By Dashaun Simmons
At first glance the idea of shelling out a minimum of 100+ tax dollars on a hip-hop concert in a recession seems more than a little out of the question. However on August 38th scores of hip hop fans showed up on Governors Island in NY to collectively throw their hands in the air. Who amongst the working public could resist seeing A Tribe Called Quest, Wu Tang Clan and Snoop Dogg all performing their universally accepted (ask Lupe Fiasco) classics? The early arrivals were treated to golden age veterans Slick Rick and Boogie Down Productions (KRS – ONE). These two acts recreated their landmark albums The Adventures of Slick Rick and Criminal Minded respectively to a new audience. KRS-ONE tested these ticket holders a few times to see if they knew the lyrics to the many classic songs on his first album. Unfortunately concert goers able to afford this concert in this economy, weren’t necessarily the target audience for early BDP. To their credit they did appreciate the guest appearance of Buckshot, and Freddy Foxx playing the role of hype man.
Following BDP the question mark act of the tour Ms. Lauryn Hill took the stage with her band opening with Lost Ones. Since the beginning of the Rock The Bells tour folks have been skeptical of her return to the stage and looking for her to fail. Unfortunately this performance did little to shut up her naysayers. Backed by a somewhat loose band arrangement Lauryn flew frantically through her classic songs over unrecognizable rockish backdrops. The audience would get hype at the opening lines classics like Ex-Factor and Fu-Gee-La, but by the end find themselves lost in the unfamiliar territory. The sound during this set was terrible which didn’t help. The most memorable point of Lauryn’s set was when a barrage of star power emerged from backstage. Ms. Hill pulled everyone from Chris Rock (who was like a little kid on stage taking pics with his phone) to power couples Jay Z and Beyonce along with their counterparts Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz. However it must be noted Lauryn exhibited the energy of a true emcee on that stage. With a little work and maybe more preparation she could command the stage as she once did.
As the day moved on next up on the main stage was A Tribe Called Quest. For a group who broke up over a decade ago they haven’t lost a single step. Once Tribe emerged on stage you knew you were in the presence of showmen. These were gentlemen who take the art of performing seriously and entertain. They moved through their mid 90s classic Midnight Marauders flawlessly, although not exactly in song order. Phife and Q-tip played off each other so much, it seemed as if this group with once strained relations had forgiven all and were back to their days of asking “Can I Kick It”. Even the sometimes y of the group Jarobi was on deck. With the assistance of the mighty infamous Busta Rhymes and a true school graduate Large Professor this Queens crew held it down.
Wu-Tang quickly followed the Queens team and swarmed the stage with all living members of the group. The only new addition was O.D.B’s eldest son Boy Jones who looks and acts like his father. If you’ve seen one Wu show you’ve seen them all. The legions of fans throwing their Ws in the air showing who they came to see. You could make a game of counting how many fans had Wu-Tang tattoos on their bodies. If someone doubts the influence of possibly the greatest rap group ever, take them to a Wu-Tang show.
The headliner for the day Snoop Dogg, brought the old Death Row team to do his debut DoggyStyle. Snoop, another performer who’s learned a thing or two about entertaining the crowd made it worth the wait for his midnight performance. From the multiple 40 ounces displayed on the stage to the interlude videos starring Snoop and his Dogg Pound crew, if you were a fan you were in heaven. All in all the NY fans were treated to a well organized show and got a proper bang for their buck.