SLICK RICK @ CITY HALL | 12/31/11
New Year's Eve 2011 was well under way Saturday night before Slick Rick took the stage at City Hall Amphitheater. Dipped in so much iced-out jewelry he could have fed an entire Third World country just with the diamonds in his watch, the Ruler sauntered onto the stage at about ten minutes to midnight. Feeling himself, indeed, Slick Rick was halfway through "La Di Da Di" as the clock struck midnight, foiling the New Year's countdown.
There's no question that Slick Rick is a hip-hop legend. His voice, antics and cool-man style are well noted and documented in tracks like the aforementioned "La Di Da Di," "Children's Story" and a gaggle of other tracks. From a performance perspective, though, on New Year's Eve at City Hall, he mostly just stood in one place with his hand in his pocket, rapping the lyrics and mildly interacting with the crowd.
Fortunately, the audience was so enraptured with cheap party favors, booze and the thumping music in the venue, Rick didn't have to do much to keep folks engaged. Throughout the hour he remained on stage, his moves were a bit robotic, and it seemed not to matter whether the crowd was screaming the song lyrics back to him or being still, as his stoic response was the same.
"Hey Young World," one of Slick Rick's most popular joints, was definitely a highlight as the DJ let the beat drop and the audience roared through the first verse along with him for a nostalgic start to the new year. "Teenage Love" was received just as warmly. It was endearing to see him in person, and his accent sounded just as crisp as ever as he spat the lyrics to the song with a comfortable ease.
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There were a number of soul-sample breakdowns in his set, and it was fun watching Rick seem to have his own personal party on stage singing along with the tracks. Clearly he has a ton of material, and he did all the well-known joints like "I Shouldn't Have Done It," "Girls, Girls, Girls" and a medley that included his "Da Art of Storytellin Pt 1," his collaboration with Outkast.
For hip-hop fans, there's no doubt that even seeing Slick Rick on stage - considering all of his past legal troubles - is a feat in itself. It was a good show because it was Slick Rick, not because he did anything to make it a great show from a stage perspective. When you are a legend of his caliber, though, perhaps it's best to let the music speak for itself.
Personal Bias: My hip-hop fan-girl heart was broken because he wasn't wearing the eye patch, but a pair of opaque black sunglasses instead. By the Way: He was seriously wearing like twelve chains. Random Detail: It was hilariously sad when the music did finally stop and folks were already screaming Happy New Year, having missed the countdown completely. Rick, for his part, jumped right back into rotation.
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