DJ Premier has produced for some of rap and hip hops biggest names; Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Jay-Z, Big L to name a few. However, I feel as if his better stuff comes from songs he produced for his underground/lesser known artists; Afu-Ra, Jeru the Damaja and Royce da 5’9 to name a few more.
Representing Brooklyn (but born in Houston), Premo is well known for his beats that infuse vocals from various songs in order to create verses, instrumentals from older jazz, funk and soul artists, and even artist’s past works in their new tracks. I don’t think he needs any further introduction.
First artist I present you is Jeru the Damaja, also from Brooklyn (this ares spits out some damn fine artists) . A lot of his stuff is produced by DJ Premier, such as his entire Wrath of Math CD. This stuff is GANGSTAAA.
The weekend didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned, but Jay’s concert last night definitely made up for all of that. This guy put on a show, for real. Was totally not expecting it to be as good as it was. I was Joined by Pooch from This Bonus Track for the better part of the evening, and left feeling convinced that Jay Electronica had turned a couple of fans into true believers.
The night started off like the vast majority of concerts do: with a below par opening act. Two local dudes attempted to keep the crowd entertained for what seemed like hours, but really for the better part of an hour. Props for giving it a go, but you got a sense of collective relief from the crowd when their time was up.
Next up was a crew (like 20 people on stage) of local artists, a couple familiar but most unknown. Highlighted by some solid verses by Toronto native Rich Kidd, the group achieved far more success in getting the crowd up and moving. Still though, it was apparent that everyone was saving their energy and camera batteries for the main act.
After waiting about fifteen or twenty minutes for the DJs to switch and get setup, we finally got a taste of Jay Electronica. Jay hit the ground running, dropping lyrical excellence over the thumps of the sound system and a mention of his current work on The Act 2 in South Africa! After he went on a mini-rant against feminist haters, it was right back to the music with the excitement growing by the second. Jay concluded the first couple of songs by getting everyone to pay tribute to J Dilla, further demonstrating the class and respect he’s earned as an artist.
Getting the crowd involved from the outset, Jay furthered it a step more by inviting everyone up on stage. With about 60 people up on stage and everyone else clustered at the front of the stage, the concert had suddenly morphed into something else. It was like being at party but there just happened to be someone there who was really, really good at rapping getting everyone’s attention. This arrangement continued on for about 2 or 3 songs until security started to intervene to remove people from the stage. Then in steps Jay Electronica. Not at all pleased with the work of the security officials, Jay calls out one of the guys for aggressively trying to remove a fan. After getting the crowd to participate in a “Fuck You Mike” chant, Jay decides to abandon the stage all together and to perform from the venue floor! Shit just got crazy.
With camera flashes a many, Jay performed from the venue floor in what had to be the highlight of the night for myself. I wished I could remember the exact order of the songs performed, but at that time I was purely living in the present, trying to take in as much as possible. Every track performed saw the artist go in over the beat first followed by the a capella of the second half of each song. Brilliant.
As I made my way for the exit with Jay’s set still ongoing, I was instantly induced to turn around when the sounds Exhibit C came on. As I turned back, I came to witness Jay rapping while crowd surfing on his back. Absolutely insane, with everyone at this point in complete hysteria. I decided to leave (for good) soon after this, with the strong belief that I had just seen Jay Electronica at his best.
The newly signed Roc Nation artist gave one of the best performances I’ve ever witnessed last night. I was surprised at the number of people who turned out in the end (the place was reasonably full, but still far from packed I’d say) considering such a premier talent had decided to come to Toronto. In the end, it was all good as everything came together for a legit night of music. Act 2 anyone?