Live hip-hop is a high-wire act with no net. Instead of the net there’s usually a moat full of angry sea monsters, trolls and attack dogs waiting to pounce on a fallen foe. One false step/spit and you’re fodder for the foaming beasts that dwell in the underbelly. When you have vets like DJ Premier and Royce Da 5’9″ (together as PRhyme) patrolling the octagon, even the nastiest troll has to button that lip.
At Ann Arbor’s venerable Blind Pig on a sub-zero late February night, a sold-out house was treated to hip-hop in its rarest form. Of course (as with most hip-hop shows), the buildup started to get excruciating around midnight when the headliners still hadn’t hit the scene. During the warm-up, some drunk girl kept jumping on stage until she was dragged out by security (mopping up the floor with her), then Your Old Droog did a decent short set rocking over classic beats and proclaiming his first album “fire.”
Detroit support came in the form of Boldy James and his extensive crew. They did their unnecessarily longish set and the crowd’s restlessness became palpable. Finally, a little after midnight, DJ Premier took front-and-center to declare real hip-hop was in the building.
Royce’s set combined cuts from the PRhyme album with some of his other Primo-produced classics (“Boom,” “Shake This,” “Hip Hop”), sprinkling in some verses from Slaughterhouse joints.
Primo took center stage again for a dope call-and-response interlude doing live sample flips of his own work and other producers. Peep game:
Royce got direct support from his man Kid Vishis and Mr. Porter and Clear Soul Forces were also reportedly in the mix.
Simply put, hip-hop, live or otherwise, doesn’t get much better.
Some kid literally seized out in the middle of PRhyme’s performance. He fell backward and lay motionless for some 15-20 seconds, people rushed to his aid. Hip-hoppers do give a shit, believe it or not. The kid woke up wide-eyed and sprang to his feet—people were really worried about him for a minute, then a little perturbed by his seemingly miraculous recovery. He might have just been super faded or having a bona fide seizure. Maybe he was just overcome by the “real hip-hop” that the crowd had clamored for.
Here’s one more taste of the evening in “Courtesy”:
These are dark, cold times. PRhyme is a beacon of light and heat. Trolls beware. Trolls be damned.