Producer and DJ, J. Period has a track record that can’t be denied. He knows what joints are Party starters. He has the vernacular of musicology that in both inter generational, transcends race/ social class and sonically verbose. Alas he is the last of a dying breed of musician (yes, this writer believes djs are musicians) that can rock any crowd, but has chosen to be faithful to the cultural roots that wooed him into the soil of Hip-Hop. Without a doubt, he is unapologetically down with the classics and clearly effing with true spitkickers.
So when the announcement was made he was doing a mixtape with three of rap musical giants, Pharoahe Monch, Black Thought and Rakim, fans were certain that history was gonna be made.
And it was…
Black Moon’s dj, Evil Dee warmed the crowd up with classics during his super energized set. People from every walk of life danced and sang/rapped to the 80’s and 90’s hits as each breakbeat took you back to The Tunnel, Red Zone or the Limelight.
When the Voice of God assured the restlessly anxious audience that the show would start in 10 minutes, folk got giddy. Edging their way to the front, their faces anticipated the magic that these three emcees on one stage promised. And then it happened… Right before our eyes the whole energy shifted (which is what concerts are supposed to do… shifted the energy of the fan).
Pharoahe Monch hopped on the stage spitting hits from his Organized Konfusion days, as well as his Rawkus tenure. Monch is one of the most underrated emcees around (people get caught in his lyricism to give him the props for being so explosive on stage). In his set, he introduced a talented goddess of a sister named Maimouna Youssef (aka MuMu Fresh) who remained on and off set all night lending her majestic vocals and rhyme styling to the magic of the evening.
As his set ended, Smif-N-Wessun took center stage. Scratch that, they took the stage and shot up the place with a furry of hits that made The Cocoa Brovaz the jewel of the Duck Down massive. Bombastic describes their performance. Bold and blatantly Brooklyn rude boy. Steele with his playful showmanship and. Tek with his rugged grasp of wordplay kept cheers intermixing w J. Period’s clever reconstruction of these classic jams.
But despite how mega Smif-N-Wessun’s set was, their moment was topped by Dres from Black Sheep who single handedly mesmerized The crowd with only two joints. Did you hear me… only two joints.
From the time that “For a second, I reckon, I got ya double checking… Then again when to your needs did I beckon?” the people lost their minds. It had been so long since anyone has seen Dres rock the mic and he did not disappoint. The sing songy verses in “Flavor Of The Month” of this 90s joint did not lose any of the razzle dazzle after 20 years. Dres also has not rusted (though noticeably grey). By the time he got to “The Choice is Yours,” the audience became orgasmic. But like a teasing lover…. he was not satisfied with how the crowd held back on their climax.
In disbelief the shouted out that the crowd was missing what was really happening… that this was history… and gave some an out for being too young to appreciate the mandatory choreography that goes with the chorus and pulled Chi Ali out to do a complete rewind. After rewinding, the start up was the blast that he was itching to get. “Engine. Engine. Number 9. On the New York transit line. If my train goes off the track… pick it up, pick it up, pick it up!” The place went crazy. The show could have ended there and we would have been happy… especially since he had a special guest hype man, an adult Chi Ali.
Sensory overload started to set in. Thank God for artist Peekaso, who right before our eyes, painted a portrait of Pharoahe Monch, Black Thought and Rakim. His gifts allowed us an organic alternative that help folk catch their breaths and collect their minds after being so caught up in the ecstatic cornucopia curated by J. Period.
Black Thought was next up on the live mixtape experience. Sans the Roots crew, he pushed out joints after joints. But what made him knock heavy was his tribute to old school forefathers that influenced. A true emcee knows when to pull those kinds of tricks out the bag to give his fans something new and innovative. There must be something in the Schuylkill Punch, because each word had the same intensity as his legendary freestyle on Flex. Plus… he was fly… them boots my “g.” Out of his performance his imitation of the late great Guru’s voice was breathtaking. As an engaged Yasiin Bey watch from behind J. Period who was getting busy on the tables and beat machines, Tariq gave a performance that displayed lyricism, showmanship and crowd control. It was so good, it should have solidified him in your top 5 greatest rappers ever.
By this time, the artist Peekaso’s masterpiece was almost complete.
This meant only one thing: Rakim is about to have church. Dressed in the most buttered blinged-out Pelle Pelle, he epitomized what we believe is 1980’s street hustle. Performing (what could be said is) the diamond dusted soundtrack of a certain segment of Hip-Hop, the venue quaked with headnodding, neck-wopping GenXers. The crowd erupted when he brought out his partner in crime, Eric B. Rakim really didn’t have to do that much work because the audience showed so much love, recited his rhymes for it. For many, just having him there was enough. People wanted to give back the love that he has give through lyric and rhyme for so many years. Rakim is said to be on everyone’s rap Mt. Rushmore. Nas has said that he influenced him. Few people will say that his rhyme pattern did not influence them. J. Period’s live mixtape showcased why. Rakim is simply the greatest rapper to ever touch the mic.
When the live mixtape drops fans who weren’t there, will experience much more than a good album. They will feel what it felt like to live through 1988 – 1999, during an era of rap when giants where born. J. Period, you did it again.