The evening began with a soulful performance by longtime LIFE Crew ambassadors, Mane Rok and DJ Tense, who performed tracks off of Mane's first solo effort, The Ugly Truth, as well as a few throwback tracks from his earlier recordings.
After an exceedingly long break, which left most of the crowd outside on smoke break, enjoying an evening watching Colfax, Seattle's Jake One and Philadelphia's Freeway took the stage and rocked tracks from their first collaborative project, The Stimulus Package, which dropped earlier this year. While both artists brought ample energy, the relatively sparse crowd was made up of mostly hardcore fans -- although some new fans were definitely born last night, as well.
In true he's-the-DJ-I'm-the-rapper fashion, Freeway stepped aside to let producer Jake One rock some of his most famous beats, including "Rock Co.Kane," which is perhaps one of the hardest and most memorable efforts on De La Soul's The Grind Date. Freeway, meanwhile, paid homage to his days with Roc-a-Fella by performing "What We Do?" which features former label mates Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel.
At the end of their set, the pair indulged the crowd, who demanded more, by rocking an encore. The crowd may not have been large, but it was enthusiastic, proving that quality is often much more relevant than quantity.
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CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: Checking out anyone who has rocked with Jay-Z is worth the cost of a concert ticket. Random Detail: Freeway was rocking khaki pants, which was much to the dismay of fellow Backbeat scribe Ru Johnson. By the Way: Freeway looks like local rapper Karma of Jewell Tyme Music.