Dave Sitek produced two of the better tracks on Wale's debut album, Attention Deficit. At first the inclusion of Sitek as a producer struck me as pandering to the non "hip-hop" crowd. But on the contrary, the beat works well, seamlessly blending with Wale's flow, giving it muscle and producing one of the more enjoyable and well composed songs on Attention Deficit.
Sean P implores the crowd to renew, reuse, recycle.
Rock hit central booking a few nights before so Sean P had the stage all to his lonesome for a good ten minutes. P is a beast live, but you get the vibe he doesn't mind playing the background. He finished his set quick with a growl and then faded to the back and let Buckshot control the stage.
That being said, P is fun to watch when he sets up camp at the edge of the stage, holds the mic in a death grip, bill of his cap covering the upper portion of his eyes while the bottom portion burns holes through you. Pretty great stuff.
You only get one photo this time around. I decided to hang out in the back and enjoy the show from a different perspective. A perspective I'm not used to or inclined to ever try again! The few times I've laid back in a somewhat big venue I've come away underwhelmed. Whether it’s poor sound or a bands inability to transcend a big room, the back of a venue carries a negative connotation for me. Plus, it’s always more fun standing underneath or next to the speaker stacks.
Of course, the chance of coming away underwhelmed from a Spoon performance is rather low. The band has reached a scary level of proficiency live. You'd be hard pressed to find a review reporting anything other than great. (If you do find said review, please don't email me ruining my perfectly good unsubstantiated point). This has nothing to do with meaningless hyperbolic statements. Spoon really are that good live. Really. That’s what you get for touring years on end. When a band attains such a level of proficiency, its performance can often bleed into boredom, or worse, give off a vibe of going through the motions. Fortunately, Spoon's performance did not lapse into either of the two stated options.
'The Ghost Of You Lingers' and 'My Little Japanese Cigarette Case' managed to sound better live than on Ga.... 'You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb' was delivered complete with horn section and was a big crowd favorite. Britt Daniel injected stabs of guitar feedback throughout many songs, never in an intrusive way, and always adding flavor to his otherwise near perfect pop songs. The Gimmie Fiction songs still sound great live, but If I have to hear 'I Turn My Camera On' one more time, I might go crazy. For some reason that song annoys the crap out of me. Let's strike that one from all future set-lists.
The only drawback to the evening was The Ponys opening performance. The last time I caught the Ponys I was blown away by the bands tight rhythm section and endless barrage of guitar feedback. I'm not enthralled by any of their studio albums, none of which have managed to capture their live energy. Since I can't commit to any studio offerings, all that's left is their live show. And much to my dismay, the Ponys laid a fat dud. What happened guys? They sounded off, never coming close to anything tangible you could grab and hold on to. A few times I felt like they were veering towards something concrete but it never materialized. Gummere yelped and screeched his way through the set. I wasn’t expecting him to croon the evening away, but at least be somewhat intelligible. The only saving grace was Exile on My Street, which sounded bad ass. Bad ass, who says that?
What's up? I've been away for like a minute-more like two months. I was knocked out of commission for a while taking care of some business. And damn, did I miss a lot of music this summer. Like Rock the Bells and the Brooklyn Hip-Hop festival. As well as Rock the Bells and the Brooklyn Hip-Hop festival. I spent the last few days cleaning up the blog, chopping weeds and kicking out the homeless, Giuliani style! But I'm back, and I'm bringing it back with the dude who's trying to bring hip-hop back. Back from what, I'm not sure.
You know, everything you hear about KRS-One is true. He's a legend, obnoxious, a monster emcee, insufferable and sorely needed. Look, everyone has their place, and KRS-One's place is to scream on your ass like your dad. (bring it on!) If it weren't for my father following me around the house yelling at me to turn off the lights I just might be a crack head. Thanks dad, and KRS-One too, for making hits and staying fresh and crazy all these years.
It's with that in mind that KRS-One brought his one man show to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. This time it was one of those free summer-time throw-downs that pop off all over Brooklyn and the five boroughs. Prospect Park had that old school block party feel minus the guy bringing around free Starbucks samples. I wasn't around "back in the day" but from the start you felt in your bones that this was how they used to do it out in the park.
If you expected to be bombarded with a dose of heavy handed preaching and teaching, you were greatly disappointed. Not only did KRS not knock you upside the head with your stupidity, he delivered a level headed and moving performance. A performance that was downright charming and inspiring. A performance that managed to never shamelessly knock new hip-hop or call out a rapper by name. There was some scattered talk about how hip-hop used to be done, but honestly, it was for a quick second and he didn't dwell. His main focus was on hip-hop culture and moving it forward through positivity and creativity. I know it sounds cliche, and you know what, it is. Except when one man is rocking a park full of thousands, it kind of makes sense. The aforesaid message was delivered with such zeal and humility (gasp!) that you were ready to buy whatever he was selling, no joke.
But the show wasn't all about delivering a message. Mainly, it was about bugging out and having a good time, which occurred tenfold. A third of the way through his performance KRS put out a call for all B-Boys and Girls in the audience. About thirty people rushed the stage transforming the performance area into a block party setting. A few of the breakers were outstanding and impressed KRS to the point where he broke off his rhyme and pointed in amazement. Check the video below.
On top of the positivity and good times, KRS injected the crowd with a dose of inspirational storytelling. See, before BDP fame, way back in 1980, KRS was homeless. His home of choice was Prospect Park. His bed of choice was the Prospect Park bandshell. The very bandshell he was now performing in! He would sleep at night and during the day hang out at the Grand Army Plaza Library getting his knowledge on. As a young KRS poured through books, thoughts of the future danced through his head. A future that consisted of one day rocking a mic in Prospect Park. The very park his was now rocking! Or so the story goes. Can someone fact check this please? Even if it's not true, and something tells me some of it is, the story connected with most and accomplished its modest goal.
The rest of the set flowed from there with songs spanning his vast catalog much to the delight of Brooklyn. But the specific songs aren't important when accessing the overall vibe of the evening. From day one KRS has laid down his blueprint for how he feels it should be done. If you dislike his zealot like adherence to this blueprint or his browbeating stance, that's cool. But you still can't deny his place. Maybe that night my judgment was clouded and his seeming relevance was a mirage that existed only to myself and the thousands of people in and around the bandshell. After thinking about it for days that doesn't make much sense to me. It can't all be nostalgia, can it? It has to be something more. There seems to be some kind of force around the guy which keeps him moving along at the speed of hip-hop. Call it skills, but its something more you can't quite put your finger on.
File this in the rap nerd category. About halfway through his performance KRS busted out a marker and started signing anything the crowd held up. He even autographed some guys passport. As he made his way down the stage I took out my copy of Check The Technique, which KRS signed. Yes, I carry a copy around with me.
DJ "Superman" Scratch
Ladybug Mecca, still Cool Like Dat after all these years...(She also performed)