A venue named the “Black Cat” sits between a corner full of bars and restaurants in the Northwest DC. The quaint, but well-regarded outlet is normally a breeding ground for local acts in music, comedy and performing arts, however, it was a host to Hip Hop pioneers last Thursday. These legendary artists may have had sold out shows 25 years ago, but this concert was far more intimate than many would expect if their names showed up in a conversation.
The Black Cat was the host for Rock the Vote, a show based on the organization with a purpose of informing the audience about the impact of voting, using pop culture’s most prolific icons to promote the right to do it. The first Rock the Vote PSA aired on October 22nd, 1990 featuring Madonna as its inaugural music figure. Since then, Rock the Vote expanded into a nationwide movement to push youth to the polls. Alongside Madonna, several figures in Hip Hop and R&B have worked with the organization, including Snoop Dogg, J. Cole, and John Legend, along with the rappers that performed at the concert.
The concert featured a blend of rappers from Hip Hop’s Golden age to the present including 2 Live Crew, DMC from legendary rap group Run DMC, and local up-and-coming rapper Lightshow. Although the acts were very different from one another in regards to sound and music, they all kept the crowd interested through each 30-45 minute set.
Legendary Miami rap group, 2 Live crew, started the show off with their classic booty music. With a three-woman dance ensemble, Fresh Kid Ice and Brother Marquis performed classic songs like “Hoochie Mama” and “Me So Horny.” Their performance reminded many why the group’s music was controversial in the 80’s, but it didn’t stop the crowd from singing along and enjoying the catalogue. Following the 2 Live Crew’s performance was Lightshow. The local DC rapper was the youngest performer on the show’s lineup, adding new sounds to balance out the old school music. Along with a small crew behind him, Lightshow brought the trap element very fluent in DC’s music culture. DMC, one half of pioneer group Run DMC, closed out “Rock the Vote” by performing a plethora a classic hits like “King of Rock,”Peter Piper” and “It’s Tricky.” Rev Run may have not been in the building that night, but DMC kept the crowd energized the entire set.
Although Rock The Vote flourished with its performances, the whole point was to inform the concert-goers the importance of voting, especially since the electoral race for president candidate is going presently. Before the show began, John Sykes, Co-founder of MTV and iHeartRadio, announced that more Rock the Vote PSAs will air in the next month.
Check out some photos of the performance below.