Even Free Rap Shows Are A Rip-Off Now

So there was a free show the other night featuring Jean Grae and Pharoahe Monch, which isn’t really a big deal since I never really pay to get in anyways and I don’t really know a song that either of ’em have done for the last five years, but eff it. First thing I noticed that were a lot of broads around, which is pretty unusual for a scumbag spot like this one but always a positive. Did all this gals roll up to hear ‘Simon Says’? On closer inspection, I noticed that 85% of these chicks appeared to be on some of that old rug munch status, and then the penny dropped. ‘Oh shit, Jean got this girl-on-girl rap audience in a headlock!’. There also seemed to be your usual fudge pudge of type-Emo rap fans and J. Bieber wannabes, which seems to be par for the course in this fruit basket we call hip-hop now.

Regardless, I was interested to see how the show might progress. When Jean hit the stage, she had long abandoned the old head librarian steez she was rocking in that My Mic Sounds Nice documentary for a tight leather jacket and M.I.A hairdo, accompanied by a bootleg Caron Wheeler and Mr. Len was on the deck. Since a whole lot of sangin’ was going on, so I kinda tuned-out for a while at this point until Ms. Grae took her jacket off and exposed what can best be described as a fair rack. I’m not sure if this and her tatts got me open or if the quality of the last couple of songs suddenly improved dramatically, but I found myself suddenly inching closer to the stage and nodding my head…

A few beers later and Prince Po‘s old buddy turned up wearing a flack jacket with a weed carrier in tow. This weed holder dude turned out to be a kid named Showtime, who is pretty much the most energetic hypeman of all time. At various points in the set of Monch songs which I hardly knew, this little character danced, performed back-ups and sang – usually all at the same time – and at one point was spinning around while hollering at the top of his lungs on what can only be described as James-Brown-on-some-Exorcist shit. This was all fairly amusing, especially the brief trick routine from X-Men Total Eclipse and Boogie Blind, but then things took a turn for the worse. Monch suddenly announces that he’s going to share the ‘future of hip-hop’ with us – which usually means that his weed stasher has his blunt rolled – but in this case, he wheeled out some 12 year-old cracker dressed like…you guessed it…Justin Bieber.

I’m not gonna rag on the kid for dressing like a douche hammer, since that’s what kids do, but the little midget then proceeded to drop a freestyle that even Markey Mark would have grimaced at. So I started screaming abuse from the audience about how he should fuck off and get ready for his paper route the next day, assuming that other more discerning members of the crowd might support my heckling with some booing of their own. Turns out that the crowd thought this junior rapper dude was cute as a button and started cheering him as if he’d just spat the first verse of ‘Prisoners of War’…. to add insult to injury, Monch dropped the beat for ‘Stress’ and then decided to cut it after only four member of the audience sang along to the hook! Simon says go kill yourself. As with the Grae set, things ended strongly for the Pharoahe as he kicked a sick rhyme over what sounded like the beat for Godfather Don’s ‘Seeds of Hate’ (aka some David Axelrod), but once again I was left feeling shot-changed by the whole experience. Live rap stays losing.

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52 Comments so far
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I dunno, it sounds like you didnt really care for a live show this particular evening..but it was kind of amusing reading this and then at the end, the ticket ads for Phish and Black Eyed Peas!

Comment by PAS 11.30.10 @

Agree with PAS that although you obviously didn’t have a great time on the night, it’s funny to rread about ! Hopefully that Wild Pitch Reunion Tour with Lord Finesse, Extra P & OC will be dope.

Comment by CrateDigga78 11.30.10 @

Always appreciate your writings, Robbie. These two were in New Zealand recently, but it was not free. Next up is Mos Def. I have high hopes for him live. Should I?

Comment by Blake 11.30.10 @

i dunno man but i heard monch on black milk and on consequence and he killed them. so i was thinking he was gonna come out with a new banger. jean grae has alwasy been dope, she shouldve brought 9th wonder with her.

Comment by iLLa 11.30.10 @

if you haven’t heard a new pharahe song for five years you should check his cover of welcome to the terrordome.


pure energy!

Comment by AK 11.30.10 @

Robbie u Such a Bitch ass Fake nigga
please bro if and when i catch u cause u keep duckin Me like the Bitch u are
but my Spies in Australia are very close.
u will get a Beat Down 4 me Ghetto Vader.
when u come 2 the states you Gonna get it,
Word is Born

Comment by Ghetto Vader 11.30.10 @

both these artists have a dope catalog,in Monch case he got classics..hard for me to believe u was disappointed..probably was just an off-night for them that’s all

Comment by dj blendz 11.30.10 @

pharoahe that is.. yes, his verse on consequences last mixtape was dope too..

Comment by AK 11.30.10 @

Blake – I saw Mos Def touring Black On Both Sides. He had a live band and kept breaking down in the middle of his songs to sing / get funky / show his artistic side. Fucking shambolic, even for a hip hop show.

Comment by djbosscrewwrecka 11.30.10 @

When you consider that most rap shows are essentially glorified karaoke sessions… it’s not hard to understand why they usually disappoint.

Comment by eric nord 11.30.10 @

At least you didn’t pay 20 dollars this year to see Monch perform a 30 minute set that had him forgetting his rhymes and skipping over his early material.

Comment by 2020Proof 11.30.10 @

@Ghetto Vader: No you won’t. Who are you again?

Comment by Robbie 11.30.10 @

I blame that shithole The Espy, why do promoters keep booking shows there? Actually, why did it become such a shithole in the first place? Did you see Percee P though? I had a chat with him at wax Museum, he was ridiculously friendly.

Comment by Jesse 12.01.10 @

“12 year old cracker”. how many times did you proof read this and still thought it’s cool?

Comment by ddc 12.01.10 @

Happy Born Day Robbie!!! Thanks for keeping the real Hip Hop alive kid!!!

Comment by Marc Davis 12.01.10 @

^ Thanks, although it’s not until the 15th…

Comment by Robbie 12.01.10 @

Bahahahahaha. OUTSTANDING SIR! How the fuck am I supposed to write a review even remotely comparable now?

Comment by Peak Street 12.01.10 @

Also tell us you got a Percee interview?

Comment by Peak Street 12.01.10 @

Nice writing.

I also saw Pharoahe Monch live once, for free.

I also was disappointed (I’m a big fan of his).

Comment by brytburken 12.01.10 @

” “12 year old cracker”. how many times did you proof read this and still thought it’s cool? ”

agreed, best look in the mirror.

Comment by Sam 12.01.10 @


Comment by Krisch 12.01.10 @

we all whiteboys here, wigga…

Comment by steezolini 12.01.10 @

Oh word you can rap along to NWA but can’t say ‘cracker’ without getting emotional? Shame on you, paleface.

Comment by Robbie 12.01.10 @

Saw them in NY last month. It was cool. The monch set was too short and Jean’s was a bit too long and dragging. But no denying they’re great MCs.

FYI: the Caron Wheeler lookalike is called
Mela Machinko (she’s on Pharoahe’s Desire album)

Comment by ?uestion Marc 12.01.10 @

ive never been mistaken for paleface in my life. quite the opposite. your justification is weak. i know i cant change the world. im responsible for just my family.

Comment by ddc 12.01.10 @

Monch suddenly announces that he’s going to share the ‘future of hip-hop’ with us – which usually means that his weed stasher has his blunt rolled \
^HAHAHA! Slim! U a wild boy!Also U right, Jean Grae is deceptively fine in person!

Comment by chronwell 12.01.10 @

Jean Grae is FAR from a ‘great MC.” Great complainer, yes, and one who is capable of decent guest spots but she’s on the margins not because of some sexist conspiracy but because she’s MARGINAL– just like the vast majority of male rappers, btw.

On her 20th anniversary in hip-hop are we still going to be making excuses?

Pharoah is on a different stratum altogether tho’ I’ve never heard anyone say he was an exceptional live performer.

Comment by Saratoga N. Blake 12.01.10 @

Alot of cats have catalogs and classics but can’t translate to a live show. I just saw Nas at a free show, show was terrible and he was rockin with a band. That shit was the most disappointing event I’ve ever been to in my life.

Comment by S 12.01.10 @

Damn I wish I could’ve seen those Jean Greasy Tittays!!!! In all seriousness muhfuckas… If Jean spittin; you movin to the front of the stage PERIOD.

Comment by bboycult 12.01.10 @


Can’t say I’m surprised either…a lot of these cats fail onstage…

Comment by $yk 12.01.10 @

KRS-One fucking delivers, always, live.

Is there anyone in hip-hop history who comes close?

I’m tempted to say PE but… no, not really. Hard to do the Bomb Squad justice live and Flav is too unpredictable.

Big Daddy Kane with a live band was hot in BK last year but it was nearly all oldies.

Smif N Wessun with a live band were very good, actually, and they’re not dudes you’d think of as being super-dynamic live.

Comment by Saratoga N. Blake 12.01.10 @

Yo Robbie…

I was there with 2 chicks and my boy from Marcy, NY…I tried to holla, buy you a coldie but the super shit crowd was unbearable.

Monch’s set was ehhhh….

one of my favorites and I left thinking…WTF??

Anyway, im waiting for the Trem album…fuck everything else

Comment by AFFEX 12.02.10 @

Jean Grae fine as hell when I got to see her live, worth stalking I’d guess.
anyway, you sound jaded, yall nyc cats can’t appreciate a free show anymore?

Comment by Enig Mue 12.02.10 @

haha.. dope read.. You should probably make half an attempt to enjoy yourself next time you go to a show tho..

Comment by LEX 12.02.10 @

lol @ you heckling and no-one joining in.

Comment by LEX 12.02.10 @

Last time I liked Jean Grae’s raps were with kool keith, bobbito and eon on hands on experience, that song was hilarious. Also some other song I can’t remember about hennessey with the alias what what. I honestly haven’t liked monch’s shit since the organized konfusion days. Jean Grae’s tweets are hella strange. I used to like Jean Grae, but everytime she opened her mouth on the Polyrhythm addicts album I switched tracks.

Comment by gstatty 12.02.10 @

^u sure it was Jean? I always thought it was Tiye Phoenix on them Polyrhythm joints

Comment by dj blendz 12.03.10 @

PS– Forgot peak-era LL… Second best live MC after Kris.

Comment by Saratoga N. Blake 12.03.10 @

das bier für profis? prost!

Comment by swordfish 12.03.10 @

I have to say I’m bummed I missed Monch & Grae in Adel due to work (the main reason I miss alot of shows!). I still bump Internal Affairs and I stan on The Jeanius quite a bit but judging by your review it doesn’t sound as though I missed much. I am looking forward to Cake or Death though!!!

Comment by Crisis 12.03.10 @

Btw: speaking of Bieber anyone seen/heard him dropping bars on Tim (tha big dawwwwg) Westwoods show? Shit is shocking. Now that was some real Markey Mark Warlberg type ish!

Comment by Crisis 12.03.10 @

@dj blendz yup I think you are right, tiye phoenix actually replaced apani b in the polyrhythm addicts, they both actually sound like jean grae. So I guess jean grae still gets a pass.

Comment by gstatty 12.03.10 @

Saw Pharoahe play in Welly on the same tour and mercifully (by the sounds of it) that kid didn’t get a visa to NZ.
Though please explain the tie-in between this story and the Bayern beer cup and free gigs.

Comment by coozy 12.05.10 @

Robbie, you gotta be at least like 33… how did it feel booing a 12 year old?

P.S. you not from NYC

Comment by Lewie 12.06.10 @

^ Fuckin’ hippy.

Comment by Robbie 12.07.10 @

@Saratoga N. Blake: regarding peak-era L, true indeed and well-said. also, about Jean Grae, you are spot-on. i never really liked her emceeing. i don’t dislike it, but she’s kinda neither hot or cold to me. i don’t think it matters if Mr. Len, Bazarro, or anyone else spins for her. on to the song i would go.

Comment by bitter monk 12.09.10 @

Triumph of hope of certain knowledge Rob.

Comment by ED209 12.09.10 @

“sing along to nwa” and can’t say cracker.

funny & true….

the review of this show is more entertaining than what the concert seemed to have been.

“would make marky mark cringe”….you win with that line

Comment by getthesenets 12.10.10 @

@Blake: Like djbosscrewwrecka says, the Mos Def shows these days are pretty wack. Saw him at Rock the Bells a couple of years ago. It was so bad that people started throwing stuff at him and he chastised them by saying, “I don’t go to your job and throw things at you!” Apparently, that’s what his shows are to him now…just a job. He doesn’t put his heart into it anymore, which is sad.

Comment by MLEpdx 12.11.10 @

“I started screaming abuse from the audience about how he should fuck off and get ready for his paper route the next day, assuming that other more discerning members of the crowd might support my heckling with some booing of their own. Turns out that the crowd thought this junior rapper dude was cute as a button and started cheering him as if he’d just spat the first verse of ‘Prisoners of War’…”

the fuck?

what ever happened to heckling motherfuckers off stage?

Comment by Jacks 12.17.10 @

good emcees doesnt always mean good show. having a good show is a natural thing. last emporer kills the live show. so does planet asia, el da sensei, c rayz walz and all stronghold cats.

Comment by dale d 12.29.10 @

Ahhh racism and heckling, I can see why you got the hookup at the door. You a classy motherfucker.

Comment by James 01.10.11 @

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