Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review from the Archives: Onyx/Ice-T/Public Enemy at the Ritz, NYC 11/23/92

Long, hot, memorable, political show, the 90s version of what a Pistols/Clash double bill must have been. Onyx opened, ominously, with two female rappers joining them onstage. Their biggest hit with the crowd was the audience-participation hit Throw Ya Gunz. House of Pain followed, turning the venue into just that, doing to rap what Pat Boone did to R&B. As could be expected, the 90%-white audience loved them. Ice-T, however, was a blast, a razor-sharp intellect at work trying to galvanize white support for what amounts to nothing less than a revolution. As in dancehall, the trend in live rap is to truncate the songs so as to fit as many into the set as possible, and Ice-T did his best to oblige: Iceberg, Peel Their Caps Back, Drama and Word all received this treatment. Full length jams he did included O.G. Original Gangster, You Played Yourself, I Ain’t New to This and his closer, the theme from the movie New Jack Hustler. High point of the night: he asks the audience, “Am I up here to tell you to overthrow the government [sparse applause]? No. Am I trying to get you to go out and kill your mother [more applause]? No.  Do I want you to go out and kill a cop [massive appause]? No. We just wanna get butt naked and fuck!” he yelled, and proceeded with LGBNAF in its entirety.

Public Enemy followed with an exhausting and exhaustive performance, playing until both Chuck and Flav were hoarse and everybody was more than ready to head for the subway. Their set was mostly newer material, including a full-length version of I Gotta Do What I Gotta Do along with short versions of Night Train, Bring the Noise, Hit the Road Jack and Burn Hollywood Burn. They took the sound effects off several numbers including the controversial, excoriating Welcome to the Terrordome, the iconic Fight the Power and the murderously anti-redneck By the Time I Get to Arizona, giving Chuck’s lyrics the opportunity to strike with maximum impact. Chuck eventually tired and left things to Flav, who with clock on a chain around his neck provided 911 Is a Joke, Yo Nigga and NY Post. They finally closed the show after 2 AM with full-length if tired versions of Who Stole the Soul, Shut Em Down and Can’t Trust It. It was all that.

[postscript: who would have thought in 1992 that in fifteen years’ time, Ice-T would be best known not for singlehandedly inventing gangsta rap, but for his work as a tv and film actor typecast as an undercover cop! – ed.]

November 24, 2007 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Concert Review from the Archives: Canibus at Tramps, NYC 9/17/98

Got there on time, about quarter after nine. By the time I got inside (mega frisking – no great surprise, after all: this was a hip-hop show), McGruff was finishing up. He didn’t embarrass himself – it seems that Canibus is choosy about who rides with him. Surprisingly, the crowd wasn’t as energized as it usually is for hip-hop at this venue (one of the few in town south of 125th St. that’s willing to book rap at all). Canibus came on shortly therafter and delivered only a 30-minute set – the advantage for those who came out tonight was that nobody had to stand on the accursed floor here long enough for their feet to hurt). Although Canibus only has one album under his belt, he’s already in the upper echelon of rap lyricists. He also has a stage presence I’ve only seen in a few hip-hop artists: Chuck D, Ice-T and KRS-One. To drive home his talent, much of his show was just him rapping without any backing tape or support whatsoever: he’d do a verse, then they’d turn the DAT on again, then there’d be a pause (“Yo yo yo….”), then on with the show. His most impressive bit was a freestyle: again, without the DAT running. Other high points of the night were the acerbic, politically-charged Nigganometry from the new album, and then, predictably, his monster hit Second Round Knockout, to close the show. Mike Tyson didn’t show up to contribute anything. The sound was fantastic: you could hear every word, and the backing tape was pleasantly low in the mix, mostly low, computerized bass rather than the trebly, feedback-prone screech that it usually is here for rap shows. It’s unlikely that someone this talented and bound for stardom will be doing any more appearances at such a relatively small venue.

September 17, 2007 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment