Bimbo's 365 | San Francisco, CA | 05.21.02
In the old-school way the DJ was on stage toying with the audience, asking us who we want to hear: “When I say Blacka, u say licious... Blacka... .” The audience roared a deafening “LICIOUS!”, and with the wail of the crowd out came our gracious hosts for the evening. Chief Xcel cued up the turntables and the bass-line began bumping as the Gift of Gab, master of ceremonies, embarked an adrenaline-injected delivery of “Paragraph President” that would have made George Jr.’s head burst. With Lateef the Truth Speaker (of Quannum Project’s Latyrx), four singin-they-ass-off heads in the back (Joya in the house), they ripped thru the first few songs like gift wrapping on xmas morning, jiving on “Clockwork,” “First in Flight” and “Make You Feel that Way.”
With a layer of steam emanating above the canopy of the sold-out room, so began the singaz chant, “Money ain't gonna change us,” and the audience lit up like a cherry bomb as Xcel bumped the beats and Gab educated on the subject of “Deception” (the first single off Nia), and so the entropy continued with no turning back. So I ask u: what would a Quannum Projects show be without Lyrics Born, the Asian-born, MC Wilson Picket, gravel growl soul man? Lyrics Born jumped on stage and made me temporarily forget about DJ Shadow as the Quannums ignited “Do This My Way” and assorted hits from the vault; “It’s a beautiful thing this musical thing.”
The Putah Creek Power Men represented, resuscitating life with one DJ and a jam session; once Solesides, now it’s Quannum’s time, and represent they did. A verbal war between Gab and Lateef ensued as each took turns with only the microphone and audience to deliberate on the current state. Gab ebbed and flowed, raged and loved, the Truth Speaker never fell behind, hands in the air; it was a battle cry. The ocean swelled, the mountains began to divide, the foundation of the dance floor shook as each MC destroyed the eminence front of lies and deceit, creating space for love. Running with the mic, Joya Velarde stepped out front and glowed like a lightbulb of love, gently caressing one of the songs from her upcoming Quannum release and leading the voices thru "If I may" (Nia). Joya, Joya, Joya... The evening included both an English lesson ("Alphabet Olympics") and a Chemistry lesson ("Chemical Calistenics") that had Gab speeding up and slowing down like a NASCAR driver over Cut Chemist creations. Introduced by Gab as part of the extended Quannum family (see the guestlist for Blazing Arrow), Radioactive came thru with his one man/one beatbox performance that begged the question: who needs Pro Tools?
By the end of the evening when the Quannum crew, Radioactive,and others took the stage for the encore, I reminisced about the day when hip hop shows were not just about the performer and the endless stage dressing and dance crews, but about the artists and their audience and a mutually inclusive feeling of love. A day when Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash and KRS rocked the house party in an old-school way. At the end of the evening Gab thanked the crowd because, as he said, “everything comes from something, and without the one thing, the other does not exist.” Today the new school is the old school; welcome to the hip-hop generation.
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