Friday, October 3, 2008

As the Rhyme Goes On

We missed The Cure concert in New York by about three months (the concert we wanted to see the most) and we didn't get to see the free Q-tip concert the other night at the Knitting Factory (with Busta Rhymes as a surprise guest). Free concerts equal "good luck getting in," especially in the hip hop capital of the world. But last night we were able to attend a concert at the Madison Square Garden that had an all-star line up from the late 80s. Retro Jam 2008 was a showcase of hip hop and r&b stars: Rakim, KRS-One, Keith Sweat and Bobby Brown.

Last night was a big night of hip hop and r&b with the VH1's Hip Hop Honors ('08 honorees including De La Soul and Slick Rick) being taped across the street from us at the Nokia Theatre and the sold out Mary J. Blige concert at Radio City Music Hall. Music options galore in this city.

Yup, the old folks, including us, were out in force - a room full of 30- to 50-year-olds trying their best to to look "suave and fresh" from 1988.

We first heard of the concert three weeks ago and we thought to ourselves, "we have to buy the tickets before it's too late," but we forget about it until yesterday morning. So we scrambled online for tickets. After a few let downs, we secured two tickets in the back of the house for $25 each (the original price was $69.50 each, not bad at all). It sounded sketchy at first because the tickets were so cheap and we had to pick it up from some steak house by Times Squares. But they were legit. Then we were again pleasantly surprised to find out that our original seats in the back were closed off and we were upgraded to the center mid section (which would have been $80 per seat). So our total $50 investment for two tickets panned out to the $160 seats!

The show kicked off at 8 pm on time with the legendary MC, KRS-One. He performed five of his hits including: Black Cop, The Bridge is Over, and Step into a world. His stage performance and years of perfecting his stage act shined as he commanded the audience's attention. His lyrical content of politics, social concerns and self empowerment was delivered with passion. Everyone nodded as he said "your mind is greater than your circumstance." Our mantra right now.

Next up, one of hip hop's pioneers Rakim hit the stage with renditions of his all time classics. Rakim has been out of the music scene for the last 10 years, so it was a long awaited return of one of the best if not THE best MC to hit the stage. His DJ for the night was another legend in his own right - DJ Kid Capri. The two performed for a solid 30 minute set.

Then came Bobby Brown, with people in the audience shouting "bring on Whitney." The last time I saw Bobby Brown in concert I was in elementary school. It was both fun and weird to hear him sing the same songs he did in concert 20 years ago. Wow, where did time go? I'm sure everyone in the audience were thinking the same thing. At times he missed some notes, but his showmanship shined supreme. He sang the crowd-pleasing classics, especially for the couples in the house, hits like Rock 'Witcha, My Prerogative, and Roni. During his Roni set, after saying "I'm getting too old for this. I'm 40 years old," he did his signature "humping the floor" move (which he also did when I saw him at a tender 10 years old). It was a little awkward watching him hump the floor in front of his daughter on stage. He dedicated Roni to his daughter who was celebrating her 19th birthday.

Keith Sweat was the last of the lineup. We weren't too familiar with his songs but he delivered strong vocals and performance, even bringing a bit of Vegas glam with his bedazzled looking sparkly shirt, although we're not sure why the stage was decorated with black leather couches that weren't used at all during his performance. The love songs were working its magic as couples in the audience were holding each other tightly and swaying to the music. The evening closed with all of the stars on stage dancing to Keith Sweat's biggest hit I want her. Then the final surprise of the night - the colorful Flavor Flav jumped on stage and did his signature dance, wearing his signature time piece.

The stage was small and intimate and every performer seemed to have had a strict time limit per performance. The artists definitely wanted to do more songs for us but couldn't.

It's 20 years past and the music from the yesteryear still sound beautiful, especially in this day of forgettable unoriginal music. Our parents used to tell us "they don't make music now like they used to." Parents just DO understand. Maybe we're becoming old farts. And it doesn't feel so bad. Music from the past sound sweeter with time, although we wouldn't call ourselves "retro."

If only we could have seen The King at Madison Square . . .

And how much did a cab right cost from Madison Sq. Garden to our home? $4.