Category Archives: Concerts

Rock The Bells NYC (Rock The Rich)

All Photos by Cochrane |

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.


Distant Relatives find a home in Brooklyn

By Dashaun Simmons

On a warm afternoon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn fans of both hip hop and reggae came together to celebrate a rare pairing. One half Brooklyn born, Queens raised street rap, the other half Jamaica bred, reggae royalty. On paper the pairing of Nas and Damian Marley seems too big to work. Both have huge fan bases and are very successful on their own. Also we have all seen what can happen when two genres try to do a full project together. (Best of Both Worlds anyone?) So it’s easy to give a side eye to this project. However these guys prove their disbelievers wrong and gave fans of both genres a reason to party together.

The line for entry (which started around 3:00) stretched three city blocks in anticipation. Ticket holding fans mixed in with a number of hopefuls looking for anyone willing to sell an extra ticket, were excited to sing along, dance and…maybe smoke some weed. Let’s be real here, this is at least a half reggae concert, and therefore weed should be expected like wool scarves being worn in the summer (this is Williamsburg still). The weed part of the evening was in a word interesting due to the large amount of Homeland Security officers ejecting random folks found smoking the modern burning bush. Who would have thought Babylon rules would be enforced at a concert with a Marley on the bill. I suppose this is the new New York. Yet, when early on lighters were tossed from the stage into the audience, it’s hard to make sense of the whole thing. Unfortunately random arrests weren’t the only thing this audience had to worry about. The show itself took 3 hours to get started. About two hours were filled with DJ sets by Hot 97 personalities Bobby Konders, Jabba and Peter Rosenburg. The audience ate up the old reggae tunes as well as the hard-hitting rap tracks played by both groups (except the swag rap segment which was met with boos and thumbs down literally).

As the sun began to set and the band took the stage you could feel the energy rise in the venue. Once the music for the opening for the track “As We Enter” started, Damian walked out to huge cheers making way for Nas to join him. The two of them destroyed their set, flowing back and forth as if they’ve been performing together for years. After doing a few songs from the Distant Relatives album, Damian retired to allow Nas time to commune with his fellow New Yorkers. During this set fans were treated to songs like “Represent” and “If I Ruled The World”. Amazingly, Nas remembered all the lyrics to his songs. This is a rare occurrence.

The Distant Relatives album is perfect for a sold out show like this. Songs like “Dispear”, “Nah Mean” and “Strong Will Continue” keep the crowd on their toes pumping their fists and shouting along with immense feeling. For a moment Nas lets his guard down after rapping about his ex wife’s possible infidelity during their marriage. He says he’s been “going through it” and the fans on this night feel him.

Damian’s solo set while longer than Nas’ was equally enjoyable. This was especially evident when he performed his father’s legendary song Exodus. You could feel history being made right before your eyes. The two performers finished off this intense show with a range of emotions from songs like “Count Your Blessings” to the beautiful “Africa Must Wake Up”. The audience fell completely under their spell following Nas and Damian’s every word from raising lighters to fist pumping and none of it felt forced or contrived. There was a true moment being had both on stage and in the audience. By the hugs and handshakes given throughout the crowd at the end of the show, it seemed that more Distant Relatives were found that night in Brooklyn.

Global Hip-Hop

The only Intl Hip Hop showcase at CMJ where acts from many regions around the world perform under one roof! Excellent talent- and US debuts for most of them…

Here’s a link to a mixtape we made specially for the event.

7PM Thursday, October 22nd


At Versaris- Spain

Alfaress- Morocco

Nomadic Massive -Canada

La Melodia- Holland

Phat Phillie- Croatia

Coolooloosh- Israel

DJ Boo on the decks

Hosted by Blitz The Ambassador


De La Soul 20 Years High and Rising | Nokia Theatre NYC

By Dashaun Simmons/ Mothergreen & h.k.m.

Photo’s by Shino Yanagawa (iPhone)

At the Nokia theater in New York City a celebration was going on last night. Some would say it was a show but I say a celebration. People from all walks of life came together to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of their album 3 Feet High and Rising. I have to say those boys Pos, Dave and Mase know how to put on a show. I mean when you have Bumpy Knuckles and Buckshot opening up for you, you already know what’s up. I walked in on Buckshot’s show after talking to a myriad of friends. He was straight killing the stage. The crowd was heavy into his show as he performed jams from the Enta Da Stage album. I was really excited when he did the first verse from his new single with KRS One “Robot”. I think the song has a lot of promise (yeah I said promise).

Next up was De La straight from Long Island. Plugs 1,2 and 3 came with it and really showed that they deserve such a long career. The show was full amazing moments assisted by the 10 piece band called the Rhythm Roots All Stars. The executions of songs I’m used to hearing on a CD were flawless. The energy level of these brothers who are all significantly older than me (and many of the new rappers on the scene today)put folks to shame. I particularly loved when they performed the songs Stakes Is High and BUDDY with stage assistance from Ali Shaheed Muhammed along with Dres from Black Sheep.

What was amazing to me is that the real stars of the show were the celebration attendees. The crowd was simply amazing. Thus the pictures chosen for this piece. I was fortunate to have a balcony seat and the view of the crowd rocking during the song “The Grind Date”. The scene was mesmerizing. Not to mention when De La performed Rock Box and to add insult to a microphone beat down brought DMC on stage to rip it with them people lost it. Hell I almost jumped out into the crowd from where I was. Even the grand wizard Prince Paul was on deck for the event. You could feel the love in the room and I can count the number of hip hop shows that gave me that type of feeling.

A + show, would view again.

Gil Scott Heron @ SOBs

Gil Scott, a politically charged poet and musician, performed two shows at SOBs last Wednesday with a full house each show. This is my second time seeing him perform and for me personally, he has a soothing presence on stage, almost like hearing your granddaddy telling you a bedtime story. Each song has a story and each story has a meaning.

The best part is he tells jokes and cracks himself up… as you’ll see below.

Roots Picnic 2009

Having attended the first annual Roots Picnic last year, I knew this year’s line up wouldn’t disappoint. Tickets were sold out on the day of with 6,500+ in attendance.  The picnic held at the hometown of The Roots, went from noon to 11pm with food and drinks served all day and shows going on in the main stage and tent area. From acts of old school legends to contemporary, it was a concert for everyone.

The Set List

The crowd at 3pm.

Antibalas, a Brooklyn based Afro-beat group, who are much respected by Questlove after he witnessed their FELA! musical last year.

Black Keys, a pretty rocking band comprised only of two guys. Dan Auerbach, vocalist/guitarist of Black Keys blew his amplifier out in the between sets and the crowd called for a drum solo drummer/producer, Patrick Carney, but he didn’t. Perhaps next time.

Santigold did her thing with a live band, flanked by two sidekicks and brought on Spank Rock as a special guest.

Girls going wild for Asher Roth.

Public Enemy, backed up by The Roots band and Antibalas horns, came out and blew everyone away. Their songs never get old and the crowd never gets less hyped and Flavor Flav who’s practically 50yrs old is still jumping around like there’s no tomorrow.

Brooklyn based, Tv On The Radio, performed last right before The Roots. Starting off with Young Liars, they performed crowd favorites like Wolf Like Me, Staring at the Sun and more.

The Roots closed out the show with a bang, including a 10-minute rendition of You Got Me. They are no doubt one of the greatest bands of our time, consistently pushing the boundaries of music with improvisation and appreciation of different genres.


Asya is in town. =]

Tuesday night, our night kicked off at a bomb ass Japanese restaurant, Oh! Taisho, on St. Mark’s Place. We got our CMJ badges, grubbed, caught up on news and headed over to Brooklyn Bodega’s event with Fresh Daily, Che Grand, Homeboy Sandman, Platinum Pied Pipers with Coultrain, DJ Parler on deck and special guests. That joint was a freakin reunion event. Unfortunately we missed a few performances but got to see Tanya Morgan and Platinum Pied Pipers.. my favorites! They put on a great show and shout out to Craig Hackeysack for getting me a drink and always giving me shit to keep me on my toes.

Following suit, we hopped in a cab to SOBs for the next event where Wale, Daniel Merriweather and Rhymefest were set to perform. Again, we were late. It seemed to be the theme of the night. The showcase was over capacity and was jumpin when Wale came on. Crowd was hyped and sound was good. If you weren’t there… u missed out.

A million more events to go this week but most importantly, come check us out at our 5th Anniversary party at Studio B this Friday. It’s free with RSVP and did I mention Dwele is dj-ing AND open bar?

RSVP Link: