As I mentioned here before, I think, I spent 1999 to 2004 in a tiny rural town called Chicken Switch, MO. I think one time an AOI-era De La Soul came to campus, but I didn't bother to attend due to a sheer lack of interest. Otherwise though, there weren't any hip-hop groups coming within a 300 mile radius of that bitch. We didn't even get BET.

I always figured once I got out of school I'd try to catch more live shows, especially hip-hop concerts. Slowly but surely, I've been making progress. This year alone I've seen Ghostface twice, dead prez, the Streets (they count, right?), Lupe Fiasco, Rhymefest, Cage, Mr. Lif, and a few others. And all for free, I might add. You see kids, it really does pay to stay at home all day drinking Natural Light and cracking blow job jokes over the Internet.

A couple of times now I've tried to go see the Roots, but the shit's always sold out. In fact, I wonder if this is not the real reason you don't see more black people at these shows. It's just not in a black man's nature to drop $60 on a concert three weeks in advance. Three weeks after the fact, maybe. If only someone would come up with a way to put a pair of concert tickets in your kid's name. Shit, we could probably save hip-hop.

Admittedly, I'm as guilty of this as anyone else. This time I figured I would cop tickets in advance, but I still ended up waiting until this Monday. And of course the shit was already sold out by then. This time though I just ended up hollering at my people in okayplayer, with whom I'm tight like "this" - a relationship rivaled only by my bond with my baby's mother Tit-ra Henley[1]. I ended up getting backstage passes and everything.

What's left of the Pharcyde opened up, but I'll spare you reporting on that since I doubt anyone gives a shit. Talib Kweli was also listed as an opening act, but rather than coming on before the Roots, he did a brief set sort of in between the Roots' set, probably while ?uestlove was in the back checking his MySpace. It really is true what everyone says about Talib Kweli, though I'll admit to liking quite a few songs in his catalog. Sorry.

Black Star and Reflection Eternal = nails.

Speaking of groups whose best albums came out a long time ago, I was excited to finally see the Roots live. They've long been considered the very best live band in hip-hop. They may even be the only live band in hip-hop, but that's neither here nor there. They've got a new album, which, if you can imagine, won't be out for over a month, still. But if it fails miserably, it certainly won't be for a lack of effort.

The Roots went on promptly at, I don't know, maybe a quarter after or 9:30 - actually, when I was expecting Talib Kweli to come on and do his "thing" for a half an hour or so. The show kicked off with "Boom" (I think) and several of those other songs from the past couple albums that all kinda sound like "Boom." I guess since it was, after all, released as a single, they did "Don't Say Nuthin'," a song I don't think anyone really likes. Its cousin, "Don't Feel Right," may have also happened during that first mini-set.

In general, the night was big on songs from the last album, the Tipping Point, and the upcoming Game Theory. Which I suppose makes sense, but of course if given a choice, I would've preferred to hear more of their older stuff. I could be mistaken, but I don't think they did anything at all off of Illadelph Halflife. Neither Malik B nor any of their other weed carriers were anywhere to be found, which would've made doing some of those older songs difficult. I guess they felt like they had better things to do...

The show ended on a strong note with a ridonkulous extended version of "You Got Me," with guitar player Captain Kirk doing the Erykah Badu part (nullus), and that thing they do where they play bits and pieces from a bunch of different hit songs. Last's night's version included TI's "Why You Wanna," Yung Joc's "It's Going Down," a bunch of older rap shit, and ?uestlove's take on Jacko's "Smooth Criminal," which was just insane.

Speaking of which, I got to holler at the Roots drummer for a bit after the show. For whatever reason, the dude's mom (whom Dallas Penn would appreciate) was there. I introduced myself as "a writer," and she was like, "Yeah, my son says you're his favorite writer." Then ?uestlove himself started telling me about some of my other celebrity fans, which I'm sure none of you 'bags would believe if I told you. Suffice it to say that I heard all kinds of interesting tales from the Def Jam building.

[1] Sorry, I had to do that just once. I promise I won't do it again. I don't think.