By: Demarcus O’Dell
“How’s nineties hip-hop for a 420 holiday celebration concert?” Asked Redman. Well that among other things happened last Thursday at Cervantes Masterpiece. A line around the street that barely moved until an hour after doors opening, and the void of elbow room foretold the potential of energy from the crowd.
Affected by the “mile high” elevation, marijuana and either the right amount of 40 ounce Colt 45’s or one too many, came the funky and funny as ever Afroman. As lighting transitioned and Afroman came to the stage so did an immediate supportive uproar from the crowd. “Colt 45” was Afroman’s choice of a warm up song, fittingly as he yielded an embezzled chalice in hand filled with the same. The crowd was in for a unexpected ride indicated by faces of amazement as Afroman freestyles over the composition sipping, singing, swaying and smoothly improvising.
The crowd was locked into the set from pure impression as Afroman passed any expectations. Inebriation didn’t effect stage presence or crowd interaction as a comfortable, well practiced but unique experience with twist and turns defined the set. The twist and turns occurred in between songs, spontaneous jokes and anecdotal memories were released for our amusement. From naming all the celebrities people have mistaken him for, to then creatively incorporating each in a freestyle with one liners aimed at the erroneous.
Afroman isn’t a one hit wonder proven by the array of songs performed, and the massive support system there to witness. In the present day he’s been making music, which he showcased with a project he and Snoop Dogg made recently named “Smoke A Blunt With You,” which was released only days ago. Afroman has still got it, the crowd focused, laughing, interacting, bobbing, bowing, still in amazement of the performance quality. Sustaining the energy and continuing throughout his early catalogs exposed his maintained voice and musical practice.
As we went back a year to the album, “Sell Your Dope,” we encountered “Let’s Get Drunk Tonight,” with the addition of a double neck guitar played by Afroman; more fuel. The crowd was mesmerized by this surprise, and the slaying behind the guitar, we entered “tumbleweed,” as Afroman kept shredding before he set the guitar down to finish the song vocally. After which he keep the energy steady by the crowd’s response when his Grammy winning hit, “Because I Got High,” came on. With help from the crowd who would fill in lyrics when pointed the mic towards the crowd.
He continued to a version with different lyrics still comedic but positive like “no more prescription pills, because I got high, no buying from streets it’s legalized,” the finishing touch was the original “Colt 45” which he earlier free styled over and created another sing a long. Whistles, screams and roars followed the leaving of the soulful, funky, hip-hop icon who was a perfect segue to what was next.
First, they let those on tour with them get a few minutes of their spotlight before appearing. Then as they played a sampled clip of an announcer introducing them first came Redman thrown immediately into intense moving and showcasing the lyric rich intricate flows from “The Blackout!” then came Method Man, following the same action. Method Man and Redman are a duo unmatched. Witnessing their hard work essence live brings understanding to the perspective from their era versus the current. The crowd, although mostly millennials had fans from the 70’s in bulk, and Redman announced they’d be covering 90’s era music because he doesn’t prefer what he hears today, the theme being to teach us about hip-hop history.
While the crowd was losing their minds, shoving to get closer, the duo rushed the stage side to side, acting out lyrics, lifting knees in unison with each other, stepping in the same order, as one would finish a phrase the other would lean over him and say his, one would pop from behind the others back and vice versa incorporating each other well, tight as one. An invigorating stage performance, well engineered live sound and flawless lyric memorization showcased 90’s stage etiquette in a nutshell.
They paid respects to others covering Gang Starr’s “Full Clip,” Dead Prez’s “It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop” and The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” testing the range of knowledge in all age groups attending. Each segment of their set was matched with intense energy but different eras of music, and the roars and cheers followed with each surprise. Upon deciding where to take us next they jumped to 2009 with “Errbody Scream.”
While one was preoccupied with a verse the other would grab a bottle of water and empty it over us again and again. Method Man who would enter the crowd to make sure they were sending all attention to the stage, would tell people to put their phones down, calling people out variously to be a part of the show. Now the duo was shedding light on their individual careers taking us back to 1992, Redman pulled his beanie over his eyes and raised the crowds excitement with a few songs from “Whut? Thee Album.” Method Man was laying down on a speaker in the crowd and came back to his 1993 work, “Method Man,” from “Enter The Wu-tang“.
At this point the crowd was bouncing endlessly with the duo, soaked and thrown rags to dry off as if the two tossed would get the job done. Redman briefly stepped outside to cool off after raging nonstop keeping up with the crowd since the top of their set. Taking a break Redman reiterates why he treasures the 90’s era and real DJ’s such as the two they had tonight. One of the DJ’s was DJ Mathematics who was also the creator of the Wu-Tang Clan’s “W”, who would then even perform throughout the set. The other was DAS EFX, to which the crowd roared on realization.
Following reintroduction the DJ’s went head to head briefly scratch battling and showing off individual expertise. Then the duo hit us with “How High,” before asking the crowd how bad the want for the much talked about movie “How High 2,” was, well see. The crowd interaction was widespread and Method Man topped it with a statement made so fast Redman kept asking him to repeat for those who haven’t been to their shows, what he said was, “do y’all know the words to this song, are you going to start a mosh pit and sing along?” With that as tribute to Ol’ Dirty Bastard came “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” the moshing began.
Lastly, the duo brought out more variously related artist who received spotlight time, cheers and participation from a crowd still on fire. Redman brought out his son whose birthday it was, ironically born on April 20th. After which we all rocked to “Shame On A Nigga,” and “C.R.E.A.M.” The duo ran their time till close, tired, beloved and satisfied with a job well done they powered down literally like they were robots deactivated as the lights came down, roars thundered through the venue in appreciation and their team showered us in free merchandise. The duo who’s been coming back year after year since 1992 had done it again.