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Live: Hip-Hop @ Pitchfork ’08

I just got back from having spent the weekend in Chicago, and I feel like Elie Wiesel after he escaped from the Holocaust (my feet are sore as shit), so I’m gonna have to keep this brief.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “Bol, you just did a half-assed post the other day with the excuse that you were busy traveling. And once you factor in the weekend, it’s been something like a year and a half since you put any real effort into this shit.”

Um, my bad.

Also you might be thinking: “Bol, I heard that book Night is just as full of shit as that James Frey book. But the reason you don’t really hear about it is because they figure, hell, the guy survived the Holocaust; to call him a fraud, even if he is, would just be wrong.”

Well, I heard that, too, but I wasn’t sure if it was real or if I’ve just been reading the wrong websites. (Which I’m sure I have been.) Let’s just pretend I didn’t bring that up. My bad, Jews, even if I’m right about this.

Anyhoo, I’m gonna spare you fruits too much discussion of the various non-hip-hop acts I caught this weekend at the Pitchfork Music Festival, or the amount of beer I drank, or the wild and crazy nights I spent sleeping at the Y. Nullus. Maybe I’ll touch on that stuff later on my own site.

But I figured I’d go ahead and let you all know about the few hip-hop acts I caught this weekend. At the very least, It will save me from having to come up with anything else this late in the afternoon.

(Sidebar: I was talking to this guy on the bus ride back, and he was saying the Chicago leg of Rock the Bells, which was also this weekend, was really good. He said Phife missed the first few songs of Tribe’s set, but eventually he came out. Nullus?)

Public Enemy

I went into a bit more depth than I’m gonna go into here on my own site the other day. Buy basically, I felt like PE was a bit of a disappointment.

They were doing It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back as part of promoter All Tomorrow’s Parties’ Don’t Look Back series of concerts where groups will play a classic album in its entirety, and I’m thinking it might have been a better idea on paper than it was in Chicago.

Because Nation of Millions is… you know, a classic… there’s a number of songs on it that have become staples of PE’s live show. But there’s also a few songs on it that obviously haven’t, for a reason. Namely, the fact that they kinda suck. Or at least they aren’t as good as the likes of “Don’t Believe the Hype” and “Rebel without a Pause.”

So we got to hear a bunch of crap like that, plus they also played those interludes they only put on the album in the first place to make sides A and B equal length, for cassette tapes, in their entirety. As if anyone would have cried foul if they didn’t. They also stopped in between each track to ramble on about shit no one cared about and trivia everyone alread read 20 years ago.

For example, did you know that side B of Nation of Millions was originally gonna be side A, but then Hank Shocklee switched them at the last minute, because he wanted the beginning of the album to have more bass in it? Well, now you do, you fucking ’90s baby.

Then, once Nation of Millions was over, they did another hour or so that I thought was way cooler. They even did that song from He Got Game. Bonus!

Dizzee Rascal

Dizzee Rascal seemed oddly upset for no apparent reason. And all of his songs kinda sounded the same to me except for the Billy Squier one. Which would have been way cooler, if he would have brought out Roxanne Shante, but of course he didn’t. It goes to show what he knows about American hip-hop. What’s a rap concert where someone doesn’t get brought out? It’s almost like a rap concert where no one grabs their nuts. Nullus.

Raekwon and Ghostface

Raekwon and Ghostface ended up being an hour or so late, because they’re black, but there wasn’t any announcement or anything. I went to the stage where they were gonna be – the main stage – and some old guy came out at the last minute and said that Rae and Ghostface were going on the smaller stage, back behind the row of porta potties, an hour late. The Dodos were going on the main stage instead. I should have known something was up when I saw some hippie setting up a xylophone. I don’t know what I was thinking.

So I went over behind the porta potties and saw some obnoxious African jam band, who I think went on for a while longer to cover for Rae and Ghostface. And then some motherfucking weed carriers came out and warmed things up for a good 10 minutes worth of Rae and Ghostface’s set, despite the fact that they were already playing an abbreviated festival set. The fuck?

Not cool at all, weed carriers. Not cool at all.

Also, Rae and Ghostface didn’t really have any set planned out. J Love, Ghostface’s n-bomb-dropping tour DJ, would just play classic Wu joints on Serato and Rae and Ghostface would rap over them for a couple of minutes. Sometimes, they wouldn’t even necessarily be songs either of them rapped on. So they’d just rap over Inspector Deck’s part or whatever. If they would have done a better job of preparing, I’m sure they could have found a good hour’s worth of songs with the two of them.

Not unlike the PE set, the Rae and Ghostface set ended up being a somewhat more lame version of a regular Ghostface set. It was nice that Raekwon was there and all, but he isn’t actually much of a live rapper. He just doesn’t have the wind for it. So you’d find yourself sitting through his parts to get to the next Ghostface part. Also, I’m not gonna lie. I was upset that Ghostface didn’t do that thing where he does “Cher Chez La Ghost” and had a bunch of chicks from the audience come up and shake it. There was a lot of cleavage on display this weekend. That could have been one hell of a show.

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