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This concert was a bucket list show for me.  Rakim and Big Daddy Kane are in my top three all-time hip-hop artists of all-time.  I was unable to secure a photo pass for this show, so this was my first concert not taking pictures in about 11 years.  However, the experience allowed me to just stand back and enjoy the show for once vs. having to work at that was awesome!  The turn-out was great, with the crowd ranging in age from mid-40’s to 60, because this was our generation of music, what we grew up on.  We are all old heads now, but for a few hours we were all young kids again.  And as a teen from white suburbia, these are the artists (along with Whodini, KRS-One, Kool Moe Dee, N.W.A. etc.) that opened my eyes, made me what I am today, and help create and shape my love of music.  And if seeing my favorite hip-hop artists wasn't enough, proceeds from this this show would be supporting the Citizen Science Lab in Pittsburgh, a non-for-profit devoted to children and increasing the number of underrepresented groups in the sciences. So Cool!

First up on stage was 54 year old Bronx native Positive K.  It was a great way to start the day and brought back memories as he performed his hit songs "I Got A Man" and "I’m Not Having It". I started to feel like I was a teen again, and that feeling only grew as each performer hit the stage.  After a few more songs, Positive K went into a little stand up to finish off his set.  He gave the crowd some laughs for sure, but his performance was special and overall a great transition to Big Daddy Kane.

Next up was my all-time favorite, 53 year old Brooklyn born Big Daddy Kane (aka B.D.K., Dark Gable, King Asiatic Nobody's Equal, Blackanova, Count Macula, Prince of Darkness).  He stepped to the stage and hit the crowd with "Raw" to start it off and you knew he was going to bring it hard the entire time.  BDK then slowed it down with some smooth lyrics and dancing when he went into "Smooth Operator". It’s a song that sums up why I say he is the smoothest rapper ever to enter the game. At the end of the song he brought in some nice Marvin Gaye vibes followed by a sweet freestyle with his fast spits.  Then it was time for "I Get the Job Done".  The crowd was rapping and dancing along to the entire song with lyrics such as 'I'm Browner than Bobby so won't you be my Tenderoni.' He had a young dancer on stage that was doing some amazing break dance moves, flips and spins - it almost hurt watching him.  And in true fashion, BDK joined him in dancing for the crowd.  As he continued on with his classics like "Ain’t No Half-Steppin’", he put on a performance I will never forget. 

Now it was time for Slick Rick (The Ruler) to hit the stage.  The 57 year old MC from Mitcham, UK strolled out on stage wearing all white with a sweet big platinum and diamond chain.  When he went into "The Show", the crowd was following his chants, responding back to him in full force… 'Let me here you say hoooo, hoooo!'  His DJ came out from behind the turn tables to fill in for Doug E Fresh on "La Di Da Di".  His beat boxing was amazing and so was Slick Rick's, letting the crowd take over most of the verses.  He then stepped off stage to change and when he returned he was in a new shirt and chain.  The chain was the size of a large cutting board and hung so low he had stop and put it around his neck twice!  He had the lights turned all the way down and had everyone pull out their phones and swing side to side as he performed "Hey Young World".  After a few more classics he went into "Children’s Story", this really took me back to my high school years.  The crowd was dancing and on every lyric as Slick Rick was rapping, and he ended the last few lines with the crowd taking every other line:


He was only seventeen, in a madman's dream (Slick Rick)

The cops shot the kid, I still hear him scream (crowd)

This ain't funny so don't ya dare laugh (Slick Rick)

Just another case 'bout the wrong path (crowd)

Straight 'n narrow or yo' soul gets cast (Slick Rick)

Good night, knock em out the box Rick, knock em out Rick (crowd)


What a fantastic experience.

It was now time for the headliners of the event, 54 year old Rakim from Wyandanch, NY (aka The God MC, Kid Wizard, The R, The 18th Letter) and 57 year old DJ from Philadelphia known as DJ Jazzy Jeff.  As Jazzy Jeff announced Rakim on stage, you just felt his power as he walked out to "My Melody" and hit the crowd with his lyrics. He went into some of his newer songs like "It’s Been a Long Time" and "Guess Who’s Back".  As awesome as these were, the crowd really wanted to hear his old school classics.  But before hitting the classics, Rakim stepped aside to let Jazzy Jeff do his thing on the ones and twos.  He hit the crowd with LL Cool J's "Rock the Bells", cutting and scratching like I’ve never heard before.  The crowd was silent as he was doing his thing, just in awe of what we were hearing.  My wife and I met working for a DJ company while in college, and Jazzy Jeff is what made her want to become a DJ, so you could say Jazzy Jeff brought us together.  This set was her bucket list for hip-hop.  As Rakim went into "Eric B is President" and flowed through "I Ain’t No Joke", "I Know You Got Soul", "Don’t Sweat the Technique" and "Know the Ledge",  we were flowing with so much energy and feeling like kids again.  Jazzy Jeff got another turn with his magic on the turn tables and once again wowed the crowd with what he was creating up on stage.  And them Rakim ended the show with "Paid in Full" with the crowd rapping along as if it was all of ours to perform. 

This may seem cliché but this was truly one of the best concerts I’ve been to.  It had a lot to do with my bucket list, the nostalgia, and the classic old school hip-hop we grew up on.  But ultimately for me, it was the amazing performances from these legends and how good they sounded that separated this show from all others I had been to in the past.  A lot of music becomes dated and should be expected with all generations and musical genres.  However, artists like Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Slick Rick and Rakim will always be relevant because they brought something new to the scene, something very relevant with timeless lyrics, style, and beats.  And this was so true with this show.


One Love - Todd


Todd Judd

Photojournalist - Pennsylvania

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