So, things are straight strugglin' over in my corn3r, right now. Life stress has hit the max, my most important personal relationship has taken a hit, and to add to the pile o' $hit, I'm now a recent casualty of the great recession of '08/'09; and was laid-off last week. But like my boy Vic has reassured me: "Being unemployed is what's HOT in the streets, right now..." So, at least I'm still 'cool,' I guess : /
Anyway, as I'd already purchased tix first-thing, and had not left the house nor my room for that matter since I was given my walking papers last Wednesday, I figured it was time I ventured outside for some fresh air, and a nice hip-hop show courtesy of "First name: Dante, last name: Beze" or otherwise known as Mos Def.
I'd already braced myself for the worst, considering that tha 9:30 club had greedily (let's face it, it all comes down to the dough...) added a second "later" show.
In PJ Urquilla's review, he "...gives credit" to tha 9:30 club, for this. But, as a die-hard fan, I find it a bit shiesty that they even attempted to fit-in a second show (plus, isn't there a midnight 'curfew' in DC for 'all ages' shows?? AND, where's my opportunity for a second Lily Allen show, ehh!!?!), which in the end, gives the 'bigger' fans who didn't sleep initially and acted on tix first, a sub par experience. By any 'second set,' the artists, DJs, hypemen, engineers...fuck it, even the bartenders and bouncers are all more relaxed and know what to expect. I think that this would always be the case, and unfortunately it all came true for the 1st, and it seems 2nd show, as well.
As I wasn't there for the 2nd show (again, for the low-down, see PJ's review), and can only attest to the 1st show's experience, I'll only speak on that...but, I was highly disappointed.
From the get-go, I could already tell that the tour's opening (and, for an hour-and-a-half unexpected intermission's...) DJ was timid, at best. Assuming that he 'understood the crowd' and fans that a Mos Def show would bring, I'd expected a lot more of the Rawkus and Soulquarian type sounds that we'd all have loved to hear, while waiting around aimlessly. Instead it was a handful of standard random '90s underground hits, and more than a few ALT-finger-snappin' tracks, and even a '98/'99 R&B group Next, remix (...I mean, really!!?). Apparently, the 2nd show was treated to Mos voicing-over a bit of Outkast's "SpottieOttieDopalicious" instrumental (although maybe in essence, just a hidden sound-check...), while we in the 1st show heard it more than once, and initially on repeat for what seemed like 15-20 minutes. And, while some find it a respectful "nod" to the DMV to drop the staple of Chuck Brown and other Go-Go music tracks, at any DC area hip-hop show...I find it to be somewhat of a lowly insulting cop-out. It's like opening sets in NYC with the standard Rakim tracks, or Philly with the Roots...for those of us 'in the scene,' it gets super-stale and expected after a while. And, while I love dude, and hope for him to get us out of this recessional-black-hole...how many times do we need to be reminded by out-of-town-artists, who is in the White House now??? We live here, and we KNOW this...
The evening seemed saved with the opening act, Philly's Hezekiah, straight ripping it; with the help of his DJ (who really should've stayed-on for the unexpected intermission) and the funky blasts from the back-up pipes of Sax/(electric flute/clarinet?)Trumpeter duo, "Me So Horny." (<-- LOVE the name!!) Hezekiah and Co. did more than their share of getting the crowd warmed up, but then it would be a chilly hour-and-change before we'd even hear Mos' hype-man assurances that he was "on the way."
I know we can't hold Mos responsible for a late Continental flight from NYC, cause I know how that can be...but, it was very poor, as his fans who wanted to see him first (...and more, lets face it, we stepped-up and bought or tix, on time) to be treated to nothing more than a glorified sound-check session. Although we could hear him, and the music levels were 'fine'...we were subjected to constant lamenting from Mos on the state of sounds in the venue. He had his back to us for most of the show, chatting it-up (bitching) to his two DJ/Soundmen (...really, you can't just have dude #2 run the MPC from side-stage??).
And, even his attempt to blast the 9:30 engineers for unknowingly having the 1947-1951 Maya Deren, Haitian-Voodoo DVD, Divine Horsemen, accidentally stuck on repeat for the first scene, for a good 20-30 minutes. The fact that he even became aware of this, with the jumbo-tron screen up-above-and-behind him, is proof that he had his back to us, his fans, long and often enough to notice. Plus, by this point; I think we'd all had enough of the chicken neck wringing, and goat-blood letting for the evening, so keeping it on repeat may not have been such a bad thing, after all.
Ahhh, I have enough going-on to dwell on the negative, so I will just leave it at that. It was a very disappointing experience. I've loved Mos since the days of Soundbombing, and have defended him from naysayer’s, peeps around the way in Brooklyn, and even former classmates of his who've always clowned him and my respect for dude; but, my days of all of that may be numbered.
He straight rocked it at the old DC Nation venue with Black Jack Johnson (...please bring that sound BACK!!!), and killed it this past summer; on his own, as well as teamed-up with Q-Tip at the Rock The Bells show. Perhaps I was simply expecting too much from someone who I felt was one of "real/underground" hip-hop's brightest and 'Mos' talented stars?? But, who knows, the clouds must have just been extra thick the other night, on 9th & V...