was immediately shocked at how large of a crowd there was. Being a Sunday night and the fact that I haven’t really heard anybody talk about this record all that much, I only expected a moderate turn out. Shit, I only went because it was comped. But the 930 club was pretty damn packed, with the White People tour living up to it’s name. There were a handful of those stupid tribal raver cats that serg was screaming on, a lot of heads in Hiero t-shirts (How are you gonna get handsome when that del shirt is so 1998), and a bunch of white people who were crossing their fingers that Jack Johnson would make a surprise appearance. Some guys were also yelling Kool Keith, for some reason (oh that’s right, didn’t Automator make an album with him once?).
There was a guitarist (with drawn on mustache), a very attractive female on bass and a dude on keyboards. But none of them really seemed to be doing all that much, or maybe i just wasn’t paying attention. Paul & The Automator came out, appropriately with their fake mustaches and cigars and pipes. There was also a large screen playing videos of lame shockwave style cartoons of all the vocalists from the albums interspersed with random footage of motorcycles, classic b-boys in reverse, donatella versace smoking cigarettes and paul and nakumura serving caviar in their handsome boy garb and such. The footage was hilarious, the cartoons, less so. Animating the musicians probably seemed like a good concept, but it was so poorly executed (their lips only partially synced up with the music!) that it just made things worse. I think they were cutting shit up with one of those dvd dj joints, which are really cool.
As far as the jokes/interludes go Prince Paul was in his element and it was nice to see that the man who’s provided so much entertainment via studio skits is able to translate that skill into a live performance. For a producer he’s a pretty charismatic dude. I was most struck by his dedication to saying “VAN DAMME” a lot in a true native tongues style (he also dropped a “vanglorious” as well, word to the red black and the green with a key). The Automator was way less comfortable on stage. He was kinda murmuring but he did wreck shop when it came to the turntablist department.
They brought out a bunch of Handsome Boy graduates -
Mr. Dead was the first to come out, rocking glasses and wig (for a split second i thought it was Biz Markie, but then I realized he was way to thin to be the Biz). I’m not really sure what his story is, I only vaguely remember that Metabolics record, and it’s probably better that way. But I will say this – homie’s got jokes. He really stole the show with an intermittent routine where he’d pull people up on the stage and make them ‘handsome’, which mostly consisted of drawing fake mustaches on the guys and talking about the ladies breasteses. And he put on a Zoolander style walk off to Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”.
Casual was there, who i was excited to see. He did his song from the Handsome Boy album and “Get Down”, that alchemist cut from his last record. I was hoping he’d do some older material, but whatever, he was a nice addition. I really didn’t expect anybody even remotely interesting to be there. Domino from Hiero was in the building as well, not doing anything.
Josh Haden came out and looked uncomfortable for his few songs. What’s that guys deal? He didn’t exactly exude the self confidence that the handsome boy program promotes. Paul did say “if i was a white person i’d look like this guy”.
Dres from Black Sheep came out last and performed “Choice Is Yours” and only about 20% of the crowd even knew that shit. Now look, I am hip hop elitist, but I hardly think it’s outrageous to expect anyone with even a mild exposure to the genre to know this song. It was a GIANT FUCKING hit. DO YOUR FUCKING HOMEWORK. If you are at a hip hop show and you do not absolutely start going buckwild as soon as the “Choice Is Yours” bassline drops, you probably should not be at a hip hop show. Sorry kids. I felt bad for Dres. He even prefaced it by saying “a lot of you probably don’t even know this song”. Which is just a damn shame. But really, would you expect anything less from WHITE PEOPLE?
Guests aside, the music was mostly really boring. Paul & Dan were at the far back of the stage behind a table of equipment and it was hard to tell what they were doing, if anything at all. Most of the show I was just waiting for the music to end so they could get on to more jokes. They really should just cut the show down to a Paul & Mr. Dead stand up tour with Casual and Dres opening.
At the very least I can add handsome boy modeling school graduate to my resume. I got my $60 worth.