Speaking of returns..I gotta chance to peep Rakim the other night..last Sunday every hip hop head in the Bay Area converged upon Marintime Hall in San Francisco to watch hip hop's most revered emcee..All the opening acts got busy.. Some had live bands.. others came with nice shows.. The tone was set for the lyrical God..
Before the R hit the stage.. the capacity crowd heard the opening riffs come off the turntables which were manned by dj/manger Bill Blast... It was the same cue used by DJ Cash Money in his song The Mighty Hard Rocker..All of a sudden the bass drops and 'It's Been A Long Time' starts playing.. The entire crowd goes berserk.. Rakim hits the stage with the fury of a tiger and starts shredding the microphone.. I haven't seen a crowd this hyped since KRS-One.. The building is literally shaking because everyone is bouncing... Just when you thought the crowd couldn't get more hyped.. The beat for 'My Melody' drops.. and it goes to another level.. I'm watching Rakim pace back and forth..his two hype men getting busy and then I notice the unthinkable.. I hear Rakim's vocals.. But his mike is nowhere near his face... I look again to see if he has a lapel mic.. or if I'm just hearing the pre-recorded chorus to his song.. Nope I'm hearing the 1986 vocals as clear as day to My Melody and not the '98 version of with Rakim mouthing them.. Yes, folks the brother was lip synching...
Someone to my left mentions that he too notices The R is lip synching..An informed looking head replies that Rakim doesn't have instrumentals to all his old stuff.. Ok I'll buy that.. even though I have an instrumental copy of My melody in my collection.. It was first released on Zakia records.. However, song after song followed and with each passing song Rakim either rapped bits or pieces over them.. or just straight up lip synched.. The crowd didn't seem to care.. Because hit after hit kept rolling off the dat... Me I kept asking myself how the hell is the best emcee in hip hop gonna sit there and lip synch..
I was hoping to find that Rakim was sick.. perhaps he had a bad throat infection and he was courageously trying to do the show so as not to disappoint the fans.. Such was not the case.. His smooth voice had a lot to say in between songs.. He wasn't ill....Rakim later busted a lack luster freestyle in the middle of all the lipsynching and then went right back to mouthing over one of his classics..Heck when Puffy and Mase rolled through town a few months back.. They didn't lip synch.. Run DMC was in town the night before at The Sound Factory and they didn't lip synch.. They gotz busy... Gang Starr was in town the night before.. Guru came on my show and ripped freestyles.. There was no lip synching there. Seeing Rakim do this was like going to heaven and finding out that God smokes crack.. I was disappointed.... Not so much with Rakim.. as I was with hip hop's current state of affairs..Rakim came out of a day and time when hip hop demanded that you know how to perform.. Heck the brotha dropped a classic song called 'Move The Crowd'...The thing that struck me was the crowd remained hyped for his entire set...The folks were like.. 'this is Rakim and he can do what he wants..' This fallacy didn't seem to matter much...Oh well it's not a perfect world.. Am I asking for too much..Let me know what you think about this..: firstname.lastname@example.org
What's up Dave? I too was at the Ra show and I saw the lip sync business. I guess I didn't care that much either. Just seeing Rakim and the energy caused everyone to go into a panic. It was a real dope show. My girl Laura Giles from Patchwerk records saw him the day before in LA and also said he was lip synching. I don't know what is up with that. I too thought that he didn't have all the instrumentals or something. I guess he just thinks he doesn't have to do it live now. But you saw the crowd, I mean it was the most hyped I had seen a crowd since the KRS show and that crowd was really hyped.
We've had Common through here, Kool Kieth, the Liks, Organized Konfusion, The Whoridas, Keith Murray, Hiero, Busta and none of them got the crowd as open as a lip synching Ra did. That Rakim show gave me a "we may never see this again here" type feeling. I think that the crowd felt the same way. I grew up on that cat and seeing him live was kinda a dream. And even though he was lip synching it was one of the better shows I have seen in my 21 years.
Hi Davey D,
I haven't been as excited for a show as I was for Rakim's in a long time. And when he came out lip synching (seemed more like quietly rapping) to vocal mixes of everything, I couldn't beleive it! It wrecked it entirely for me. I also couldn't beleive no one there seemed to care. The first thing I thought was that he couldn't dig up instrumentals to his old stuff, but I have most of them on vinyl. Plus, I'd rather hear him rap over new instrumentals than what he was doing.
I SAW RAKIM BACK IN NOV. OR DEC. OF '97 IN PITTSBURGH PA. AND HE DID THE SAME
THING. I WAS MAD DISSAPOINTED, BECAUSE OF THE FACT THE GOD HAD NEVER DID A
SHOW IN PITTSBURGH. THIS SHOW HAD A 12 YEAR BUILD UP TO WERE I THOUGHT IT WAS
GOING THE BEST SHOW IN THE WORLD. HE DIDN'T HAVE A LIVE BAND. THE GOD HAD A
D.J. WACKER THAN ERIC B. SPININNG, AND ALEAST 5 HYPE MEN AND LEAST 50 OTHER
PEOPLE STANDING ON THE STAGE WHILE HE WAS RYHMING OVER THE ORIGINAL TRACK
WORD FOR WORD THIS SUCK. THIS MADE ME FEEL THAT THE GOD WAS BACK TO GET THE
DOUGH HE NEVER GOT IN '86 AND NOT TO BACK THE ART OF M.C.ING. I FELT I WAS
THE ONLY PERSON TO NOTICE THIS BECAUSE THE CROWD WAS GOING BANNANAS. OVER ALL
THE SHOW WAS MAD WEAK AND I LEFT WANTING MY $ 20 DOLLARS BACK. I DON'T KNOW
BUT COULDN'T HE GET THE INSTRUMENTALS RECORED ON DAT. BUT ANYWAY PEACE KEEP
UP THE GOOD WORK.
I was at this same show. I was psyched up for a whole week about
to this (I was looping both discs of The 18th Letter as prep).
special to me, because his rhymes are pure poetry ("rap is rhythm
poetry/cuts create sound effects/you might catch up/if you follow
records he wrecks"), he doesn't swear (because true power, IMNSHO,
language doesn't need it), etc. My whole image was shattered by
concert. My friend said it was like we were listening to the K-tel
sampler of Rakim (he would do 2 or 3 verses of his older jams and
then go on to the next one).
Blessings, Brother. Hannibal Tabu here, a writer for some of the ragz and
"Seeing Rakim do this
was like going to heaven and finding out that God smokes crack."
Go Back Letter's To The Editor Directory
this site is produced by Davey D in association with eLine Productions