The legends of hip-hop are trailblazers. They're talented, they're charismatic, they're memorable, and they're, well, kind of old. The audience at the Legends of Hip-hop tour started out spunky and dancing like they were at tha club, but by hour five, it was looking like tha home up in there, like the retirement home. A really well-dressed retirement home.
It's not that anyone was really that old in the crowd. When Salt of Salt-N-Pepa yelled out for '60s babies, there weren't any more yelps than when she called for '80s babies, but after a certain age -- that age is 26 -- you can't keep your enthusiasm up for five hours anymore. Besides that, these aren't up-and-coming acts. Each performance lasted about 20 minutes with long interludes of DJs spinning all the music we grew up loving in an effort to keep us hyped. It worked for the most part, but by the end, people looked just tired.
Enough with the griping. We got to "Push It" with Salt-N-Pepa
and watch Kid 'N Play
do the freaking kid 'n play! Nothing wrong with that. Did our backs hurt at the end of the night? Yes, but we witnessed some truly enduring talents do what they do best.
It wasn't packed when Rob Base of "It Takes Two" fame rocked the stage. People were seriously, though, very seriously, dancing. Prince Markie Dee (I believe) of The Fat Boys MC-ed to everyone's delight, and then Special Ed hit the mic.
Special Ed is a dad and looks like a dad. He talked about his family and gave a shout-out to Piper High School. You might remember Ed from the movie Juice, but the crowd remembered every lyric to every song he sang. A friend noted that he was the only performer that night not getting nostalgic about the old days of hip-hop, telling the young folks how real it was.
Lorenzo Thomas of 99 Jamz came out in Obama gear saying, "I'm not telling you who to vote for.." The "but" was implied. Luckily, it wasn't church, well, at least not until DJ Kool came on the stage and started sounding like Jesse Jackson.
But first, the moment we've been waiting for since elementary school. Kid 'N Play doing their dance that is apparently called the Funky Charleston, but which we will refer to always as the kid 'n play. Scenes from their House Party movies screened behind them as they disrobed showing shirts that said "2" -- on Kid -- and "Hype" -- on Play. A mini rap battle had them singing "Anything you can do, I can do better." With the Charleston and Annie Get Your Gun stuff, maybe Kid and Play are big old theater nerds. As they closed out with the House Party II theme "Ain't Gonna Hurt Nobody," it became clear how few songs these guys actually put out. They're just movie stars. Like actual, real movie stars.
A montage showing oldie but goodie hip-hop videos kept people awake and got them back on their feet. EU's "Da Butt" really and honestly got da butts gyrating. This led into probably the most spirited performance of the night by EPMD. Though there was an old man diatribe in there about artists these days lip-synching, music these days making his kids dumber, the importance of having a real DJ -- he had DJ Scratch -- and so forth, these two had the umph and dynamism of young stars. EMPD closed with their hit "Rampage." It was in the video for that song that a young Jennifer Lopez made her debut -- little fact for ya. Finally, EPMD made the first and only reference to Trayvon Martin.
Then DJ Scratch took things a little too far. He compared each turntable to a ladies' leg, left one, right one, and then scratched with his face, placing it in the middle. It was a sort of odd cunnilingus reference. Well, not so much reference, but blatant analogy. He said, "Faster I go, the more noise you make." Luckily, this was the "legends" and not the "teenagers" of hip-hop.
As we mentioned, DJ Kool made sure to preach about how great DC was, gave some RIP moments, and just generally sounded like he was at the pulpit. It took him a while to get in there and clear his throat. Whodini came out dancing and singing. It was at this point though that we were contemplating bailing. There was still Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, and Salt-N-Pepa to go, and it was midnight.
Lucky for Salt, Pepa, and us, they hit the stage at just the moment when actual fatigue kicked in. The two worked the stage like young women. Since Cheryl James, A.K.A. Salt is a religious woman, we didn't hear any dirty lyrics from her, Pepa took care of those. And there was sadly no talking about sex, baby. No talk of you and me or all the good things and the bad things that may be.
At "Whatta Man," James brought her husband of 20 years onstage, Gavin, to sing to and dance with, and then there was mention of Sandra Denton's, A.K.A. Pepa, "baby daddy" Treach of Naughty by Nature. Since Pepa is single, there were plenty of dude dancers that made their way around the stage for her to tease. Sadly, there was a moment of "Party Rock" only redeemed by a sweet performance of "Push It." Let's just say this, for legends, they pushed it, and pushed it real good.
Everyone was styling. Saw one or two babies, maybe two really old people, a few teenagers, some with parents, but mostly people in their thirties and forties. Everyone was a dancer.
Personal bias: I really wanted to hear "Let's Talk About Sex." I'll get over it. Maybe.