Black Moon and Big Daddy Kane @ Southpaw, Brooklyn
The Golden Age of Hip Hop is a time long gone. Boom boxes and vinyl records are quickly morphing from bedroom items to museum pieces, and if you’ve seen a flat top haircut in the last five years, you’re one in a few. The evolution of what’s cool is both a blessing and a curse, so it had to be expected that the early nineties underground rap scene would fade from the spotlight. But there is always a reason to reminisce and remember.
This past Thursday, the Red Bull Music Academy reignited the Old School flame by bringing out two Brooklyn hip hop legends to Southpaw: Big Daddy Kane and Black Moon. The concert marked the fourth night of Red Bull’s Five out of Five, an event created to honor five classic rap albums from each of the five boroughs. Black Moon headlined the evening with their 1993 album “Enta Da Stage.”
The crowd at the venue represented all walks of Brooklyn, ranging from the over-thirty group who bought the record when it came out with a crumpled stack of lunch money to the college hip hop nerd who was kept in the know by youtube and the insight of a cool aunt or uncle. I must admit that I am part of the latter. Nonetheless it was all you could ask for in an audience: everyone came with the intention to bring it back to the old school. The hype man made this quite clear with his continual disses on Drake’s expense.
Big Daddy Kane kicked the night off right with crystal-clear, perfectly enunciated renditions of his classics. He highlighted the albums “Long Live the Kane,” and “It’s a Big Daddy Thing,” performing songs such as “Raw,” “Set it Off,” and “I Get The Job Done.” Wearing a slick leather jacket and gliding across the stage with ease, he looked nowhere near his 43-year old age. He even brought his old back-up dancers, Scoop and Scap Love, on stage to kick off a routine. The hype that Kane created can be defined by the man standing behind me, spitting every word to every song in my ear.
And then there was Black Moon. I knew it was about to start up when the large and in charge, DJ Evil Dee, stepped up to the decks and began spinning classic jams for the crowd. A six-piece instrumental section spread itself across the stage to back up the rhymes of Buckshot and 5ft. When the two emerged from backstage, they jumped right into a rendition of “Powerful Impak,” the first track of “Enta da Stage.”
I was not impressed. The energy and stage presence of the musicians was there, but the sound technician did not bring his A-game. Not one of the instruments or voices was clearly audible; there was too much going on at once. The sound quality was muddled and overly bass-heavy. I have to give it to Black Moon for attempting to expand the game, but in my opinion, it was not worth what was sacrificed.
All in all, Big Daddy Kane took the show, and he did it by keeping his approach as simple and classic as possible: DJ, Mic, Emcee, period. What I believe to be the true essence of hip hop.
Here are some videos from the night:
Words by Jon Mennella
- Music Video for Björk’s “Moon”
- Theophilus London and Phony Ppl @ Brooklyn Museum
- Brooklyn Bodega Presents “Under The Influence”
- Five Out of Five: Red Bull Music Academy Celebrates NYC’s Most Iconic Hip Hop Albums
- Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival Video Recap