Return of the legends, part 1:
Friday, September 2, 2005:

Well, alrighty then.. At last, the concert is here. As I was representing Northwest Indiana for the vast majority of my youth, I never really got the chance to see any hip-hop glitterati during the so-named Golden Age heyday of the Reagan/Bush pt. 1 era of performers (see the archives- So when these 'Return of the Legends' showcases started up last year, I was definitely down. Last year, the two-night lineup included Slick Rick, SugarHill Gang & Melle Mel, Special Ed, Nice & Smooth, & more.

This time, there were over 10,000 people packed in at Chene Park, just east of downtown Detroit, situated on the Detroit riverfront. Boat owners set anchor near the outdoor amphitheater and got to see the show for free.
The first act started promptly at 8:10 p.m., as MC Serch served as the host, introducing all the artists, and providing a running commentary in between sets, with longtime WJLB radio fixture TJ the Trouble Man.
First up was X-Clan—Brother J was joined by one of the new members (I forget the name), who served as a hype man. The DJ replacing Sugar Shaft I did not recognize. Giving a shout-out to Professor X, Bro. J ran through the hits like "grand verbalizer", "funkin’ lesson", "heed the words of a brother" (?), etc., and maybe two newer cuts, from a planned 2006 comeback LP in the works.

The next artist to perform was DJ Quik. People—especially women—were really screaming now. Quik popped open two bottles of champagne on the crowd up front (though one was a dud..) and went on to do a shorter set, including "born and raised in Compton", "just like Compton", "tonight", "dollaz N sense" and "SBP"… Quik jumped on the speakers at one point, and went in the crowd a few times.. one of the more raucous moments was when he invited a crew of white girls in the front row up on stage during "tonight", and they all surrounded him to grind-dance, some of them singing word for word.

MC Lyte was next (mmmm... Lyte), a repeater from last year’s Legends concert. the luscious Lana gave a shout out to K-Rock, who she said was somewhere in Alabama, helping family, then set into her routine, starting with "Paper Thin", then alternating with a cappella and DAT-backed renditions of "stop look listen", "10% dis", "roughneck" "keep on keep keepin’ on", and brought an audience member to sing her part of "self destruction".. she also dropped a few freestyles and closed with some excerpts from a new cut, maybe a new LP next year. Alas, no "cappuccino", or "cold rock a party".. close as I was to the stage, I wish I could’ve gotten a hug from her.. all female MC’s should age this well (Lil’ Kim, take note..)

My favorite part of the night was next—and totally a surprise for me.. Last time I read a blurb about the show, Big Daddy Kane was supposed to be next, and I had seen another flyer where he wasn’t even listed.. so I wondered—Serch’s introduction lingered for a minute, then finally touched on that this next cat was a mentor for him, from the South Bronx.. could it be—nah—could it be..? It is!!

KRS-ONE was back in Detroit at last, less than a year after a lecture (that I went to) and performance (that I missed) in October of ’04. Busy Bee was his hype man, and his DJ was a young cat named Cochise.. Cochise was the first DJ to rock vinyl tonight, others were rocking cd’s or it was a DAT cue.. The teacher started off with "MC’s act like they don’t know", and proceeded to preach and teach with partial renditions of "black cop", "outta here", "underground", "Sound of da police", "illegal business 2004", "south Bronx", "I’m still #1", "the MC", "step into a world", "hip hop vs. rap", and a few freestyles, before an encore encouraged (staged?) by Serch, closing with "My Philosophy" and "the bridge is over".. Finally, after buying over 12 albums (most in cassette form at first, then CD, sometimes twice due to theft), I finally get to see Knowledge Reigns Supreme in concert, albeit a non-headlining set.
Random KRS Quotes: "When you lose your job, you find your work.. What is your true purpose?" "All of y’all with boats out here should be in New Orleans!" "respect yourself. Be good to yourself. Love yourself!" "It should not take a disaster for me to help my brothers and sisters!"

When KRS stepped (Teacher! Come back!), it was time for Whodini inside the joint, who also co-headlined last year’s show. Grandmaster Dee appeared first, teasing the crowd for several minutes with a medley of assorted R&B 70’s jams, before finally Ex and Jalil took the stage, joined by Doctor Ice of UTFO as a hype man (Doc is Jalil’s brother?). They started off with "big mouth" (rapped to the instrumental off Tony Yayo’s single), then "Friends", "Funky Beat", "I’m a Ho", "Freaks…", "One Love", and closing with "Five Minutes of Funk", allowing throngs of people up on stage..
Then DJ Quik CAME BACK, this time, with a half-empty bottle of Remy in his hand, and then did an encore performance of "Tonight".. heh-heh..

Apparently, the show had a strict end time of before 11:30.. which is screwy, to me—I mean, we’re all adults here, I didn’t see any younger kids in the crowd. But them’s the breaks with the city.. Union rules and what not.
The afterparty was right afterwards at a nearby nightclub, but I’d had my fill for tonight.. Serch says that part of the proceedings are going to a relief fund..
To Be Continued---


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