Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rakim Live

Michael Jordan as a Wizard, Wayne Gretzky in Ranger gear, Franco Harris a Seahawk, Manny Ramirez in his current Dodger gear. All legends who looked downright silly as they hung on too long in the game.

The greatest to ever touch a microphone, Rakim, is not among that list. He proved that last night to a near-packed Fox Theater of under-21s who weren't even a glimmer in their parent's eyes when Paid In Full was released in 1987 and a hearty collection of bald heads and gray beards pushing 40 who rocked Ra and fly sweat suits in high school.

Billed as Paid In Full in its entirety, the show wasn't simply "I Aint No Joke" all the way to the tenth track "Extened Beat." Rakim effectively moved the crowd from start to finish by incorporating most of his classic debut sprinkled with the hits from his string of post-Paid releases.
Jumping right in the fray was Technichian The DJ, who opened with the standard assortment of late 80s to mid 90s classics that got the crowd amped as Ra strolled onto the stage and simply said "let's take it back to the beginning" as "Eric B Is President" dropped and sent the Fox into head nod unison. Quickly he launched into "Move The Crowd" and the still-magical "My Melody" although the latter was cut short before the crowd could join in the classic "Seven MCs" bar.
The set list didn't flow non-stop like many shows, as Ra spoke to the crowd in between songs, surprisingly showing he is more of a regular dude rather than the quiet, calculated persona he's crafted over the years. He clowned for cell phone picts, showed off a crowd member's Rockies' hat, and even tried to fix the DJ's mic stand. He spoke to the ladies and the "fellas getting themselves right" before the familar bass of "Mahogony" bellowed.
Joints from his latest album The Seventh Seal ("Holy Are Thou" and "How To MC") were welcome to the diehards, but somewhat put a damper on the crowd buzz through the set. Rakim made up for it as he blazed through "Microphone Fiend" (injecting the mic into his forearm during the chorus), "Know The Ledge" and "I Know You Got Soul.
Rakim told the crowd he'd "be doing this shit at fifty something" near the show's close. Judging by what he brings to the game, he'll still be doing it at a Hall Of Fame level.

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