The true spirit of Hip Hop blessed the borough of Manhattan Sunday night as S.O.B.s and AllHipHop launched its new Plain Rap concert series with HEAT, playing host to one of the best hip hop shows in recent memoryand possibly one of the illest end-of-night cyphers of all time. Billed as a Temple of Hip Hop showcase with KRS-ONE and The Jungle Brothers, the event soon turned into a whos who of Hip Hop as legendary MCs from every eraBusy Bee, Melle Mel, Fat Joe, Lord Finesse, Jeru tha Damaja, Kool Keith and moreall came out to celebrate the historic 30th Anniversary of the Almighty Zulu Nation, Afrika Bambataas founding hip hop brotherhood. Zuluuuuu! Dont stop!
As a true hip hop fanatic, in all honesty, I would have been hype just to witness this show butgive thanksI also had the opportunity to set things off DJing before and between acts all night long. As a DJ, I was hype to set the mood and take the crowd back in time, drop some Tribe, Black Moon, Pete Rock & CL, G Rap... But as a fan... As a fan, I was just hype to be able to witness the whole thing, start to finish, from on the side of the stage. Ya feel me?!
In light of my inside view of the proceedings, Allhiphop.com has asked me to recount a little bit of what I saw that night... so hold tight, cuz it was one hell of a show. Plus, in true DJ fashion, I gotta flip it a little to make it interesting, and provide a soundtracka little play by play to help set the scene. Anyway... make way, cuz here I come...
Ludacris, Southern Fried Intro.
From the start of the night, there was a wild buzz in the air. Rumors were circulating at the door that Foxy Brown, Bell Biv Devoe and Queen Latifah might be blessing the spot and SOBs Director of Urban Booking, Erica Elliott, warned me that a couple other DJs might want to rock, namely Tony Touch and Afrika Bambataa. Sound check ran late but the crowd came early, so before long the buzz of excitement was as audible as the music itself and you could feel the anticipation growing in the room. Jeru tha Damaja slid in the door early and quickly took a spot by the front of the stageeven the lyrical monster behind his own library of classic cutz didnt want to miss a second of this.
Black Moon, Who Got the Props
As the beat bounces, the room fills to capacity, and the energy starts to build. Im dropping the set my man Q-Unique (of Arsonists / Rock Steady Crew fame) affectionately calls J.Periods Favorite Recordsthat is, every classic record from 88 to 93 til Infinity(Holla, Q!). The crowd is riding with me, shouting out lyrics, and screaming at the top of their lungs when I get on the mic: Are yall ready to see KRS and the Jungle Brothers?! Its definitely about to go down. Suddenly I turn around and the Propmaster himself, Kool DJ Red Alert is standing behind me with a crate of records. You mind if I get on? he says. I brought some records. The fan in me is dumbstruck. The DJ responds: Yeah, no doubt! Do your thing.
NicenSmooth Lets Take it Back to the Old School...
Red Alert straight rips it. 25 years in the game and still doin his thing! And if that aint enough, Busy Bee (of Wild Style fame) busts on stage and starts vibing with the crowd, call and response style. Grandmaster Caz of the Cold Crush joins in and before long, theyve got the whole place screamin Ho! and rockin the spot like it was 86! Twenty minutes and about 40 breakbeats later, Red hands it back to me and I pump La Di Da Di thru the speakers to keep the vibe goin. The crowd screams every word so loud that when I drop out the music, you can hardly hear the difference. Its definitely about to get ugly up in here... and everyone feels it.
Eric B. & Rakim - Dont Sweat the Technique
With a giant banner onstage that reads: The Hip Hop Declaration of Peace, the true spirit of the culture is in the air like Natural Mystic. But its only when the Message himself, Grandmaster Melle Mel, takes the stage that I realize that this is some real history goin down. I have an ill flashback to being 7 years old, reciting every lyric to Beat Street, and look up to see Melle Mel asking me my name. Yo give it up for J.Period, yall!! He screams into the mic, He doin his thing tonight! Kaboom.
Soul Sonic Force - Planet Rock
Here I gotta flip the script for a second... cuz I didnt play this record. Yes, thats right. Its the 30th Anniversary of the Zulu Nation so believe it: the original Soul Sonic Force takes the stage and performs Planet Rock LIVE. Anyone who doesnt understand the significance of this needs to throw out your Fabolous records right now and enroll in a hip hop history class. For real!! The illest thing is, the show hasnt even started yet. Cuz just when I think I have seen it all, the lights drop, and The Jungle Brothers finally take the stage, givin pounds as they pass, proceeding to rip thru all the classics from Straight Out the Jungle. Fiyah! Paying homage to KRS before he takes the stage, the JBs flip Jimmy as Red Alert himself gets on stage to adlib Propmaster style, and the crowd gets open once again. Its at a fever pitch and the headliner hasnt even hit the stage yet. Mad energy! Ive transformed back to fan mode, snapping my neck along with the crowd, trading looks with Red Alert, Mike G, and waving my arm to punctuate the beat. Melle Mel mouths the words when the JBs drop the title track: Its like a jungle sometimes it makes we wonder how I keep from goin under... The circle is damn near complete.
Dead Prez - Hip Hop
Yo were at Level 3 right now, yall... Melle Mel takes the stage after the JBs step to the rear, and I bump Tribes Stir it Up (Steve Biko) to give the crowd a chance to rest before Kris blows the roof off. Were at Level 3 right now, but were about to take it to Level 4, yall... You ready?! He raised he hand above his head and warns them again. Were goin up here... so you better get ready... Level 4... its about to be crazy... Get ready!! ... One two, one two, uhh.... one two, one two... Its bigger than... The bass from Dead Prezs classic Hip Hop takes over the room and the chant sweeps over the crowd along with the buzz of excitement: They call it hip - hop... hip - hop... hip -hop... hip - hop... Hip Hop has definitely taken over the room as Melle Mel grabs the mic again... Ladies and Gentlemen, with no further ado... Hip Hop is in the building!... Give it up for the one and only... Blastmaster.... K-R-S- ONE...!!! BDPs Kenny Parker takes over the wheels, transforming J.Period, once again, back into fan mode. And I dont give a #*&% what yall DJs say about the kid... Thats BDP sucka! Respect Due!
LL f. Keith Murray, Prodigy, Fat Joe, Foxy Brown - I Shot Ya
KRS rips it. I mean destroys it. I mean damn. Anyone who has ever been to SOBs knows the crowd moves, but most people just nod their heads and watch. KRS has the whole place feet-off-the-ground jumping, fist pumping, next-day-hoarse screaming. Craziness!! I suddenly find out my girl knows pretty much every word to every BDP song and aint afraid to pump her fist and scream em out loud. But she aint the only one losing composure. I look around and suddenly theres a sea of familiar faces, every one of them a legend in their own rightMelle Mel, Red Alert, Jeru, the Puerto Rican heavyweight Fat Joeeveryoneall geeked and glowing like little kids at their first concert, mouthing Criminal Minded like it was the lunchroom at recess, or they were diddy-boppin down the street in the BX. Plus, Foxy Brown was trying to get in the venue, but she had too much security. Imagine if she got up and spit! Still, this is unbelievable, Im thinking. This right here is HISTORY. Hip Hop - Is In - The Building.
And heres what I love about Hip Hop. Feel me on this. When Hip Hop is in the building, you dont just pump your fist and enjoy, you step into the cypher and get busy for delf! Hip Hop moves you. Involves you. Energizes you. So just when you think youve seen enough, every one of these catsMCs you didnt even see in the placemoves toward the stage, and before you realize whats happening the ultimate cypher has formed right in front of you, poised and ready, set to explode. Check the resume:
Lord Finesse Diamond D Jeru tha Damaja Kool Keith KRS-ONE Busy Bee Fat Joe Mike G
All taking turns ripping it. Man oh man, can this get any better? But the jewel is this: to the DJ / Fan standing on the side of the stage, the jewel is that when the cypher stands ready to hit, DJ Kenny Parker starts to scramble because he is out of instrumentals. Yo, try this. I say, digging in my crates to grab a few. LLs undergound banger I Shot Ya sits on top of the stack I hand to him. Oh sh%*, he says, Thats the one! DJ, fan, whateva. The beat drops and I am just happy to be there. Act like you know, cuz you dont see this everyday.
Gun pon cock... Buyaka!! Lick shot!!
Wu-Tang - Can it Be All So Simple
You know everybodys talkin bout the good old days... the good old days... well lets talk about the good old days... Sunday night at S.O.B.s, the good old days were alive and kickin. Please believe. But dont sleep, cuz two weeks from Sunday, on November 23rd, the legendary Pete Rock & CL Smooth hit the stage @ SOBs for another installment of Plain Rap... guaranteed to be another historic event. And I dont know about yall, but Imma definitely be up in the spot again, poised and ready on the side of the stage. Snappin my neck to the beat. Hypin the crowd every time the needle drops. Checkin the scene from both perspectives. DJ? For a hot minute. Fan? For life.
And there it is.