born a few years after the birth of the Rock Steady Crew. That makes me too
young to remember the good ol days, but old enough to remember some fine
moments. As I grew older and Hip-Hop started to suck, I gravitated toward the
purer aspects of the culture undefined and became an avid
attendee at the annual anniversary.
few years back something happened. I remember it was Nas remix for Where Are
They Now? that began the downward spiral for me. I remember listening to both
of those two hour remixes and asking myself, Das Efx? What are you doing now? I thought a more
appropriate remix wouldve included verses from these retired emcees on what they
really are doing now. Do they have
healthcare? How about 401K?
a retired MC do if they only had one hit during an era of being quietly pimped
by record labels and artist management? I started to view the Rock Steady Crew
Anniversary as a haven for these artists to beat their chests about how
different Hip-Hop is these days and how many people think Hip-Hop is Dead but
theyre wrong, because it lives in annual festivals where one song from the
80s gets you a spot on stage. That was my frame of mind for the past three
years. I still showed up every year to roll my eyes though, and would announce
this was my last year attending.
Rock Steady Crew turned 31 this year. I figured, okay why not show up. That and
I had to cover it (laugh out loud). I headed into Brick City, NJ
with an open mind. The air was humid, the clouds were teasing us, and the sun
was playing peek-a-boo. Crazy Legs the legendary
face and President of the Rock Steady Crew makes his way through the crowd to speak to everyone he can.
pint-sized Japanese girls called the G3 Crew got on stage. They were clad in
neon camouflage with t-shirts sporting their G3 name. Imagine being the best
dancer you could ever be. Add in Ciaras matrix, whatever it is that Chris
Brown does, and then the best of b-boys and b-girls. These girls still danced
better than that. When they came off the stage, one of them was in tears she
was so happy. Their manager was crying. It was really emotional. Even grown ass
men about to rap were teary eyed. The next generation had just hopped off the
stage. Then the
rain came. Oh good. It wasnt rain rain; it was hurricane rain. Rappers still
performed, dancers still danced. Even fans played around in the mud. It was
Then the rain stopped. Go figure. The A.O.K. [All Out Kings] collective came
on, led by Fresh Daily, who was run over by a car earlier this year and has a
leg full of metal. Im walking at least, he tells me, but Im in pain
because of the rain. He was animated on stage like the bionic man. I began to question my
devotion to Hip-Hop. Had that been me, I wouldve been knee-deep in A Different World marathon on my couch.
Back to the lecture at hand.
some hustle and bustle in the backstage area. Who walks in? Ice-T and Coco. I sit down and chat with Ice-T for a minute. He
tells me he heard Crazy Legs was having a show in Jersey,
so he had to come support. After a few minutes, I am asked to stand to the side
because a few Newark
cops want their picture taken with Ice-T. Oh the irony. A bunch of the Rock
Steady Crew stood around Ice-T for a photo. Then one of the members said
Freeze needs to be in this shot, and removes his jacket bearing an airbrushed
picture of the late crew member Frosty Freeze who died earlier this year, and
holds up the jacket for the shot. It was a sentimental moment.
of the show was dedicated to a female MC cipher spun by DJ Chela. Sara Kana,
Mala Reignz who won a past Beat Melee on here for her song BX Til I Die
Miss Nana, Patty Dukes, and Miss Rap Supreme winner Rece Steele all took shots
on the mic. Bahamadia showed up later on to perform, which was like whoa!
just acknowledge that Skyzoo, The Arsonists, and Akrobatik sounded like they
really did their thing, as did the Rock Steady Crew with Tony Touch, but I
didnt get to see them since I was approaching heat exhaustion and had to sit
in a tent with a fan. Im getting old, what do you want me to do? Im sorry!I got my
second wind right around the time KRS-One walked in. Wow. Hes tall. Maybe hes
actually very short in reality, but it was KRS-One, so he looked 84. I think
he is legitimately tall though. The Supreme Teacher looks like hes been
in the eyes throughout our whole conversation. It was intimidating, but
fascinating nonetheless. Just as we are getting into a good convo, in walks Fat Joe. I had to come see my idol perform! he shouts and runs to KRS-One and
gives him a man-hug. He asks KRS-One for permission to warm up the mic before
he gets on. Permission granted. KRS is like sure! Ever so giddy, Joe proceeds to map
out his short set list while KRS continues our convo. I hear Fat Joe in the
background saying, Lets take New York
out this is Jersey. Say what you want about
Fat Joe, but that man is a bigger rap fan than most, as Ive learned from this
experience. Keep in mind none of the performers were paid either.New Jersey native El Da Sensei comes out and
performs some tracks from the now defunct Artifacts. As hes about to finish,
Tame-One [the other half of the duo] comes out to perform. The EOW [End of the
Weak] hosts make El Da Sensei come back and they say something about how there
is no beef at Rock Steady Crew. Tame-One did NOT look happy, especially since he
had zero solo time and now he was forced into a peace treaty with his estranged
rapping partner. It was about as peaceful as it could be for two MCs standing
on opposite sides of the stage. S.O.U.L. Purpose performed with frontman Mazzi.
I heart him.
So surprise guest Fat Joe gets on stage much to the audiences surprise. He delivers a
number of songs including the infamous Lean Back before going through a
series of Big Pun tracks and dedication to other rappers weve lost along the
A side note Buckshot was supposed to come and perform. Instead, the whole
Bootcamp Clik shows up without him. That was weird.
time for KRS-One. From BDP to his solo work, KRS-One was golden on that stage. Fat
Joe stood in the background completely in awe. It was a monumental moment for
everyone, young and old. In speaking with KRS earlier, I asked if the young
heads have respect for the Hip-Hop of days past. He said they didnt have to it
was a whole different Hip-Hop that they were listening to. But at that moment,
everyone was listening to the same song and it was a beautiful one.
Buckshot was missing in action and there was time to fill, KRS-One started a
cipher. A pass the mic session starring the likes of himself, Fat Joe, Funky
Child from Lords of the Underground, Craig G, Hakim from Channel Live [yup they did Mad Izm], Steele from Smif-n-Wessun, Black Ice, the Artifacts, and DJ
Premier and Marley Marl posted up on stage with the Rockteady Crew. I felt a
lump in my throat. I realized what a dummy I had been for comparing the Hip-Hop
of the present to that of the past. We can Crank Dat 364 days of the year
[well I never Crank Dat but still], but there is at least one day a year
where we can return to where it all started, and that day was today.
Steady Crew, Ill see you next year.