it took me a while to make an appearance but only the almighty zeus (or in this case consistent reminders from this site's founder)can summon the kraken...
I saw The Roots for the first time last Saturday at a buzzing (both literally and figuratively), sold out Bogart's. Fresh off the release of Phrenology (slowly growing to be my favorite in their robust canon), the okayplayer crew lived up to their reputation as hip hop's premier live performers. Opening with Rock You from the new album, the Roots did exactly that for the next two hours.
Their organic brand of hip hop, deeply inspired by the funk and jazz giants of the 70's, thrives in the live show environment. Black Thought is as commanding an MC as there is in the biz. The rest of the crew showed great pride in playing their instruments as each member sprinkled the set with lengthy solos. My favorite being Lenny Flynt's bass solo. Guitarist Ben Kenney filled in admirably for the guest vocalists Musiq on Break You Off and Nelly Furtado on Sacrifice.
Things hit a little bit of lull at the midway point when Skillz took over for the mic. His three or four song interlude was laced with jabs at P Diddy and the rest of the hip hop status quo. Not the most the exciting stuff but you take the good with the bad.
The show picked back up in a hurry when Cody ChestnuTT (whose opening act I missed) came back on stage to perform the high energy, neosoul jam The Seed 2.0. This was with a doubt the climax of the show.
The Roots ended by striking a few familiar b-boy poses in a tribute to the late Jam Master Jay.
Maybe it was all the second hand pot smoke, maybe I'm a sucker for the live instruments, but I'm pretty sure this was the best hip hop show I've seen to date.
In a show I caught later in the week, the Bronx's DJ Logic brought his solo spin session to the Mad Frog near UC. The hip hop jazz fusion pioneer had the college kiddies dancing and pumping their fists for a good two and half hours. He warned the crowd at the outset by saying "I don't say much" and lived true to his word. I would've like a little more crowd interaction and stage presence. That aside, his magic with the turntables had me hungry to see him with his 5 piece band Project Logic. Overall a good first impression.