Tuesday night in NYC is the best night of the week. If there isn’t some entertainment industry party offering a top shelf open bar, what I like to call O-Bamas, there is a rap music showcase hosted at the venerable nightclub S.O.B.’s. This spot has been around since I was a little dude. I can’t even enumerate all the parties I have been to in the space and the people I have seen perform in this shoebox size venue. I will go in for a second though since It makes me feel good to reminisce. The Roots, Common, The Ohio Players, Game Rebellion, DeLa Soul, PharOAHE Monch, Gil Scot-Heron, The Fugees and last night, Joell Ortiz.
I haven’t seen Joell Ortiz perform live since he opened up the Zune concert in Brooklyn. That joint was crazy bananas. Boot Camp Clik, The Lox, and Brand Nubians (incl. Grand Puba) performed while the show was headlined by LL Cool J. What I took from that show was that after all of these years LL Cool J still loves to get on stage and rap. His set was forty minutes long and he never stopped bouncing across the stage. I’m amped to see what concerts jump off here this summer.
The show last night was headlined by Joell Ortiz, but he had a lineup filled with guest spots from up and coming rappers and ‘hood legends. Skyzoo, who likes to refer to himself as S-K, not to be confused with the legendary Eskay from Nah’Right. Incidentally, Eskay might be more influential to rap music than 93.75% of the rappers in the music business right now. Why else do you think so many rappers are creating blogs?
There was Don Cerino, Emilio Rojas, J the S and a rapper from South Carolina named Dan Johns. And for good measure, your favorite blogger’s favorite rapper C-Rayz Walz got on the mic for a mini set. Hip-Hop was in the building for sure. You could smell it in the atmosphere. Even underground rappers on the come up have their own weedcarriers. Boston’s own J the S had his entourage hold him down on stage and back in the green room. Now I see why they call that space the ‘green’ room.
Dan Johns, the dude from South Carolina, is cut from the cloth of rappers who put their lyrics before them as a representation of their true life. Sometimes the reality of struggling through adversity and poverty with humility and nobility is a lost set of values. Dan Johns dealt with adversity on stage as well when his set was interrupted by sound system glitches. To his credit he can actually freestyle and he delivered 16 bars off the top of his dome before an audience that was seeing him for the first time. That was Hip-Hop.
J the S, also known as Jake the Snake hails from Beantown and he had a nice little set with his W.C. repping with him as well as a backup singer. Honestly, I didn’t see too much of dude because I was in the green room, er, greening myself. Drugs are bad boys and girls.
I caught C-Rayz on stage. That nigga is crazy. He is like the Richard Pryor of this rap shit. Catch him at a show if you can. I missed the other acts too and I’m not really sure why. I was doing some videotaping for the iNternets Celebrities or DallasPenn dot com. Depending on how the video comes together will determine which site hosts the final cut. Lots of shit goes down at a live Hip-Hop show and you have to run around like you have rollerblades on your feet if you want to catch everything.
I got a chance to see Skyzoo for the first time. He’s a good guy, but damn if he doesn’t favor Jay-Z almost to the point that Memphis Bleek will catch some feelings. Skyzoo’s cadence and his onstage idiosyncrasies matched Jay to the tee. I suppose you could do a whole lot worse for yourself if you wanted to copy someone’s swagger. I know Skyzoo has a ridiculous buzz so he needs to keep working on his own steez to stay around in this business. Sonn did bbust my head with the fact that he is releasing his latest album on iTunes. Young rappers have wised up finally to the fact that record labels are dinosaurs about to be dead. Good for him.
The part of the night that the entire crowd came for was upon us. Joell Ortiz might be the most lyrically gifted rapper in the game right now. He certainly matches Black Thought with his ability to spit complex verses at various speeds and levels. Joell ran through his hits like ‘Brooklyn’, ‘Hip-Hop’, ‘and 125 Grams’, but the loudest applause came for his version of ‘Latino’. The crowd at S.O.B.’s was overwhelmingly latino and Joell’s Block Royal family came through deep as well. Joell did a few new joints that we heard recently as well as a brand new banger scheduled for the ‘Free Agent Mixtape’ project.
If you aren’t fucking with Joell Ortiz by now I suggest you hang yourself with a pair of pantyhose for the shower head in your parent’s house basement like that dude did in ‘A Soldier and a Gentleman’. Okay, I take that back. XXL Mag dot com’s acceptable use policy states that I am no longer to give people medical advice. Still and all, fucking with Joell Ortiz is good for your health. The ‘Free Agent Mixtape’ will feature Joell Ortiz and some of the most talented rappers in the game right now. Talib Kweli will be on the that joint too.
Things are looking up right now for Joell Ortiz and that makes me happy for dude. He comes from the bottom, but his dedication and his work ethic keep him rising to the top. After the show Joell told me something crazy. “It takes at least ten years of blood, sweat and tears for you to become an overnight success.”
Congrats my dude.