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Monday, May 24, 2004

Concert Review: Weapons Of Mic Destruction Tour feat. MOP, Pharoahe Monch, Cormega, et. al @ Ottobar, Baltimore 5/22/04

Collectively the three headliners have about a dozen near classic albums under their belt, and, not to get too KRS One on y'all, I really couldn't think of a better lineup to represent the full realization of hip hop ideals modernized for the 21st century. And the eclectic crowd reflected this, as everyone from the hardest of the rocks to the nerdiest of the nerds and all the backpackers, neo-soul bohemians and hipsters in between were in attendance. And it was a mostly peaceful affair, aside from the purposeful MOP induced mosh pits. I had never been to the Ottobar before, but it was much smaller than i had expected. And like any other rock venue hosting a hip hop act, the sound was pretty much shit. Still it was a dope outing overall, catch this tour if it hasn't already come to your city. Full multimedia implementation via shitty pictures from my outdated digital camera with a bad flash.

Smiley The Ghetto Child
                                       & DJ  Nino Carta
3rd Generation Gang Starr Foundation affiliate Smiley The Ghetto Child opened up with a super brief set, and the beats were just pure fire. For those who were dissapointed with Primo's work on the Gang Starr album need not worry, as it seems Preem was saving all the heat for this dude. Smiley was mostly entertaining and will no doubt follow finely in the "below average to average mc's with stupid names over dope primo beats" footsteps of Lil Dap.


Scratch of The Roots followed with a skilled but mostly uninteresting beatbox set, running through the classics like "Planet Rock", recent hits like "Grindin" and even catered to the local audience, dropping "Doo Doo Brown". He rocked a tiny sampler as his "mixer" for his pantomime turntables, and yes, he's talented at what he does. But really, once you've seen a dope solo beatbox set you've seen them all. Yes, you can make noises with you're mouth. Good work, fella. Maybe I'm just disillusioned though.


Looking a lot goofier than his mean mug on album covers would have you believe, Cormega was surprisingly happy to be on stage. Like 12 year old on Christmas happy. And when you think about it, it's with good reason. I contest that Mega is the most comfortable man in hip hop right now. He has it all - street credibility, underground credibility, an impeccible track record of recordings, and a super die hard following. While more mainstream artists struggle to maintain their underground integrity and more underground artists struggle to maintain a fucking record deal - just take a quick look at the current status of the other artists who outbilled him on the tour, Monch with a complete album shelved by rawkus and MOP being permanant near legends in the game being put on the backburner by roc-a-fella in favor of Young Steff. Cormega, on the other hand, has an absolutely diehard fanbase, and is surely seeing a fair share of indie loot. He opened with his now classic "Affirmative Action" verse (no mention of where he currently stands on his ever fluxuating beef with his former boy Nasir), mostly ran through material from his last two albums (sorry i recognize all those joints but I don't know any of the track titles, except "American Beauty", which he didnt do), and he was pushing his new Legal Hustle mixtape hard. His shit was high energy, no hype man, but all too brief, clocking in at no more than 15 minutes or so, although we later discovered that this was probably a result of a bullshit 1 AM curfue... uhh... fuck baltimore. Anyway, Cormega's the fucking dude, please support him, I don't think I've ever seen such a glowing, genuine love for hip hop come from an emcee in concert.

Pharoahe Fuckin' Monch

Backed by a female and a male backup singers, and rocking a very questionable "Love Machine" T-Shirt Monch then followed with a fairly by the numbers set, I saw him about a year and a half ago do almost the same shit. He mostly performs the "hits" (i use the term loosely when refering to anything that's not "Simon Says") - "Right Here", "Fuck You", "Oh No", the hook from "My Life", etc. and then sprinkles joints where he "takes the audience to the future", by performing joints from his probably never to be released Rawkus record Inner Vision - including a very Alchemist sounding joint (like a "We Gon' Make It" Pt. 2), one so-so pimp strut anthem entitled "On The Blackhand Side" and a bomb joint with a bass heavy, Jay Dee sounding clap-instead-of-snare beat with a hook that goes "We can get down / Somewhere between 'Soul on Ice' and 'Soul By The Pound'". The real kicker was the SA-RA produced single from about two years ago, "Agent Orange". For those who still haven't heard it, scroll the fuck down. Still I don't know how far into the future this is really taking the audience, considering he's been performing these joints for at least a year, but they do show a ton of potential for an album that we probably will never hear. But I know some heads (yours truely) would rather see him take things into the past and do some goddamn organized konfusion shit already! Talk about a fucking cocktease (no homo), prior to Monch's encore, the DJ dropped the "Stress" instrumental, only to kill it in favor of another new joint. Aceyalone once said he refuses to perform Freestyle Fellowship songs in concert as it dilutes the importance of the music the crew made, still even he throws the crowd a bone with his solo shit from the FF albums ("Cornbread"). If Monch would at least give us "Thirteen", I'd be content. Never the less, seeing Pharoahe spit a verse is like a religious experience, the motherfucker catches the holy ghost when he's on the mic, he's probably one of, if not the best technical emcees of all time.


It was hype women Fox's (the raspy throated chick you probably assumed was a dude) birthday and the crew was wylin' out accordingly, although I assume that's the way the wyl out every night. Really though, it was all you could hope for from an MOP concert - "How About Some Hardcore", "Downtown Swinga", "4 Alarm Blaze", Jay's "You Don't Know" Remix and, of course, "Ante Up". What more can I say? Could you really imagine hearing these songs on a loud ass system and not bugging the fuck out? A couple points though` - this was the only show on the tour that genuinely suffered from crew-itis. Every other act was hypeman free, but MOP more than made up for it, with about a half dozen of their homies on stage. Also Fame really needs to get some calestenics or something though because dude was drenched in sweat, holding the wall looking like he was gonna die by about half way into the set.

...and then came the band

MOP's Band

I had heard quite a bit about this project, and as I'm sure you heard me rant recently in these very pages, i was none too happy about it. But, to be honest, I was pleasently surprised. Fortunetly, MOP had the sense to only implement these dudes for about three songs new material,as interesting as a hard rock version of "Ante Up" would be, no amount of guitar feedback will get the place as live as DR Periods chops. Despite my prior skepticism that this project would amount to little more than a post-Linkin Park cash in attempt, I've been 100% won over after their performance. This is a logical extension of the Public Enemy/Anthrax collabo or Ice T's Body Count project - true ghetto heavy metal. I am now anxiously awaiting the album, which drops June 8th. COP THAT SHIT. By the way, like every other hip hop act (Atmosphere, The Roots) that wants to prove their rock chops, they did an "Iron Man" interpolation. Do rap dudes know anything other than Sabbath?

smiley's got a 12" out on Fat Beats I believe, with beats by Primo & Showbiz...but the real burner (3rd 'bonus' track) on this joint is this cat named Cashulty rhyming over a beat by Sebb (whoever that is)...u need to hear it if u havent already, pretty nice shit, completely outshines both the other tracks.

that Smiley track is pretty nice, IIRC. Sebb laced up Cage for "Haterama," on some crazy rototom shit. he's got skills.



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