Photo by Victor Gonzalez
The Stage Miami
Friday, December 7
Better Than: Getting Paid in Increments.
It had been a long time since Rakim rolled through our hood prior to last night's performance at The Stage.
But when the God Emcee actually hit the stage shortly after 1 a.m. following opening sets by local crews Problem Kids and ArtOfficial, thick clouds of marijuana smoke and a crushing wave of nostalgia made it easy to forget just how long it had been.
Backed by two-thirds of ArtOfficial and their homie, guitarist Aaron Lebos, Rakim ripped through a 15-song set that transported OG hip-hop heads back to rap's New York City roots.
"I know I ain't been in Miami in a while, so I feel that this song right here is appropriate," Rakim told the crowd before breaking into his third track of the night, "It's Been a Long Time."
"The guy's a living legend, man," ArtOfficial bass dude Ralfy Valencia told New Times after the set. "I'm feeling pretty good."
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After meeting Rakim a day earlier to "talk about the tunes," the group spent two-and-a-half hours before the show running through the rapper's material. Rakim, however, didn't make the rehearsal.
"He had interviews to do and ended up showing up after the rehearsal was over," Valencia says. "But he was super fucking cool, man. Very down to earth guy. He had a lot of trust in us, he'd never heard us play. And everything turned out pretty great."
Indeed it did.