DJ Marley Marl, Chubb Rock, Black Sheep, Etivan, Main Source, Special Ed, and Das EFX
Summerstage, Queensbridge Park
July 18, 2013
I’ve been desperately trying to keep as current as possible while maintaining a full time job, and naturally there have been occasions where it’s been extremely difficult. But some how we manage to make the best of it right?
In any case, Summerstage has been actively commemorating hip hop’s – and in turn, hip hop culture’s – 40th anniversary this year with an impressive bill of hip hop legends. If they were from the New York area, and were available, you’d see someone from hip hop’s earliest days or from hip hop’s golden age. Granted, for those of us who remember these artists fondly, it’s a trip down memory lane, and it can also be a frightening reminder of how quickly time flies by. In particular, I couldn’t help but think about how all of these guys are now in their 40s and how in many cases it kinda shows – the graying hair, maybe a bit of paunchiness here and there . . .
As for me, when I was a boy, I was huge Das EFX fan; in fact, I still fondly remember saving up money from my allowance and running over to the Nobody Beats the Wiz on 63rd Drive to buy a copy of their debut album, Dead Serious on digalog tape. What can I say? That was high technology then as the tape was supposed to have the clarity and fidelity of a CD – on tape. But let’s talk about one of the best hip hop shows I’ve been to this year, on a sweltering, stifling night.
One of the DJs who was warming up the crowd was the legendary DJ Marley Marl, who coincidentally from Queensbridge.
This woman, who came early was enthusiastic despite the oppressive heat.
So I have a funny story: i’m in the photographer’s pit, taking a few photos and hanging out when I notice that something is off with my 28-135mm lens – it turns out that one of the focusing brackets just broke off and I was having a difficult time focusing without some crazy manipulation here and there. I was trying to figure my situation out, when this woman who was sitting down close to the stage, asked me to take a photo of her – in particular, a photo where she could display her rather large breasts.
Chubb Rock opened the show with a warm up set with Marley Marl as his DJ. But instead of being in the stage, Chubb Rock was in the crowd, with a cipher around him, like in the old school days when they had parties in parks. Basically, it was a medley of old school hip hop and R&B – but the sort of stuff that universally gets crowds to explode. He also managed to do a little bit of his best known song “Treat ‘Em Right.” I kind of wish he did that one a big longer – i had loved that one and had it on a mixtape I had made back in the day.
Black Sheep/Etivan, are acts that i’ve managed to come across on four different occasions this summer. It has begun to seem as though Dres and Jairobi of A Tribe Called Quest were following me to every hip hop show in town. During the Black Sheep portion of the set (which was extremely brief), they did “Choice Is Yours” and the rest of the stuff was new material by Etivan. The Etivan material isn’t as interesting or as seemingly revolutionary as the Black Sheep material was; in some way, it felt like the duo of Dres and Jairobi were trying to capture something that was lost – and will likely lost forever. In some way, I wish that the duo could come up with something as profoundly strange as Ishmael Butler’s Shabazz Palaces.
The Queensbridge Park crowd trying to stay somewhat cool in the heat and lose their minds. Doing both simultaneously was understandably difficult.
The legendary Main Source (well, okay most of Main Source)followed, and honestly Large Professor is under-appreciated as an emcee and as a producer. In the couple of occasions that I’ve caught them, they’ve managed to always play “Faking the Funk” but they’ve never seemed to play “Looking at the Front Door.” I think if I’ve heard “Looking at the Front Door” I’d probably die a happy music fan’s death…
What i will say is that this particular rendition of “Faking the Funk” was angry and seemingly accusatory – as though they were pointing the finger at contemporary mainstream hip hop’s vapidity and phoniness. Their newer material was just as hood, too.
Special Ed followed and of course he did his two biggest songs “I’ve Got It Made” and “The Mission."