The Rock Steady Crew’s 36th Anniversary Show at Summerstage, Rumsey Playfield, feat. Craig G., Q Unique, Torae, Homeboy Sandman, Special Ed, Brand Nubian, Main Source, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, and others 7/27/13

The Rock Steady Crew’s 36th Anniversary Show feat. Craig G., Q Unique, Torae, Homeboy Sandman, Special Ed, Brand Nubian,  Main Source, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, and others 

Rumsey Playfield

July 27, 2013

With this summer being one of the busiest summers of recent memory, I’ve been desperately trying to catch up on and keep current on a ton of stuff for the site, including photos, live show reviews, album reviews, interviews and the like but man, has it be been fun! In any case, as I’m pretty sure i’ve mentioned before, Summerstage has paid quite a tribute to hip hop as the genre and it’s culture have turned 40 this year with an All-Star cast of beloved New York-based acts from arguably hip hop’s greatest period to date – roughly 1988 to about 1997. 

I had been excitedly awaiting the Rock Steady Crew’s 36th Anniversary Show at Rumsey Playfield, not so much for the Rock Steady Crew but for Brand Nubian and Pete Rock and CL Smooth. Led by Grand Puba, Brand Nubian released several of the era’s most prominent and conscious hip hop songs –“Slow Down,” and “All for One” as well as one of the grittiest songs of that “Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down.” Certainly, the legendary Sadat X has one of the most distinctive and original voices in hip hop; however, it was odd to see just Sadat X and Lord Jamar doing the   early Brand Nubian material without Puba. Although i was wondering what that was about, Lord Jamar and Sadat X commanded the stage in a pretty short set – where they played their big hits and kept it moving for the next artist without wasting much time. After all, with such a full day of music time couldn’t be wasted… 

But i was most excited for Pete Rock and CL Smooth. As a teenager I had the duo was among my favorite acts – mainly because of Pete Rock’s incredibly lush takes on occasionally obscure but seemingly familiar soul samples, and CL Smooth’s smooth, self-assured delivery. Their songs seemed to cover a variety of experience from mourning the loss of one’s best and dearest friend, love and other subjects in a very adult (and conscious) fashion. In fact, songs like “Straighten It Out,” “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” and “Take You There” manage to not only bring about a healthy sense of nostalgia, they’re songs that manage to capture the attention and devotion of younger hip hop heads – perhaps because their beauty and sensitivity are so sadly rare, and frankly, so badly needed.  

And the surprise of the afternoon that had everyone losing their mind – Pete Rock and CL Smooth brought on DMC of Run DMC for “Down with the Kings.” Can you say hip hop moment? Yep. 

Main Source made an appearance and this time, it was the full lineup consisting of Large Professor, Neek the Exotic and Nutso. The last couple of times they’ve done extremely accusatory versions of “Faking the Funk,” as though they were calling out hip hop fans and acts. In some way, considering a kind of tepid reaction to one of the genre’s great productions and unheralded emcees, it seemed necessary. The fact that there were some people who didn’t recognize the guy behind some of the great songs of Nas’ eponymous debut, Illmatic just seemed straight up shameful. (Interestingly, there were a few moments of surreal humor as Nutso spent part of their set repeatedly shouting out Anthony Weiner – usually by saying “I wanna give a shoutout to Anthony Weiner” or “Carlos Danger,” is in the building and for no apparent reason. )

Homeboy Sandman was consistently entertaining as he played several songs from a couple of his previously released album including a couple of songs form his excellent The Good Sun, Subject: Matter, as well one of his most recent Stones Throw Records release.

Also the Rock Steady Crew came to represent and spread a truly hip hop positive message. It also served as one of Crazy Legs’ last performances. But interestingly, Crazy Legs brought out a young man who stopped two warring factions of Ugandans and united them through a common cause – hip hop. He also mentioned how the young members of the troupe were all A students. Pretty cool stuff. But the last (and perhaps most important) bit of news was it was announced that Crazy Legs would be making his last performance a few days later – and since it came out of the blue, it was admittedly quite shocking and out of the blue.

Check out some photos from the proceedings below

DJ Evil Dee

This woman had a great t shirt that caught my attention. Old school hip hop, forever. 

DMC of Run DMC making a guest appearance on “Down with the Kings.”

This pic was backstage and a pretty memorable one at that.

Check these photos and the rest of the photos from this day of hip hop by going to the Flickr set here: