WRITTEN BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. OF RePPiN4U
HISTORY IN THE MAKING.
At this time, I feel bad for the people who did not make this show. I shouldn’t, but I do. In the early part of this decade, De La Soul were teasing signs of a long-awaited return to give fans that well needed fresh air… first the Dilla EP, then they had their ‘tribute’ to the Wu-Tang Clan, which I had to put in quotes because it was the true tribute, but was overshadowed by a certain Canadian light-skinned, high-pitched voice artist whose so-called tribute was about checking a girl in a club (??????) and wanted to ‘controller’ from the ‘Hotline Bling’. Then they proved that they still ‘God It’ with Nas. South Park poked fun at the Kickstarter concept, but one good thing came out of it – De La Soul’s new album ‘And The Anonymous Nobody’. What do you think was going to come next? An impending tour.
The news broke about the tour in the later months of 2016… yeah you know, that year which was ridden with celebrity deaths, the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and the end of the Obama era going into the Trump era. So many people caught up in all of that, and De La Soul were more concerned about coming to the UK. I rephrase the opening statement. a part of me feels bad for those who did not make the show…
De La Soul arrived on British shores, and met a woman with bad wind whose name was ‘Doris’. They are used to hurricanes, rain hail snow and earthquakes… they were not about to be fazed by someone named DORIS????
Entering the sold out O2 institute a little before 8:15pm and Jungle Brown took the stage for a lengthy 45 minute set, which was well deserved because these guys had an impressive track record of artist openings. The likes of Big Daddy Kane and Ghostface Killah to name a few is more of a who’s who. Performing their big tunes including H.I.S.T.O.R.Y, their style complemented the main attraction and the audience without having to pull out the secret weapon of the crowd cheering along to the disapproval of mumble rap.
In between sets was very unusual, there was no DJ in between to keep the crowd hype for 30 minutes while waiting on the arrival of the trio. The weird thing about that was the 30 minutes flew by, well at least in my mind.
Not a second after 9:30pm, DJ Strike takes the turntables and announces that DJ Maseo was not in effect which was a shame, but Posdnous and Dave jumped on stage!
NOTE TO SELF: ALWAYS BUY A STANDING TICKET. EVEN IF YOU HAVE PHYSICAL DIFFICULTIES.
Performing their signature hits such as ‘Oooh’, ‘Much More’ and ‘Stakes Is High’, they took a moment to stop and acknowledge the six people sitting upstairs and ridiculed them all in good fun. Now while I found this entertaining and hilarious as did everybody else, I seem to recall a certain ‘college dropout’ who was associated with a woman who engaged in carnal activity and put it out for the world to see, getting cursed out by social media for doing the same thing. Just goes to show what we are like behind our devices.
Another great highlight was Pos & Dave acknowledging J Dilla, Phife Dawg and Sean Price, but they feel the same way as Busta Rhymes when they proclaim why we as people appreciate people more after they gone rather than while they are here. Busta said that and I agree 100-1000! Unless I’m a true fan of someone I’m not quick to throw YouTube videos all over my timeline when somebody returns to the essence!
HISTORY ABOUT TO UNFOLD…
However Birmingham was not ready for the element of surprise and maybe the biggest highlight of the night. Just after performing a verse or two of ‘Buddy’, Pos & Dave big up all their fellow Native Tongues. Unknowing to most, Black Sheep Dres was lying in wait! Birmingham is not used to surprise guests coming through to blaze the stage. Usually that honor goes to London or Manchester. In a capacity crowd full of people of all ages, it was the 40 and over portion of the crowd in complete disbelief and comprehending who they are witnessing on stage performing their favourite hits. When it came to ‘The Choice is Yours’ however…the younger portion of the audience were about to be schooled…
For 20 years, I had been clubbing, and the DJs would always play the same tired songs, particularly that Faith Evans/FatMan Scoop track. Easily top 5 all-time club classic yet annoying track. On this day, I was proud to see the younger audience finally realising that the voice behind ‘Engine Engine #9’ was standing in front of them and bringing the true essence. Yes it might have took them a moment to realise the part with FatMan Scoop asks
‘who’s f**k!n tonight’ was not coming! Dres & De La had the whole capacity crowd laying low anticipating to jump up after ‘pick it up, pick it up!’ during said portion of the song apart from one person with a glaring white coat on who De La single-handedly pointed out in ridicule! This is an old school jam! Not your usual show where all the stars can see on stage were your phones! (Even though that happened too…standard procedure!)
Usually the surprise guest will leave the stage after their moment but not Dres, and De La wouldn’t want it any other way. He became their unofficial hype man for the remainder of the night, but at 10:15pm I don’t know who De La were fooling trying to say goodbye and peace to the crowd after performing ‘Saturday’ and leaving the stage… nobody budged. De La realised the crowd were not taking the bait and came back out. Finally finishing on ‘Me Myself & I’ and ‘Name & Number’, De La & Dres closed their hour set…
As I constantly hum the track featuring Estelle while gathering my closing thoughts, even if the show went on for another 30 minutes, it would not be enough to cover three decades of great innovative music from De La Soul, so yes, I’m guessing everyone left the O2 Institute with a bittersweet feeling of what track they wanted De La to perform. In my case, being the current purist I am, I wanted to hear at least ‘Pain’ or ‘Royalty Capes’ from the new album. Or ‘I C Y’all’ from AOI. Being as it was a sold out event, I was surprised, disappointed and almost remorseless towards those who couldn’t make it. Yes I feel bad for them but as I write this, the remorse level decreases. On this night, I witnessed history. Two acts for the price of one, and I knew of this show in the closing months of 2016… so to that I say this to quote a De La Soul hook: “If money makes a man strange, we have to re-arrange that…”