Little Brother with Double-O of Kidz in the Hall
Paid Dues Tour
Saturday, June 7
Better Than: Believing hip-hop is deceased.
It would be great to say the hip-hop extravaganza known as the Paid Dues Tour went off without a hitch this past Saturday night. The vibes were nice, all of the MC's who performed were superb, and this was easily one of the best hip-hop shows to take place this year.
Upon first walking into the venue though, fans were hit with unfortunate news. Due to death in his family, the headliner of the event Rakim was unable to make it. Typically, that would be a major blow to any concert but the folks at Contagious Musiq--the local promoters in charge of this leg of the tour, handled it properly. They refunded $5 off of everyone's prepaid ticket and lowered the price at the door by the same amount. A lot of folks wouldn't have done that so here's an early shout out to the folks at Contagious for merging business sense with common sense.
Beyond that early glitch, much of the show was real impressive. The line-up was stacked with indie hip-hop heavyweights such as Blackalicious, Little Brother, Supernatural, Buckshot, Sollilaquists of Sound and Kidz in the Hall, all of which delivered plenty of fresh rhymes and then some. Couple that with solid local acts, Major League, Fresh Air Fund, and Wrekonize Ft. MAYDAY! and this was as serious of hip-hop show as fans are going to get until Rock the Bells happens in August.
Alexandrah of Solillaquists of Sound
As I first walked around the venue, Chicago's Kidz in the Hall were on stage. The duo of Naledge and Double-O, who are signed to Buckshot's Duck Down Records were doing a good job of keeping the crowd amped and folks seemed like they were digging their style. A lot folks try to pigeonhole groups like that strictly as backpack rappers but they sounded versatile to me as they performed tracks off of their latest LP, The In Crowd.
Next up, ace freestyle Supernatural and Scratch from the Roots took the stage and as always, Supernat spent most of his set coming off the top of his head. Their were some written verses in there, I'm not blind to that, but anybody that considers themselves a freestyler needs to check this guy out if you're not already familiar with him. He spent about 25 minutes doing a variety of tricks that included throwing his voice to sound like Slick Rick, while rapping "Children's Story," Dougie Fresh, Biggie Smalls, and others to the crowds delight. Dude had jokes too and his Floridian rhymes about waking a pitbull named Flo Rida and having a belly bigger than Ross' were timely if not hilarious.
After Scratch and Supernatural finished up, Buckshot jumped on stage and the place went nuts. He's got hits that date back 14 years and he delved into a lot of those early Black Moon classics like "How Many MC's" and "I Got Cha Opin" which the crowd seemed to appreciate. Everyone's hands were in the air. Buck's performances are known to be highly energetic and this one was no different. His seemed sort of short, and truth be told, you could notice a slight lull in the crowd as he performed some of his newer joints which some fans may not have heard yet.
Blackalicious came out next and the duo of Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel were next up and their lightning fast brand of West Coast hip-hop took the crowd almost by surprise. On wax, most folks know that Gift of Gab raps fast but you can't really get a feel for how fast he spits until you see him in person. As they jumped into tracks from their classic album, Blazing Arrow, folks couldn't help but rap along with them. It seemed like the crowd had thinned out a bit after Buckshot left which was a shame cause folks who bailed early missed out. Chief Xcel was scratching his ass off doing the best he could to keep the energy alive but, for whatever reason, something still felt amiss. After the show, Xcel said the show was "aiight," which meant he wasn't totally happy with it, but when you're on tour, their are on nights and off nights. That's just the way it goes.
Little Brother closed the show out and they definitely didn't disappoint. Before their set, Phonte of Little Brother asked the show's host Murs (who seemed a bit out of it) how much time the group could get. Since Rakim wasn't there, it was natural for them to rock a little longer. Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh have come along way since the first time I saw them perform in 2004. They've got more stage presence, one less DJ (super producer 9th Wonder has left the group) but a lot more confidence and swagger. They're classic joints from The Listening and The Minstrel Show went over well with the crowd. Folks who stuck around had a good time as it was a good night for hip-hop all around.
Overall it was a good show. I hate I missed some of the local acts but a lot of them will be on the Rock the Bells show this August and the Paid Dues Tour, in essence, is a lead up to that concert.