Are Live Cover Versions Just Filler?

Ghostface live, huh? Yeah, that shit was quality. It featured everything you’d hope for from a Starks’ set – an overpowering smell of weed surrounding the stage, winning live renditions of ‘Nutmeg’, ‘Run’ and ‘Mighty Healthy’, Ghost diddy-bopping around like an excited kid who just ate a bag of candy and….a bunch of cover versions? Sure, a musical tribute to the late, great Ol’ Dirty Bastard and nods of respect to GZA and ‘em are understandable, but when Ghost launched into non-Wu covers, I was puzzled. Why is half of the Theodore Unit performing Pharcyde‘s ‘Passin’ Me By’? With seven official solo albums under his belt, plus all the Wu-Tang and Theodore stuff, it’s not like Pretty Toney is short of material, so why throw a Biggie cover in there, of all people? It’s not just GFK that I’ve seen do this, this techniques seems to have become as much a part of the modern rap set as trying to determine which side of the room is “more live” and asking us if we like that “real hip-hop”.

Do you feel ripped off when an MC performs other rapper’s songs on stage?

Ghost performing a similar set in Berlin, Germany 3 weeks ago:

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22 Comments so far
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Ripped off? By that gig? Yes. There is nothing wrong with performing songs, start to finish. Your own (very very good) songs. From your vast catalogue. To a room full of people who would mostly (I hope) appreciate it.

Comment by taylem 06.29.09 @

yeh it was definitely pretty weird the other night how he did that. another thing was how he started the beat to some of his classics like the juks but would stop the beat just as his verse was about to start. dope gig though.

Comment by pete 06.29.09 @

Blame the bloody Roots – doing a live set largely based around cover versions allows Rolling Stone and suchlike to call you ‘The greatest live hip-hop band!’

Comment by HHC Digital 06.29.09 @

What about when the covers are better than the originals?
Mos doin say you will>>>kanyes version

Comment by The guy 06.29.09 @

Must be new–I saw GFK a few years ago in LA and he didn’t do any of this nonsense.

Comment by Finally 06.29.09 @

ghostface played here (dublin) last year.
he is an mc that people that have fallen out of love with hiphop still support,homies i know had insisted that their friends who never go to rap shows need to be at this.
the show was bollocks.how may gun shots you gonna let off j-love???
how many weak ass weed carriers you need on stage ghost???
is it really necesaary to pull girls on stage to dance??
to end the show theodore unit grabbed rubbish sacks full of merch and put the hard sell on the crowd.
he did the opposite of what touring should bring to an artist that night,he disappointed and lost fans.
my homies from new zealand didnt seem to mind his show ,the one that’s just been to australia too.
though one “loved Ghostface but could’ve done with about 3 more songs.” does someone with a catalogue as deep as ghost need to do covers,or have so many weeed carriers…..does he get subsidised by the staten island council to bring local rappers out to see the world?
in saying this he’s still one my favourite mcs but next time i see him live it should be with raekwon and backed by El Michels Affair

Comment by mikki dee 06.29.09 @

yeah its a sad state of affairs at hip hop shows these days, i don’t even go see cats that i think are even partially mainstream anymore, 80 cats on stage rappin at the same time doesn’t equal good music, covers are cool at a rock show if you are doing covers of the doors or pink floyd or something, but at a hip hop show i think i recall the terminology as biting, tributes aside, rap your own, or over someone else’s beat, don’t bite verbatim, i refuse to go to shows like that, my homie said he went to a gfk show and ghost barely rapped, just sang a bunch of old school motown stuff, and then left early, at a kool keith show awhile back keith just rapped the hooks to all his songs and then called it good, i’m a hardbody kool keith fan (no homo) but even i was dissapointed, it really is a shame when big name cats phone it in like that, but i guess thats why i only go to under under underground type shows, though the time i saw too short he kicked off all 40 hypemen to rap on his lonely

Comment by gstatty 06.29.09 @

As a whole, rappers bringing terrible crews with them ruins the whole experience. The Theodore Unit qualifies as a terrible crew. It is all downhill from there as far as I’m concerned. I saw him last year, and he was great, but the unit were shouting all over his verses.

Now to answer your question, yes cover tracks are lame and weak. The only group in hip-hop who has ever done them proper justice are the Roots.

Comment by HipHopHistorian 06.29.09 @

I saw him in Hamburg (I think that was the day after he did the show in Berlin) with the Dilated Peoples as the opening act and god, they killed it.

Ghost set was solid, basically the same as the one you can see on the bonus DVD from the “Put It On The Line”. Whatever, show was pretty nice but I was surprised to suddenly hear Passing Me By lol.

Comment by The Octacat 06.29.09 @

Went to see Ghost and Rae in London last year performing OB4CL. It was fuckin’ great!

Comment by End Level Boss 06.29.09 @

Seen him in Bristol in May of this year and it was a good show, but he did something similar. Half way through his set he just got his DJ to play classic Hip-Hop songs whilst he just shouted over them. When the Aint no half steppin beat came on I thought i was ready to witness something truely special, only for Ghost to just listen to the music.

I can listen to all those songs at home for free and without Ghost asking if I love real Hip-hop over the top. It wasnt a bad show, it was pretty good but we in the UK dont get many shows a year by these sort of artists so I wish he had performed more of his tracks.

At least after the gig he did come into the entrance and sign stuff and talk to people.

Comment by jjhobo 06.29.09 @

yeah yesterday @ the Rock the Bells Detroit nas/ damien marley did it but the crowd had no problem, probably due to the roots doin it a few sets b4 them

Comment by dirtykics 06.29.09 @

The Roots are probably the only ones talented enough to pull that shit off every time.

Comment by BIGSPICE 06.29.09 @

The Roots get a pass, obviously.

Comment by Robbie 06.29.09 @

I am going to the Rock The Bells in Maryland, but I plan on leaving before Nas, The Roots, and any of the more mainstream headliners.

Comment by HipHopHistorian 06.29.09 @

Why does the weedcarrier in the above video keep offering the mic out to the crowd in the middle of verses? I can listen to myself rap lyrics to my favorite songs anytime… I’m paying you guys to do it, dummy.

Comment by A to the L 06.30.09 @

also j love is wak as fk.
dude cant even hit go on his cart machine on time.
worst ever.

Comment by PR2 06.30.09 @

Rap covers? Getthefuckouttahere, what’s the next step gonna be, karaoke? Kenny G overdubs?

I recently saw EPMD and finally, after five years, I’ve managed to enjoy a live show. Erick, Parrish, the DJ. Period.
The only Ghostface show I’ve seen was between barely tolerable and pathetic. I think he pulled the same call and response routine for over five minutes, it was like taking a collective English lesson. but at least he didn’t any of that cover nonsense, which seems to be a great feat nowadays

Comment by reiser 06.30.09 @

playing covers is acceptable in every musical genre, why would it be any different for hiphop shows? assuming they’re well done of course, i’m kind of on the edge about ghost’s off key emotional outbursts sometimes.

Comment by spotrusherz 06.30.09 @

uhh, yeah the roots get a pass, shit el michels would get a pass, and so would the heiruspecs, but most emcees that do cover songs get a fail because at least with the aforementioned they all play instruments and it takes a lot of ability to cover someone else’s song well, with hip hop its just a dj who puts on a record, not to diss djs cause they are the backbone of hip hop, the only real hip hop covers that get a pass would be really old school stuff like the message or the roll call from wildstyle, you know the classics, if they covered an old school little known to unknown classic, they would get even more cred in my book

Comment by gstatty 07.02.09 @

I went to a Ghost show about a month ago and it was a real disapointment. I seen the Wu about two years ago and it was a legendary night with the whole crowd hyped but Ghost solo was the complete opposite. I seemed to be the only one in the crowd enjoying it and rapping along, like everyone there was someone’s friend who’d been dragged along. Ghost was tight on the mic but letting one of your weedcarriers rap to ‘If I Rule the World’ is the complete opposite to what the crowd want to see. It’s nice to pay homage and obviously ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’ is a necessity but when someone’s got such a vast catalogue why do so much of other people’s shit?

Comment by Craig 07.04.09 @

I love it when they do that shit, it’s one of the things you only get live so I reckon it’s a bonus.

Comment by DUNC4N 07.05.09 @



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