Saturday night, Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom was overflowing with hip hop heads, of all ages and ethnicities eager to witness one of hip hop's legends and pioneers KRS One as well as some of the OG members of Pharcyde. Mr. Vegas also performed in the connecting venue transforming Denver into little Jamaica. Luckily the lineup was so superb because the opening acts were abysmal. People were walking out left and right as this perpetrating white dude desperately tried to keep the crowd engaged. By 1130PM I was ready to leave altogether but the evening turned around once the clock striked 12.
Pharcyde took the stage first and provided an incredible performance of some of their major hits "Passin' Me By," "Runnin'" and "Drop." Their performance was live filled with real and coordinated dance moves, genuine interactions with the crowd and a beautiful sense of humbleness and grace. Kid Cudi recently addressed his disappointment with rap performances these days after the cancellation of Rock The Bells. He exclaimed that RTB fell off because "hip hop shows aren't exciting...people wanna smile and dance." Witnessing Pharcyde's dynamic and upbeat performance, all I could do was smile and enjoy myself. Pharcyde also had a segment where they played hip hop records that inspired them and the crowd went crazy rocking to "O.P.P." and "Award Tour" celebrating hip hop while also bigging up KRS One and their beloved producer J Dilla.
Mr. Vegas came on in the next room and it was a sight to see. Women were whining all over the dance floor and men were busting out their best moves. Complete with a bruk it down competition, some Kartel, Bob Marley and Mr. Vegas' classics, the performance was truly a Jamaican party set in Denver. I had never experienced that kind of international energy in Colorado until Mr. Vegas blazed the stage the way he did and it was intoxicating.
Finally by 130AM, KRS One made his appearance and it was well worth the wait. Freestyling, old school flow, and hip hop classics, it felt like the 80s and we were all in the Boogie Down Bronx in on a cypher. It was magical. Also KRS One's Jamaican roots being a major influence on his sound seamlessly tied together Mr. Vegas' dancehall performance as well as Pharcyde's classic hip hop celebration. He was the bridge of both worlds. "Sound of Da Police" was the highlight of his set as literally the entire audience joined in screaming the sirens while KRS commanded attention.
The evening, although with an incredibly late start, was enlightening. Hip hop has changed so much since its debut and a lot of people are praising Kendrick for his recent raw and uncensored verses and cyphers where he calls out his fellow rappers and disses other ones, but that's not what real hip hop is about. Its honoring the genre, celebrating each other and elevating the art. And Pharcyde and KRS One demonstrated that beautifully. Artists are too cocky and self-proclaimed to ever play music other than their own in their set, but it was truly humbling to see the generosity of each of the acts. I am all for shaking up the industry, but Cudi was right, rappers don't perform like they use to. The artists left everything on that stage and I left feeling no longer tired, but full of inspiration and joy for the genre that I am so in love with.