Slum Village & Bizarre Ride The Observatory May 13, 2014
In an era where classic boom bap hip-hop has virtually lost all momentum, an affinity for the sound pioneered, then mastered by the late J Dilla remains. Last night at the Observatory was dedicated to one of the game's most revered producers. Grape swishers burned restlessly waiting for the Dilla Exhibit listening to freestyles that flowed to the vintage jazz cello-clad beats like the tall cans of Pabst that riddled the venue's floor at the end of the night.
With a notable lack of skinny jeans that prohibit the nut grabbing associated with the hip-hop of old, the night oozed the sedating melodies of the lo-fi instrumentals, namely the Dillafied works sampled from all walks of sonic life. After an impressive peformance from the opening DJ and accompanying MC full of the underground vibe and thought provoking metaphors, the Observatory took a trip down a trail blazed by Jazz, into Dillaville. Some, especially the guy dressed in a white pinstriped Tommy Hilfiger athletics jersey that must've been procured from a Ghetto Fabulous pre-Y2K time capsule, came more prepared than others.
Lacking a lustrous egress, two-thirds of Slum Village (T3 and Young RJ) stepped from backstage in all Black with game faces on waiting for their DJ the classic "Fall In Love." The two dove straight into set with time stamped lyrics prompting a look around to observe the crowd. Mentions of Sean John and PS2 triggered some of the panning looks around the half-packed venue. Happy to be on stage rocking in the name of their late partner, the almost identical duo, distinguished by a vest and Adidas, jumped around on the edge of the stage and broke out in a synchronized two-step to their collection of hip-hop, rapping their verses, as well as Jay Dee's and his complete songs in some instances.
Prior signing off with "Raise It Up," the group hit us with their highest charting single featuring none other than Yeezus, "Selfish." The crowd joined T3 in rapping Kanye's part that remains as animated as it was a decade ago.
Before SV could catch their breath after their set, Bizarre Ride stormed the stage. The former Pharcyde members and associates including all took the stage. J Swift, preceding Fat Lip, SlimKid3 and their fourth member, L.A. Jay, emerged with an uncombed 'fro to start the track "Oh Shit." As each of them came to the stage, we'd learn they all strived to symbolize the organic sound of their music as none of them attempted to groom their matted manes.
In between the whirling pianos, and jazz flutes of the backing tracks, shouts from fans yelling "Westside!" and other dated catchphrases echoed throughout the main floor. that drew the modest out on a work night. Bizarre Ride didn't hesitate to yell back at the pit, where a guy held up the original vinyl cover for "Ya Mama". "This muthafucka knows all the lyrics", SlimKid3 belted during another interlude, hyping the crowd shortly. Concertgoers found themselves involved when the stubby L.A. Jay snatched a Samsung tablet from woman's hand to record him reciting the hook to "Return of the B-Boy."
Throughout the night, the weeknight warriors would tune out of the show until a notable cut was cued, waking one fellow in a Black fedora out of his standing doze every so often. Unfortunately, for those lames in attendance they'd miss out on their chance to engage in a style and flow that began fading during Michael Jordan's second title run.
Sadly, there isn't much more time for the "do that shit, do it" call-and-repeat shtick to live and likely only lives with help of Jay Dilla renowned productions.
When it came to "Passin' Me By" and "Running" though, both the crowd and Bizarre Side mirrored the chill melodies of the hip-hop staples with leaning movements that found the entire venue in a moment of nostalgia.
By the time "Pack the Pipe" began, the crowd appeared to be almost out of weed--we could tell by our sudden ability to see the stage through the smoke clouds. The headliners gave into the communal spirit of their Dillaville show, passing the mic around so that everyone from their hype man to front row audience members could a chance to spit some bars from the song into the mic before the night was through.
Overheard: "Daddy, daddy!" a little voice calls from stage left. It was from J Swift's cute, curly-haired pre-K daughter.
Random Notebook Dump: As the event was a celebration of the legend J Dilla celebration, his name was like a peewees playhouse secret word evoking cheers every time it was mentioned.
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Critic's Bias: We've never been to a hip-hop show with so many vapes in the audience.