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Review Mon Sep 24 2007

"Hiphop is in the building."

At some point in our lives, we were the star of our own show. We've sung along to the radio, we've posed in front of the mirror in the bathroom. We've hummed along to our iPods, and we've air-guitared, danced, and gyrated through dance moves. We've done songs from memory and motions through repetition.

In a concert setting, we get to see how our musical idols do it. Do they do the same thing in the video? Do they change up notes, chords, delivery? They're performing in front of a mirror of sorts: hundreds of people who know their songs, their moves, but expect more.

On both Saturday and Sunday night, the legendary Roots crew provided sonic backing for amounted to a revival meeting of what's good about hiphop, past, and present. The recipe was quite simple: Recreate the beats and rhythms of yesteryear with a live band, turntables, and minimal technology. Mix in the well-worn lyrics of the 80s and 90s, delivered by four emcees at the top of their craft, and serve to an appreciative audience.

Hundreds of people crowded the House of Blues for shows on Saturday and Sunday nights for the VH1 HipHop Honors Tour, which leads up to the televising of the actual awards ceremony October 8th. Special guests of honor were MC Lyte, widely regarded as one of the most popular female emcees of all time, and Big Daddy Kane, who was smooth and raw before it wasn't cool and perfectly natural to be both at the same time.

For added verve and panache, the Roots' resident emcee, Black Thought, co-hosted with Skillz, a Virginia-based emcee who's ghostwriting credits include quite a few popular rappers. The chemistry was dynamic, as they piloted the show through two-and-a-half-plus hours of straight ahead beats and rhymes.

The star that lay dormant in each audience member shone with renditions of tracks which are widely regarded classics in the hiphop canon, even if not successful by commercial standards. Songs by past honorees blended into MC Lyte numbers or Kane appearances, as the crowd didn't miss a lyric as the legends took the stage. At some points, they merely held the microphone out, expecting the audience to finish lyrics for them.

An audience of hundreds, singing along, dancing along (everyone do the Snake!) and having a great time is what the founders of the music wanted. For a night, we were all singing into the mirror, doing our thing on the dance floor, and loving hiphop.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
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Largehearted Boy
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Live Fix Blog
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Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
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Theft Liable to Prosecution
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Victim Of Time
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