Duck Down 15th Anniversary
With Pharoahe Monch, Buckshot, Smif-N-Wessun, Sean Price, Skyzoo, D. Schwartz
Revolution, Fort Lauderdale
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Better than: The Psychopathic Records' 15th anniversary.
While many '90s rap groups
(à la Wu-Tang) eventually attracted more mainstream audiences, Boot Camp
Click has, does, and will always belong to the underground. And for the
past 15 years, it's been the grimiest beats and grittiest street raps a
$25 ticket can buy.
When Pharoahe Monch, accompanied by X-Ecutioner member DJ Boogie Blind and vocalist Mela Machinko, appeared from behind the giant red curtain dressed like an '80s punk rocker, things got serious. Pharaohe, with his signature precision-tuned, jazz-math rap flow, quickly cut through highlights from his Internal Affairs and Desire albums as well as new tracks from his forthcoming Duck Down release W.A.R. Most notable of which was the powerful anti-police brutality banger "Clap." But we all know what everybody was really waiting for. As the first notes of the Godzilla theme song hit open air, fists went up and heads saluted and stood at attention. Despite its overexposure, "Simon Says" is still pound for pound one of the hypest hip-hop anthems ever penned and a great way to end a set.
Much to my disappointment, there was no DJ Evil D or Rock (1/2 of Heltah Skeltah), but with the rest of Boot Camp and about 20-plus friends and family members on stage, it was hard to notice their absence. From there, it was pretty much back-to-back classics for the rest of the night; "Who Got the Props," "Leflaur Leflah," "Let's Git It On" -- if you are a hip-hop fan in your 20s or 30s, these are the songs you grew up on.
It's hard work being an opener, especially on a bill that already has a
stacked roster. Still, both Dynasty (the self-proclaimed femcee
from Tampa) and Fort Lauderdale's D.Schwartz put forth praiseworthy
efforts to a cold South Florida audience that was talking louder than
they were rapping. The place warmed slightly as recent Duck Down signee
Skyzoo took the stage and plowed through a short but sweet set of classic
hip-hop covers (Nas, Wu-Tang, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, and Black
Sheep), awkward body movements, and, his grand finale, the internet-popular "Speakers on Blast."
With General Buckshot at the wheel, the gorilla-like presence of Sean Price (AKA Ruck of Heltah Skeltah) and the hard-hitting back and forth of Smif-N-Wessun, Boot Camp Clik truly are the A-Team of Rap Music, despite the played-out comparison. Closing on a high note with "I Got Cha Opin (Remix)" and a passionate speech about supporting the label (during which Buckshot announced they had just signed former Bad Boy artist Black Rob), it was cleared to see why after 15-plus years, Black Moon, Heltah Skeltah, Smif-N-Wessun, and the rest of Duck Down still got the props.
Personal bias: It's worth mentioning, in hopes that the problem will be rectified,
that there were several minutes of easily avoidable dead air between acts
as the DJs (who have all gone digital via Serato) changed out laptops.
Not hating, just saying: Momentum killer. Anyways.
The crowd: If you like your hip-hop with neck beards, thugged-out women with
tattooed titties and excessive gunshot and air-horn sound effects, then
you must worship at the altar of Duck Down.