For one night at Costa Mesa's newly opened venue the Wayfarer, hip-hop was restored to its pristine state; uninhibited by the faux acts and ghostwritten lyrics that saturate the genre today. Bucket hats were referred to their proper names as Fisherman hats and the '80s lived on in the crowd. Most patrons could probably give detailed first-hand accounts of the decade. Often times it was their attire that gave their age away, but they weren't alone in their quests for the ol' skool. Younger heads in the building all had something in common with their elder counterparts and that was the love of what was exclaimed “real Hip-Hop” and specifically EPMD.
25 years ago, the New York natives released their sophomore album Unfinished Business that would go on to solidify their legend in hip-hop. Yesterday, hip-hop was already in celebration of another of their pioneers. It was the 53nd birthday of the deceased Guru of the group Gang Starr. As EPMD's Erick Sermon blessed the stage with his light brown eyes and a youthful smile, the crowd couldn't help but guffaw up at the stage where E Dubble and the bulked Parrish Smith would rock for the next 45 minutes.
Erick, still smiling, mentions how the new venue with its corded mics takes him back to the '80s and '90s.The stage which barely afforded enough space to the two rappers and a DJ setup was reminiscent of small-scale shows that entertained droves of hip-hop's earliest fans in New York.
Energy in the intimate space ramped up as the duo got into momentous tracks like “Rampage” and Headbanger.” This was also likely due to the packed venue that held about a few hundred heads, staff included. Much of the crowd jumped like kindergarteners to the songs that predated getting crunk and turnt up. Sermon would later outline his seniority over reputables like “Shady” and T.I. in the game in an a capella that verse that once again had the crowd screaming “real hip-hop!”
Ironically, the crowd stayed just as hyped for the classic “You Gots to Chill” which embodied the sound of the era. Samples of funk and blues could be found in the instrumentals that are simple based on the productions of today. Also much more rudimentary were the lyrics of previous decades that found Erick Sermon starting a verse with “knick knack patty wack.”
One aspect of hip-hop that has sadly become less technical over the years is the art of turntabling. Grammy nominated DJ Scratch backed up EPMD this Thursday the way he has for four different decades now and put on an exhibition of his own that blew the socks off of with the very technique that his name suggests; scratching. Scratch also played the most recent song heard that night and reverted that to a song older than any of EPMD's hits. Scratch tampered with Eve's “Blow Your Mind” via a technique known as beat-juggling which had the DJ's hands busier than a Canadian curling team before retuning the track to “Mary had a Little Lamb.”
“Oohs and ahhs” rushed to the front of the stage as Sermon and Parrish took a breather but Scratch was not yet over. Next, the handyman reminded and then surpassed the memories of Omar Epps in “Juice” that may have been evoked. On top of spinning from behind his back and busting 360s in between cuts, Scratch lifted one of his turntables while scratching as Black Sheep lyrics directing him to “pick it up” were repeated. Still in hysteria, Scratch topped his masterful solo by leaning his face to his mixer and switching his fader from left to right with his mouth!
Prior to ending their set and after Parrish dapped those in the front row with his large fists, Erick Sermon had a few words of advice to offer the crowd. For the young ones in attendance Sermon preached that if they were to ever attend a hip-hop show and find no DJ behind the emce, it should not be considered “real hip-hop”. It was as true as two plus two equals four to the crowd who had become the duo's pupils.
Lastly, E Dubble pedagogically proclaimed his most applicable info of the night. “Don't never let no one tell you you can't make it,” Sermon said before the cap the night with the seminal, inspirational track “Please Listen to my Demo”. Sermon and Parrish spit the lyrics to the anthem with all they had leaving the fans of the new Wayfarer complete.
The Crowd: 30+ guys of all ages who mostly dressed as if they were stuck in a few deacades back. One guy sagged his bright red shorts low enough to make up for the slew of skinny jeans now associated with Rap.
Random Notebook Dump: New enough to not have had anyone vomit in its restrooms yet, the Wayfarer put on their first big show since their recent opening and hope to host a Rap night at least once a month dependent on the night's turn out.
Critic's Bias: I live for drink specials and intimate venues and the Beer + Shot of Whiskey for $10 at the tight-packed Wayfarer satisfies those desires with ease.
Overheard: Since the last opening act got of stage until ” Please Listen to my Demo” concluded; “real Hip-Hop!”
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