Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Concerts: Roc Raida Tribute [10/22/09] & Duck Down Showcase [10/24/09]

This past week I had the chance to go to 2 fabulous gatherings representing both of the two-letter elements of the hip hop underground - DJ's and MC's.

The first concert was a tribute to one of the great turntablist DJ's in hip hop, Grandmaster Roc Raida, who passed away unexpectedly on September 19, 2009 from complications after two surgeries from a mixed-martial arts accident. This man was part of the legendary DJ troupe The X-Ecutioners (formerly named the X-Men), was the first man from New York to bring home the DMC World DJ Championship title in 1995, was knighted as a Grandmaster DJ, released 7 solo albums and 3 more with the X-Ecutioners, was an accomplished producer, and was the DJ for the artists Show & AG, Big L, Lord Finesse and most recently Busta Rhymes.

You could tell how legendary the man was when you saw all the famous DJ's, producers, and MC's on the stage that came to pay homage to Roc Raida. Legends like Kool Herc and Large Professor were in the building. The extensive list of DJ's included: The Beat Junkies (J-Rocc, Babu, Rhettmatic, Shortkut), Craze, A-Trak, DJ Scratch, Roli Rho, Idee, DJ Dummy, Slyce, Shiftee, and Z-Trip. Of course there were even more names that just showed up in the background like Clark Kent, DJ Skribble, and many others that I'm forgetting or never heard of. And then at the end of the night, Busta Rhymes came out and praised Roc Raida and his family for a good 15 minutes on stage. It was quite inspiring to know that Roc Raida touched all these people's lives in some way.



It was awesome to see so many legends and DJ's cutting it up on stage and performing the routines that Raida used to do himself. It's so crazy what these guys can do with just two turntables, like making new beats with no musical instruments just by cutting up two records. It makes me wish I could be that good on my own turntables without putting in the years of dedication it takes.

Smif-N-Wessun at Duck Down Showcase

The second concert was the Duck Down Showcase. This concert represented the MC portion of my weekend and it was FUCKING AWESOME. So many underground artists were there and they all just came out and rocked the mic back-to-back with DJ Evil Dee of Da Beatminerz on the mix. First, Masta Ace & Edo. G came out as a tag team because these two legends are recording an album under the moniker A&E called Arts & Entertainment. Check out the track A's & E's*. Also, I was so pumped when Ace did his song Good Ol' Love*. Shortly after came Geologic of the Seattle group Blue Scholars (unfortunately the DJ/Producer Sabzi couldn't be there and I almost cried because he is one of my few hip hop heroes). Geo smashed it on his song Loyalty*. Then Skyzoo broke it down with his new single The Beautiful Decay* followed by Kidz in the Hall (Penn Alumni!!) who looked way more the part of hip hop artists since the last time I saw them in Philly two years ago. No longer fresh out of college, these dudes performed their smash singles Wheelz Fall Off ('06 Til)* and Drivin' Down The Block (Low End Theory)*. Then Marco Polo and Torae came out with a quick set (I really just wanted Masta Ace to come out and do the song Nostalgia* with Marco. This flowed straight into Sean Price (aka Ruck) who was joined by Rock to reunite them as the group Heltah Skeltah. Then Smif-N-Wessun stomped through with crazy energy and some of their classic material like Bucktown* and Sound Bwoy Bureill*. Next came Buckshot of the group Black Moon who is the leader of the Boot Camp Clik (also made up of Heltah Skeltah, Smif-N-Wessun, & O.G.C.). You could tell by all of their intensity that these guys have been doing it for a long time ('93-'95 era). Then two guest appearances surprised the crowd as Pharoahe Monch and Sadat X came out. First, Pharoahe and Sean Price smacked the crowd with their unbelievable song on the Tronic album by Black Milk called The Matrix* and as always Pharoahe performed his most famous song Simon Says*. Finally, to round out the amazing evening all the rappers came back out on stage and watched the Boot Camp Clik rock a few songs that they've collaborated on in the past.

This was one of the cooler hip hop events I've been too in recent years. It was not very crowded (probably because events with this many performers are billed under names like Duck Down Showcase) and all the legends came outside the venue after the show and talked to people. Geologic of Blue Scholars told me that him and Sabzi would be moving to NY to record their next album and Beth gave Geo a vinyl record that she painted of a stencil of Sabzi (like the one pictured below). Geo promised to give it to Sabzi and then took her picture with the record (Very exciting).

Overall, this was what a true hip hop event is supposed to be like, with true hip hop fans, and artists from all backgrounds and experience just rocking on the same stage for the love of it.

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