Wednesday night at Best Buy Theater was a perfect microcosm of the current state of hip-hop in New York City. The bill featured a couple of up-and-comers, but the highlight of the evening was the reunion of hip-hop legends The LOX. The show–billed as the “5 Boro Takeover” tour–was put together by Metro PCS and the venerable Hot 97. Despite very strong showings from Action Bronson and The LOX, this concert proved that NYC still has trouble getting behind the right artists.
The LOX, Action Bronson Rock Best Buy Theater
Queens emcee Action Bronson has forged an identity as one of hip-hop’s most exciting live performers. The rotund rapper is just as likely to perform from the crowd as he is from the stage. That held true Wednesday night, as Bronson leapt into the crowd for “The Rockers.” He worked his way through fans and ended up in the VIP balcony. Bronson continued his lap around the venue as the DJ cued up “Strictly 4 My Jeeps.”
There was a brief intermission as the rapper made his way back to the stage. After catching his breath, Bronson tossed a few of his signature G-Pen vaporizers into the crowd and closed the set with his epic 80s tribute, “Contemporary Man” and “Amadu Diablo,” the latter of which featured a guest appearance from DJ/producer Party Supplies on guitar.
The collective of Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch have gone by The LOX and D-Block at different points in their career, and each rapper has experienced varying degrees of success as solo artists. It is easy to forget how prolific this group was near the turn of the millennium, but the setlist from Wednesday night’s reunion struck a perfect balance between hit records and street anthems.
About halfway through the set, Sheek Louch mentioned Wu-Block–the group’s recent collaborative album with Wu-Tang Clan. Suddenly, Raekwon emerged on stage to perform his classic, “Incarcerated Scarfaces,” followed by Ghostface Killah delivering his verse from “Ice Cream.” The LOX continued to roll through their catalog. Styles P performed “Good Times (I Get High),” and Jadakiss was joined by Swizz Beatz for “Who’s Real.” The trio closed out the set with “Wild Out” and “We Gonna Make It.” The energy level had hit its peak, and it was hard to imagine how anyone was supposed to follow that set.
French Montana was the last performer on the bill, and that is literally the nicest thing that can be said about his performance. Somehow, on a bill that included far more formidable acts, Montana was tapped as the headliner. When he finally took the stage, that decision became even more bewildering. With a catalog that relies heavily on guest appearances from more interesting artists, Montana lazily performed karaoke-quality renditions of songs like “Marble Floors” and “Ain’t Worried.” It was an unfortunate lackluster ending to an otherwise exciting night of New York hip-hop’s past and present.
Article by Jason Schellhardt