Is Old-School Hip-Hop The New Classic Rock?
For many in the audience, the late '80s through early '90s represent something of a golden era for the culture. Public Enemy more the most revered, or feared, band in the land, depending on who you asked. N.W.A. (which featured Ice Cube, as well as future record label exec and headphone mogul Dr. Dre, and the late Eazy-E) were even more polarizing. De La Soul presented an alternative to the testosterone-heavy mainstream, but still earned respect from the top selling acts. And LL Cool J pulled off hip-hop's first big (don't call it a) comeback.
A lot has changed since then: LL and Cube, two of hip-hop's most respected MCs, are equally well known for their work on screen as on the mic. LL Cool J released Authentic back in April, but as he mentioned at his hosting gig at this year's Grammys, by day he's an actor, "and at night, I do a little bit of rapping." His acting career includes a starring role in CBS's NCIS: Los Angeles. Ice Cube meanwhile, is a actor/screenwriter/director, and was behind the Friday and Barbershop franchises. Public Enemy and De La Soul remain two of hip-hop's groups with the most miles on their tour buses. But all four acts thrilled the crowd with abbreviated sets of hits and a few lesser-known tracks.
After a DJ set by New York legend Chuck Chillout, De La Soul took the stage. They thanked the audience for sticking with them since their classic 1989 debut, 3 Feet High And Rising, and gave respect to the other artists on the bill (a common theme throughout the night — everyone thanked the audience for decades of support and gave props to the other acts sharing the stage). It would have been easy for them to stick with their debut — and they did play some of that album, including "Buddy" and "Me, Myself And I" — but later material like "Oooh" and "Stakes Is High" made appearances as well. They were also joined by Dres from Black Sheep for, of course, "The Choice Is Yours." more on this story