Last Friday, the Electric Factory and Goodie Goodie Productions presented a taste of underground hip-hop’s past, present, and future. The concert’s performers included New York’s M.O.P., D.I.T.C. and Afu Ra, as well as Philadelphia’s The Last Emperor.
Delays were a recurring theme of the evening as the show began more than an hour past the scheduled 8 p.m. start time. The absence of legendary DJ Roc Raida allowed an amateur DJ to take away from the show’s atmosphere.
It took an ear-opening freestyle from local favorite The Last Emperor to ease the anxiety of the crowd. Highlights included a collabo with The Fifth Dynasty’s D-Ruck and “Susie Wong,” an ode to marijuana with superior lyricism. After performing “Echo Leader,” which captured the crowd’s attention with its originality, Last Emp ended with an a cappella rendition of “Secret Wars,” a song in which legendary MCs and comic book characters battle.
After another delay, Afu Ra energetically began his set, complete with fire-blowing females and martial arts maneuvers. Despite this energy, he was unable to move the crowd, performing songs such as “Whirlwind Thru Cities” and “Equality,” which featured accompaniment by reggae artist Ky-Mani Marley.
Following another extended intermission, the co-headliners of the show, M.O.P. performed. With producer Laze E. on the turntables, the Brooklyn duo of Billy Danz and Lil’ Fame began their set with “Cold As Ice,” off their current Warriorz LP. They also performed the old favorite “4 Alarm Blaze” and the frenzied classic “How About Some Hardcore.” M.O.P. closed their set with the raucous street anthem, “Ante Up,” and quickly departed, prompting many fans to do the same.
The final act of the evening, D.I.T.C. (Diggin’ In The Crates), was represented lyrically by A.G. and O.C. and producer Buckwild as the DJ. Fellow members Diamond, Fat Joe, Lord Finesse, and Showbiz were missing in action. While O.C. performed up to standards on tracks such as the classic, “Time’s Up,” A.G. was a mild disappointment. Only the rare song, such as the well-known “Soul Clap,” got the crowd hyped. Of course, no D.I.T.C. show is complete without a tribute to the late Big L. A verse from his classic “Ebonics” was played along with the request for the crowd to “Put your L’s up!” in memory of the underground legend.
While the concert had its moments, there were some disappointments. From late arrivals (everyone) to no-shows (Roc Raida, most of D.I.T.C.), and quick departures (M.O.P., The Last Emperor), the majority of the crowd left somewhat dissatisfied. The high points, however, such as a glimpse at The Last Emperor’s potential and an inspired performance by M.O.P., showed the true essence of hip-hop.