At the end of their set last night at Cervantes', DJ Premier's Houston Astro's hat was dripping with sweat, while Pete Rock appeared to have barely broken one. Over the course of their set, though, the two matched wits furiously playing through the genres before going into their signature songs and reminiscing over past artists and even breaking out some TV jingles. But their exchange had less of a battle feel and felt more like a big house party.
The legendary DJs started off with some familiar classic rock songs like "The Wall" and "Cold as Ice," basically warming up the crowd and going back and forth with each other, Premier playing "I Wanna Rock" and Pete Rock matching with "Start Me Up." Pete Rock seemed to grab the crowd throughout the night more than Premier, who went through his whole catalogue of Gang Starr songs, as well as songs he's produced like, "Nas is Like," and "Ain't None of Yall Better."
The highlight of the evening came when the DJs gave a nod to famous sampled hip-hop songs by playing the original instead. Premier started with Leon Haywood's, "I Wanna Do Something Freaky to You," most famously interpolated on Dr. Dre's, "Ain't Nothing But a G Thang." Pete Rock countered with Monk Higgin's, "Little Green Apples," sending the crowd into a frenzy, it being one of Gang Starr's classics, "Code of the Streets."
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The duo later went into a set of songs that paid tribute to fallen rappers, starting with Biggie, going through Big L, and stopping the music to remember Heavy D, before playing a Premier-produced track with the rapper, "Yes Ya'll." Pete Rock's best moment was when he had the whole crowd singing the trumpet lead on he and CL Smooth's cut, "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)"
The show ended with Premier and Pete Rock going back and forth with a TV show theme song collage of sorts -- comprising tunes from shows like The Adam's Family, Different Strokes, The Twilight Zone, Night Court, and, of course, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air -- which was interesting for the first couple songs but ended up losing the crowd after a while.
Before Pete Rock and Premier closed things down, the night started off with Fisk (Fresh2Death), blending hard dub bass lines with different hip-hop a capellas, including an interpretation of a Notorious B.I.G. track. Mike Thunder raised the energy a few notches as the room filled to almost half capacity, dropping hard basslines at first then breaking into a up-tempo funk and hip-hop blend, heavy on the brass section. He ended his set with a decent scratch solo.
The crowd's energy peaked for the openers during MU$A's set. By the time MU$A took the stage, the crowd was buzzing with anticipation. He told the crowd he had to refrain from the headliners' tracks but would be playing some B-sides and other classic tracks. His set included cuts like "Rebel Without a Pause" and Big Daddy Kane's "Ain't No Half Stepping," which earned the adoration of the crowd.
Highly animated and dancing behind the tables, he hit stride, preparing the crowd for the headliners with "Simon Says," running it back a couple times and stopping to get the crowd to scream for Premier and Rock. Mu$a ended his set after a couple delays but left the crowd by giving an insightful monologue about individuality saying, "Stand up for who you are, don't let anyone tell you who to be."
Personal Bias: I expected more scratching, mash-ups and rare songs from these two legends. Although their skills are still sharp, it seemed more like hanging out at a friend's house with the two playing records back and forth.
Random Detail: A ton of talented cats from the scene were in the house, including Gyp da Hyp, DJ Bedz, Dent, Mike Wird, DJ Cavem, Food Chain, Ill 7 and more. DJ Bedz was in the front row getting down; it good to see people that work so hard enjoy themselves as fans for a change.
By The Way: The show lasted beyond 2:45 and DJ Premier and Pete Rock stuck around after and signed autographs for fans, many of whom had records and old concert posters to sign.
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