Saturday, October 21, 2006

"They had us jumping in the air and grabbing our nuts"

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Today Just Sayin takes it back to 1993 or so. In a celebration of business, lisps and Makin Dollars, the dude Pico gives us the run-down on last week's EPMD reunion.

Last Saturday at 11:00 PM, I was standing on a line on 42nd Street. The Mets were taking a beating. It was damned cold. Cars were honking, I was already getting tired. The tourists were walking by watching me and the rest of the deep line of near-30, mostly-black folks trying to stay warm. EPMD was about to be in full effect and we wouldn't miss this for a damn thing.

Even though EPMD kept us waiting for an hour. We spent the time standing, checking out the rest of the line to see if anyone had on Timberlands or a fisherman hat, old school like Erick Sermon aka E-Double the Green Eyed Bandit and Parrish Smith the Mic Doctor. And damn it was cold.

When we finally got in, BB King's was packed up with people wall to wall, people shouting EPMD lines. The twenty women in the place were surrounded by their fellas, mostly off of the general admission floor. It was hot in there. Some Big Pun-sized cat was spittin' verses from EPMD songs and he was tight. DJ Scratch got on the turntables and gave us a rap history lesson from the radio days of Red Alert (who was nearby on stage) and Kid Capri (who was nearby on stage) and Funkmaster Flex (who was… you get the picture). Ralph McDaniel was in the house. This jam took me back to how Hot 97 was the dance station with Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam and all that, and you had to find your rap late nights and weekends, after you dug through the Al B. Sure and Luther and Whitney. Back when Public Enemy split your mind open on the regular—but I digress.

Cats from the Cellar Dwellers and Lords of the Underground were in the spot. Special Ed was, also, and he drank in the cheers from the stage. And stayed up there a little too long, like he missed people knowing his name and feeding his ego. DJ Scratch kept playing and the Big Pun cat kept rhyming, every lyric on point, from Audio Two to Ed OG and on and on.

But when DJ Scratch started making comments about how he was going to fill up time, and it was almost 1:00, and he was re-referring to DJ's… we started getting agitated. Big Pun was yelling at the stage and I told him he should get up there and tell them to just give him the backing beat and he'd do the songs.

The Hit Squad hit about 1:15 and Keith Murray dropped his complex rhymes. He was all right, but started elaborating about his drama with Prodigy and we didn't care that much. He jumped into the crowd until the BB King's people told him not to, with Murray replying "No no no, man, I ain't gonna do that no more" into the mic. He stared out like a man fixing to get his knuckles bloody. Keith is severe. He's that little cat in the playground who you know will fight you dirty and he's just looking for an excuse.

EPMD busted out with "It's Your Thing" and "You're a Customer" first and they were razor sharp. The crowd was jumping and impressed, yelling the words out. Erick and Parrish seemed genuinely happy to be there, even surprised at the reception. Neither of them played hard and acted like they expected it. Erick looked wider than ever and Parrish looked like he'd been working with Erick's diet. Those two hefty cats in fisherman hats and the Tims laced and the black hoodies though… they were serious.

They played "Crossover," "Rampage," "So What'Cha Sayin'," "You Gots to Chill," lots of hits. They had us jumping in the air and grabbing our nuts. Erick kept getting paranoid "they want us off the stage? Yo, we need to get off the stage?" which makes me wonder if he's still all right. He did drop the freestyle line of the night—"your rap careers are like Tupac backwards, c-a-p-u-t." Parrish kept telling us that rap music isn't dead, east coast isn't dead. I didn't know it was dead, but all right, Parrish, it's your thing.

They busted out the "Headbanger," last, and they busted out Redman. He was decent, but reluctant on stage. He ripped off "Tonight's Da Night" and a little of "Time for Some Action Akshun," with Keith Murray playing his bouncing sidekick a little too gleefully. He stage dived the crowd but on the way back up we all heard the thump, th-thump and it wasn't the speakers. Das Efx stepped out for "They Want EFX" and another jibbity jabber song (I can't remember their names, the songs on the first album have no theme outside of Dum Dums and Looseys). And the show broke apart with Redman refusing to do another song and Keith Murray repeating the monologue/ slowed down rhyme he started the show with. When the crowd didn't react, he stood there all dumbfounded.

Then the lights went up. I'm still swaggering today.