Tag Archives: bobby mickey

Just Another Typical New York Evening with Dave Chappelle (And Special Guests)

15 Sep

Watching the young Asian man set up his 4 track sampler gave me the feeling that it was going to be one of those nights. The young man started beat-boxing and looping his vocal riffs on top of each other to make beats, vocally sampling Eminem’s lyrics from Forgot about Dre.

For being such a raw production it kind of knocked. The aesthetic was so purely hip hop (and New York) that you had to respect it. He was just a dude with a sampler, making live beats down in the Times Square subway stop. I was only able to see one song before catching the next uptown train to 59th street, but this was a good start. I could just feel it.

I got to Radio City Music Hall early–hoping to receive a “free gift” for being one of the first 100 patrons to get into the building. My math must have  been off by about 15 people because I did not get a “Chappelle at Radio City Music Hall” trucker hat. I did however get into the building right before I shat myself, so that was a huge win (But I guess if you think about it, any day that you don’t shit on yourself should be considered a good day –unless you’re an infant or elderly–but I digress).

I’ve never been the type to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of Manhattan. I yawn at the mere mention of Broadway plays (sorry Daveed) , and I initially dismissed any idea of going to Radio City Music Hall when I first heard Chappelle was working the theater (ticket prices seemed a little steep at 100 dollars but more on that later) for a two-week run.

All it took was for me to walk through the venue doors to understand why everyone was making such a big deal about it. It is a classy joint done up in Art Deco and high marble columns and ceilings. Instead of having restrooms, they have lady and gentleman lounges, and even the urinals look too nice to be pissed in. It looked like the kind of place that black people couldn’t frequent too often until about 50 years ago, and I would’ve never thought to ever come to a show there until Chappelle booked it.

Of course, no swanky party is complete without a jazz band, and we were greeted in the lobby by a Brooklyn jazz quartet covering hip hop tunes by such juggernauts as Pete Rock and Kendrick Lamar. A small crowd gathered near the stairwell leading to the first balcony. I noticed just how many people were dressed up for the affair which hinted to be less of a comedy show and more of an event. I grew excited with each tune, and spent an hour listening to the band while chopping it up with various other jazz aficionados until about 7:45 (I was mistaken for Seahawks football player Michael Bennett more than a couple of times).

Music from inside the theater bled through to the lobby whenever patrons entered and exited the theater area. I finally meandered to my seat to see none other than DJ and comedian, Cipha Sounds (the original DJ on the Chappelle Show) engaging in a beat battle with a DJ from Toronto (still unnamed as of this post). For old school fans of hip hop, they hit the intended nerve, but these weren’t the deepest of cuts. You could almost anticipate which albums they’d throw on next to entice the crowd.

I sat down in my seat and took in the ambiance. There were so many kinds of people in the crowd: white people, black people, Latin people, Asian people, fat people, skinny people, ugly people dressed up, attractive people dressed down, well endowed, buxom women, skinny women with big booties. It was a people watching extravaganza–even for New York City. The theater itself was as nice as any venue I’ve ever been in. It was the kind of place you take a significant other in anticipation of something bigger than a night of coitus.

The opening comic, Ashley Barnhill, went on at almost exactly 8:00. Surprisingly she was from Texas (she claimed San Antonio), but what was even more surprising was that she wasn’t that funny. Her jokes were kinda hacky. Her shock humor and “edginess” that seemed more at home at an open mic or small showcase. They were objectively good jokes, but they came off a bit too mechanical, and predictable.

It was disappointing to hear her trot out such material. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but wasn’t the type of humor one expected to hear for such a monumental gig. You figured that if Chappelle tabbed her to get on that she had to be funny. Unfortunately, most of her jokes fell flat on the mixed crowd, and it was a relief when she finally exited the stage.

Donnell AKA “Ashy Larry” Rawlings saved the evening’s vibe with a solid 15-20 minutes of bawdy humor. If you’ve been fortunate enough to see him do stand up, Rawlings is a lesson in the difference between writing jokes and being funny. Nothing Rawlings said on stage was overly thoughtful, but the man was hilarious.

His comic timing was perfect, as he used his whole body to tell jokes–from the arching of his eyebrows to a change in his vocal intonation. Barnhill was telling jokes, but Rawlings was being funny,and he set the tone for the rest of the night. He killed the crowd and had me in tears with jokes about people who are way more particular about “who made the potato salad” at a barbecue than who they perform cunnilingus on.

Things really took off from there as Yasiin Bey AKA “Mos Def” took the stage. Of Chappelle’s sixteen show run, this was the bill that intrigued me the most (the Chris Rock/Chappelle show was out of the question with lowest ticket prices at 500 dollars to start). Bey had been away some time, and it had been forever since the last time I’d seen him live.

Seeing him onstage again, flanked by two DJ’s, an old school, scraper convertible car (Chevy I think?), and an endless sea of balloons, I suddenly remembered why I unequivocally loved this man. He exudes nothing but love and compassion, while at the same time demanding social fairness and critical thought. If there were ever a human being whose success I could get behind, it was Yasiin Bey. He was the tipping point in my buying a ticket for the 8/23 show, and two songs into his set affirmed every single summer decision I’d made around this night–especially considering that he was reportedly retiring from music this year, making the matter all the more special.

I was just happy to be in the building and I’d never even considered the potential setlist that he would roll out on a night like this. It didn’t even occur to me that there could be a possible “Rick the Ruler” sighting during the evening’s rendition of “Auditorium” until the end of Bey’s verse on the song.

Bey looked to stage left  for half a second, and what do you know? Slick Rick rolls out spitting his verse. The crowd lost its fucking mind–me included. It was here that things took on the element of the surreal. Of course New York and hip hop legend Slick Rick would be available to do a cameo, he from here.

That song ended and before the crowd had even had a chance to gather themselves, Talib Kweli joined the stage for a few songs, as Black Star treated the crowd to a mini-reunion show. Suddenly I was transported to a New York of a different time. Brooklyn got a shout out between each song, and every query in regards to the location of the Brooklynites was greeted by raucous yelling and screaming.

It was like it was 1998 again, but I wasn’t watching the BET or Source Awards on television, I was seeing it in person. Cipha Sounds was just as hype anyone else, dancing along to this music near the side of that stage. I thought that was pretty cool to see. This New York only existed in oral histories and podcasts. The magic was briefly back.

It was only slightly surprising that Common didn’t come out on stage when Bey and Kweli performed  “Respiration” . The opening bars of the song put chills up my spine upon hearing “We New York the Narcotic”, again when Kweli hit the ” I take the L, transfer to the 2, head to the gates” line.

Other highlights from the set were the Biggie/Prodigy/Phife Dawg medley tribute that filled my heart with warmth, and  Yasiin closed the set with a moving rendition of “Umi Says” that almost put me in tears. By the time Yasiin Bey’s set was finished, I’d felt that I’d gotten my money’s worth, and everything else was gravy. I went into intermission thinking my night could end right then and things would be fine.

The fun was just beginning. Bill Bellamy of Def Comedy fame, came out onto the stage and hit us with ten minutes of shit talking. You could tell he was just happy to be hanging out and partying with the fellas (he was constantly interrupted with the sounds of loud popping backstage–which could’ve been champagne OR balloons), and he wasn’t trying to do too much. He threw a few jabs at the audience and warmed the crowd back up.  The highlight of his set was a series of “Head Day” jokes which though were funny, alienated about a 1/4 of the crowd. I liked it though, because I’ve been rocking with Bellamy since before “How to Be a Player” came out. I was just bugging that he was even out there.

As Bellamy walked off, Dave Chappelle’s voice came onto the PA and introduced his “very good friend” Chris Tucker out onto the stage. The audience exploded into applause and then Chris Tucker proceeded to do about 15 minutes of impressions of all of his famous friends. He wasn’t the heavyweight champion that he once was, but he was still Chris Tucker, and I couldn’t believe I was watching him doing a live set.

Just as I wrapping my head around this fact, Chappelle’s voice was back on the PA announcing the comedy legend Jerry Seinfeld. PAN-DE-MONIUM. Of all the performers you would expect to a drop in set anywhere, Jerry Seinfeld was not a name that would come to mind. Chappelle may as well have said Larry David had dropped by to do short set. No one could believe it. I just kept screaming “WHAT?!” over and over again until an usher slapped me back into my body.

Go figure that Seinfeld would end up doing the tightest set of the night. A slightly buzzed, casually slurring Seinfeld did one of the funniest 20 minutes of stand up I’d ever seen. At 63, Seinfeld’s repertoire has not only reached a Carlin-esque level of immortality, but even his examination of linguistics have taken on a professor’s red penned level critique. His observational insights are still clever, but his use of the English language sets him apart from almost 95 % of comics I’ve ever seen perform. Most importantly, he doesn’t give a fuck anymore. He threw nothing but heat at the audience as he got belly laughs, with jokes that somehow managed to offend not a single soul. That in itself is an extremely difficult accomplishment for a comedian. I’ve always been more a fan of Seinfeld the actor than the comic, but seeing this older, slightly unhinged Seinfeld was utterly remarkable.

By the time Seinfeld’s set was over, it was 10:15 and the night was rapidly approaching “best night of my life” status (and easily the most unbelievable). A$AP Ferg came out to the DJ booth and gave a quick shout out, before the opening riff to A Tribe Called Quest’s “We The People” blared on the loud speakers. No fucking way? Is Q-Tip about to play this motherfucker? 

No. Just Dave Chappelle doing and hour and a half set. Dave had a good set. He told cautionary tales of celebrity, lamented the demise of originality and courage in comedy, addressed the backlash to his Netflix specials. It was a typical Dave mixture of cerebral and sophomoric, and it was awesome. I wasn’t even mad that I’d already heard about half of the jokes he told that night. His set felt like a really funny Ted Talk lecture. I felt fortunate just being there. Dave had created an event so unique and special that it was hard to imagine anything remotely as cool going on in New York. This was the place to be. Anyone who has been to New York know this is a feat hard to pull off.

After a series of curveballs and surprises, it was hard to believe that the night was over. But it was 12:45 in the morning, and Chappelle’s “dick was not going to suck itself”, so patrons were sent back into the summer night, taking selfies with the marquee as a backdrop.

Many people walked out of the theater wearing the same shell-shocked glazed look in heir pupils. For the price of a festival ticket, I had just seen Dave Chappelle, Mos Def, Black Star, Bill Bellamy, Jerry Seinfeld, and Chris Tucker. It would cost a hundred bucks (if you were lucky) to see Seinfeld by himself. I would’ve never in my life thought I’d watch him perform live. The same can be said of Chris Tucker. Not only had Chappelle thrown a hell of a party, but we’d gotten more than our money’s worth.

I tried texting my brother about it, and after a certain point he stopped believing me. He thought I was just making shit up. I didn’t blame him though. I sat on the 3 train buzzing from the improbability of the entire evening. It reminded me of the feeling I had when I saw Randy Johnson pitch a perfect game back in college. I was hesitant to even go to sleep later that night. This was a tough high to top, and I was in no hurry to interrupt it. I may have even been slightly afraid that I would wake up and realize it was just one of those long, weird ass dreams I sometimes have. But that is just New York for you. Just one of those rare places where the surreal becomes the real.

 

BM

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @goodassgame. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

 

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Most Perfect Rap Song Ever Written: Shook Ones, Part II

30 May

I was well into my thirties before I saw the infamous rap battle from 8 Mile and I’ve probably watched hundreds of NBA games before I recognized the beat that arenas were blasting on the PA’s. So where was I the first time I’d heard Shook Ones, Part II? Honestly, I have no idea. But I do distinctly remember the exact moment that I realized that Shook Ones Part, II was quite possibly the most perfect rap song ever written.

My relationship to Mobb Deep’s music is analogous to going to high school with someone you knew of in high school, but didn’t start hanging out with until realizing you were classmates on the first day of community college. The first time I’d even heard of Mobb Deep was 2Pac’s dissed em on “Hit Em Up.” Other than Nas and Wu-Tang Clan, I wasn’t messing with too many east coast artists. My music tastes emulated my older cousins’ who were listening to west coast rappers like Ice T, N.W.A., Too Short, and we of course supported all the down south rappers that were popping at the time.

I could lie and I say that I loved Notorious B.I.G. but, Puff Daddy’s presence made anyone from the Bad Boy camp suspect to me—I wasn’t feeling Biggie until well after he died. I got into Mobb Deep much much later, but the first song and video of theirs to make an impression on me was the late 90’s single from the “Murda Musik” album, Quiet Storm. It would take a few more years and multiple visits to New York City for me to actively study east coast rap, but when I finally listened to The Infamous, (and subsequently Shook Ones) I got it.

 

One of the first things that jump out at me is that Mobb Deep was only 19 when they made this album. This blows my mind. I too wrote raps when I was 19, and the nicest bars I ever wrote were:

 

I’m not a genie/ I can’t grant you 3 wishes/ but rub my lamp hard enough/

And I’ll grant  you 9 inches

~Polished Skillz

 

Pretty deep huh?

 

Hip Hop has always been a product of its environment and in the 1990’s, New York had taken a turn for the darker. The music reflected this turn, as gritty acts like Wu-Tang, Biggie, Jay-Z, Mobb Deep, represented a side of New York that you couldn’t find on Times Square. Acts like Big Pun , Boot Camp Click. Black Moon, Heltah Skeltah, Capone N Noreaga, Nas (at least his first 2 albums) epitomized the mid 90’s sound that we associate with New York. New York City to country bumpkins like myself  was a place where you only went to get mugged, stabbed, shot, or freeze to death. The grim perspective in Mobb Deep’s Shook Ones does nothing to dispel those early teenage myths that I once held.

The lyrics in this song are some of the starkest ever put to paper, giving us a peek into the realities that most Queensbridge youth faced on a daily basis (former NBA stars Ron Artest, Elton Brand and Lamar Odom all hail from Queens and have their own stories to tell from this time period).

As a high school teacher, I’ve occasionally sat a young teen down and forced him to digest the lyrics for Shook Ones–just to give them some perspective. The song’s hook  is a warning to any phony gangsters, wanna be ballers, and fake tough guys. The first verse by Prodigy is one of the nicest bars ever put to wax.

 

 

 

 

I got you stuck off the realness, we be the infamous

you heard of us

official Queensbridge murderers

the Mobb comes equipped with warfare, beware

of my crime family who got nuff shots to share

for all of those who wanna profile and pose

rock you in your face, stab your brain wit’ your nosebone

you all alone in these streets, cousin

every man for theirself in this land we be gunnin’

and keep them shook crews runnin’

like they supposed to

they come around but they never come close to

I can see it inside your face

you’re in the wrong place

cowards like you just get they’re whole body laced up

with bullet holes and such

speak the wrong words man and you will get touched

you can put your whole army against my team and

I guarantee you it’ll be your very last time breathin’

your simple words just don’t move me

you’re minor, we’re major

you all up in the game and don’t deserve to be a player

don’t make me have to call your name out

your crew is featherweight

my gunshots’ll make you levitate

I’m only nineteen but my mind is old

and when the things get for real my warm heart turns cold

another nigga deceased, another story gets told

it ain’t nothin’ really

hey, yo dun spark the Phillie

so I can get my mind off these yellowbacked niggas

why they still alive I don’t know, go figure

meanwhile back in Queens the realness is foundation

if I die I couldn’t choose a better location

when the slugs penetrate you feel a burning sensation

getting closer to God in a tight situation

now, take these words home and think it through

or the next rhyme I write might be about you

 

[Chorus:]

Son, they shook…

’cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks

scared to death, scared to look

they shook

’cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks

scared to death, scared to look

 

livin’ the live that of diamonds and guns

there’s numerous ways you can choose to earn funds…earn funds

some of ’em get shot, locked down and turn nuns

cowardly hearts end straight up shook ones…shook ones

he ain’t a crook son, he’s just a shook one…shook one

 

[Havoc]

For every rhyme I write, its 25 to life

yo, it’s a must the gats we trust safeguardin’ my life

ain’t no time for hesitation

that only leads to incarceration

you don’t know me, there’s no relation

Queensbridge niggas don’t play

I don’t got time for your petty thinking mind

son, I’m bigga than those claimin’ that you pack heat

but you’re scared to hold

and when the smoke clears you’ll be left with one in your dome

13 years in the projects, my mentality is what, kid

you talk a good one but you don’t want it

sometimes I wonder do I deserve to live

or am I going to burn in hell for all the things I did

no time to dwell on that ’cause my brain reacts

front if you want kid, lay on your back

I don’t fake jacks kid, you know I bring it to you live

stay in a child’s place, kid you out o’ line

criminal minds thirsty for recognition

I’m sippin’ E&J, got my mind flippin’

I’m buggin’ think I’m how bizar to hold my hustlin’

get that loot kid, you know my function

cause long as I’m alive I’ma live illegal

and once I get on I’ma put on, on my people

react mix to lyrics like Macs I hit your dome up

when I roll up, don’t be caught sleepin’

cause I’m creepin’

 

[Chorus:]

 

Son, they shook…

’cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks

scared to death and scared to look

(he’s just a shook one)

they shook…

’cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks

scared to death and scared to look

(we live the live that of diamonds)

 

they shook…

’cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks

scared to death and scared to look

they shook…

’cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks, crooks..

 

livin’ the live that of diamonds and guns

there’s numerous ways you can choose to earn funds…earn funds

but some of ’em get shot, locked down and turn nuns

cowardly hearts end straight up shook ones…shook ones

he ain’t a crook son, he’s just a shook one…shook one

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah

To all the villains and a hundred dollar billas

To real brothers who ain’t got no dealings

G-yeah, the whole Bridge, Queens get the money

41st side (he’s just a shook one)

keepin’ it real (you know)

Queens get the money…

 

There is a hunger that comes through in their lyrics, overlaying one of the most sinister, nastier beats to come out of that era. Havoc and Prodigy created a ubiquitous masterpiece that has stood the test of time. Not only is it one of most perfect rap songs ever written, it just so happens to be one of the realest.

 

 

BM

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com.