The first annual Hip Hop Live tour brought Seattle my idea of a perfect Hip Hop Show. The nights headliner was hiphop pioneer Rakim. He followed opening acts Ghostface Killa (Wu Tang Clan), as well as the extremely talented rising star Brother Ali, all of whom were backed by an amazing live band.
The Rhythm Roots Allstars are a 10-piece band from LA that laid down all of the artists beats, ranging from legendary RZA produced Ghostface tracks to the acclaimed Rhymesayers producer ANTs beats from Brother Ali's records. Ali definitely didn't appear to be the first thing you'd associate with hip hop. Although he may look slightly odd onstage at first glance, the Albino MC from Minneapolis isn't some gimmick. He has lived for hiphop and his amazing presence will always win over even the most skeptical of crowds; he had the Showbox alive and chanting "Ali," regardless of the long lines to get in. The opener had everyone hyped and ready for a night of amazing live music that stays true to the hiphop he grew up loving.
Ali offered his own personal storys of discovering the music of Rakim/Wu Tang Clan, whom he now found himself opening for. My personal favorites of the night were the fiery track "Uncle Sam Goddamn" off of his latest album and the much happier/humorous anthem of self confidence, "Forrest Whitiker."
Ghostface Killa was a blast to watch onstage. For someone with so much material (over five solo albums excluding the Wu Tang Clan Material) he did a good job of giving fans what they wanted. He definitely enjoyed himself on stage and made the night special for many of his female fans when he invited them all onstage. Although seeing nearly the entire Wu-Tang Clan perform this year at Bumbershoot was something that will always be hard to top, Tony Starks is always a pleasure to experience live.
The show headliner needed no introduction. Any real fan of hip-hop knows his music well and his sound is as fresh today as it was in the early 90s. Rakim has iconic status in the hip-hop world and he gave younger fans a chance to experience a time and music they only wish they could of been a part of. Ra performed a few new tracks off his upcoming release but none could top my favorites "Paid in Full" and "Dont Sweat the Technique."
Rhythm Roots band turned that room out and brought a life to the songs I hadn't yet experienced. Today, the masses hear "Aye Bay Bay" and the other commercial garbage that gets mis-labeled as hip-hop. Sometimes people lose site of what hip-hop was about and the legendary music that helped define and still helps inspire. The Hip Hop Live Tour lived up to all the hype with a rare chance to experience legendary MC's backed by an allstar live band.