Sunday, July 15, 2012
Last night, at the Return of the Hit Squad show in Richmond, it was like hip hop never died. The boom-bap the echoed in the cavernous hall of the former department store now known as the Showplace apparently can raise the dead, just look at this blog today. The emcees that make of the hip-hop collective that left its imprint on hip hop charts in the 1990s all made it to the show, overcoming delayed flights, thunderstorms, snarled traffic caused by a presidential visit and a last minute change in venue. Even the Knuckleheadz, a group whose chance at success was derailed by the squad's violent and unfortunate break-up in 1992, were present, opening squad's set with a spirited and confident presentation.
EPMD, followed, which surprised some of the crowd, who didn't expect to see the headliners so soon. Back in the day, a change in the anticipated line up usually means somebody didn't show up. But they were joined by K-Solo for their second song,"Knick Knack Patty Wack," which was anything but. The rapper has been MIA from the rap scene for years and was probably the performer most people were curious to see. K-Solo yielded the stage to Keith Murray, who had more luck stage diving in Richmond than he did back in 1994, when hit the floor at the Flood Zone. Murray stage persona is barely-managed chaos, yet he never seemed to run out of breath or energy.
Das Efx followed, and the former Virginia State University students haven't lost a step, even if one of them has ditched his locks. The rest of the night continued this way, with members of squad performing a couple of songs, walking off and coming back a few moments later. It was an ingenious way to maintain the energy level of a concert featuring aging b-boys who can still get down, just for not as long.
"This is the Hit Squad," Erick Sermon repeated for the young fans in the audience. "He is a DJ," he said pointing to rap veteran DJ Scratch. "I'm not with the fast boom-bap," the rapper said in brief speech about the current state of hip-hop that reminded the audience of his last name. "And I'm not a hater either, 'cause I got money. But that shit is ignorant!"