On Monday night I found myself, yet again, walking up the winding staircase at the Commodore Ballroom. A feeling of nineties nostalgia washed over me as I gazed through the crowd and saw what you could only call a gangsta reunion. The baggy jeans, over-sized t-shirts, boxed ball caps, and flashy chains were as far as the eye could see. This was how I could tell I was at an Ice Cube concert.
The opening act was a DJ by the name The Freshest, and his name said it all. The music he was spinning was the freshest, classic rap and r&b you could think of. With hit after hit pounded through the house. Tracks like Slippin by DMX, or Player’s Holiday by Too Short were well accepted by the audience, and had them ready to party, from the first beat. This DJ was slick and quick, swapping out vinyl like it was a race.
The group in attendance was eager. More so than your usual Monday night concert go-er. By the looks of them they were big fans, that had waited a long time for an evening like this to present itself. Very few of them took their time pounding back those drinks. It seemed like the perfect storm for something intense, aggressive and, for lack of a better term, off the hook.
As the lights were washed away by the darkness, the DJ could be seen wheeling his tables off the stage. After a bit a waiting, and some overwrought screaming from the fueled up mob, it was time. Ice Cube and his three man crew stepped to the stage. It was like stepping back in time. A time when pants were baggier, and clothing had less metallic inks.
Right off the bat their was a bit of a technical dilemma, as the power to the turntable was accidentally disabled. O’Shea Jackson, Ice Cube’s birth name, left the stage and announced he would “Come back out and try that shit again”. That was the single fault in an otherwise perfect set. The rest of the performance was seamless, and flowed perfectly. Jackson, strutted around like a mad man, spitting fire and sporting the most glitter adorned Chuck Taylor Converse I have ever seen (check em out). This man has lost nothing over the years. If anything he has become more refined in his delivery and presentation.
The night was filled with the hits you would hope to hear when seeing this rap titan live:
Life In California
Natural Born Killaz
Jack N The Box
A History Of Violence
Check Yo Self
Drink The Kool-Aid
Why We Thugs
You Know Me
Go To Church
You Can Do It
We Be Clubbin’
It Was A Good Day
She Couldn’t Make It On Her Own
I Rep That West
Too West Coast
I would consider myself to be a casual fan of this genre of music in my day to day. Someone who enjoys it as background noise. Maybe a as a sort of soundtrack. But during a live presentation, it really blows you away. I was taken back many times, at the amount of skill it took to maintain the show. The vocal control, the rhythm, the fierce pace at which Ice Cube was moving on stage, and it was all pulled together so seamlessly. On top of that, this was one of the most high energy shows I have seen in a while. The eagerness of the fans and the delivery of the performer added to one another multiplying the experience. Ice Cube had that crowd bumping in perfect time. He is a true master of his craft.