Ice-T, Chuck D, Melle Mel & Raekwon, Hammersmith Apollo, London
Friday 20 July 2012
As they say in the US, "game recognises game" - and hip-hoppers rarely hesitate to bestow honour upon its pioneers for teaching those next in line a thing or two - especially those who are doing it so well. So there's moments tonight when, despite being age-mates, Public Enemy's venerable Chuck D pays tribute to the legendary Melle Mel, calling him "teacher" ("You snatched the pedal out of my hand son!" Mel shouts back, beaming). Later, the PE frontman nods like a proud dad as he watches fellow New Yorker Raekwon take his turn on the mike - and when the latter introduces "the man of the hour, my brother, your brother" Ice-T, you can't help notice the smallest gesture of respect.
They're an unlikely quartet, each representing a unique period in the genre's chequered evolution - but they show that when hip-hop comes together in one accord, it's a beautiful family affair.
On the surface of it, this brief 45-minute gig is just a plug for Ice T's new hip-hop memorial Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap, but it has its merits. The artists are all zealous ambassadors for the part they've played in the scenes 30-odd year story, with Melle Mel's being the pimp of the party, rocking the hat and suit to match.
As the first act of the night, he starts us off with the obligatory call and response, before energetically laying into his famous hit The Message then skilfully reeling off the opening lines from songs by Kurtis Blow, Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock and even Naughty By Nature's OPP. He then finishes off with a snippet of his guest spot on Grandmaster Flash's White Lines before demanding the hyped crowd to say "yeeeeeeeeeeea!".
He's followed by Chuck D - who always makes Fight The Power sound relevant, and delivers new song I Shall Not Be Moved, a vitriol targeted at the present state of society. He's more of a languid performer Chuck, so when Wu Tang's Raekwon bounds onto the stage 10 minutes later, with a surprise appearance from his colleague Ghostface Killah, it feels like the crowd is treated to a mini-concert, and roars their appreciation accordingly.
A performance of C.R.E.A.M by the younger pair is the riotous centrepiece of the night - that is, until Ice-T steps onto the stage near the end of the proceedings, with a set which proves he's still as gangsta as he was in the 90s. When he raps "I'm an old school nigga, greying hair...still have you killed from a wheelchair", you can't help but believe him.
By the end, we're treated to a surprise performance from the Hijack - a Brixton MC from back in the day who was a worthy rep for the UK side of things, making tonight feel like one of those proud reunions that should happen in hip-hop more often- and hopefully off the back of this new doc, it will.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 2 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 3 Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
- 4 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
- 5 Refugee crisis: Aylan's life was full of fear - in death, he is part of 'humanity washed ashore'
The real reason Eddie Redmayne was cast as a trans woman in The Danish Girl
First Look at Bryan Cranston transformed into LBJ for HBO’s ‘All the Way’ film
Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
This little boy loves books so much that he cries when his mother stops reading to him
Prog rock finally comes of age with launch of the first Official Progressive Chart
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up