Godfather of hip-hop and Zulu Nation chief, Afrika Bambaataa was grinning ear to ear on Thursday, September 4 as he took in the view from on high (the upper level) at Irving Plaza in NYC. Vinyl junkies DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist were in their element that night, celebrating the legacy of one of hip-hop’s most celebrated pioneers. For more than 90 minutes, the two shared hand-picked classics from Bambaataa’s personal collection of over 40,000 strong with a sold-out crowd as visuals of NYC during hip-hop’s prime (courtesy of acclaimed video director and producer Ben Stokes) provided the perfect backdrop.
Edan and Paten Locke warmed up the crowd with some tricks of their own, including shared control of the turntables and microphone with the added extra of Edan showing off his controlled, masterful use of a Theremin. Their set was chocked full of hard-hitting freestyle rhymes, psychedelic rock and alongside the random hum on a kazoo (courtesy of Edan). And the crowd loved it – hollering and applauding the pair as they exited the stage.
Soon after, the lights went down. It was time. DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist seemed to appear from nowhere, finding their positions behind six turntables with crates of records at their sides. After acknowledging Bambaataa’s presence and giving a quick introduction into how the Renegades of Rhythm tour came together, the two pressed the first run of records down onto the decks and the floor began to move.
MC extraordinaire DJ Shadow picked up the mic several times throughout the set to thoughtfully introduce each section, dividing the night into genres from funk to disco to dancehall to the man himself as recording artist: “Miami bass – a genre that arguably wouldn’t exist without Bambaataa.” Cut Chemist threatened to come down into the crowd and help form a b-boy circle if the old school hip-hop vibes failed to inspire b-boys and b-girls in the crowd to make it happen.
It was hard to ignore the smile that came into view each time the room lit up and reminded everyone that the Master of Records was in the house. When the first few bars of “Planet Rock” dropped in, an already raucous crowd turned it up another notch. Being there in that space that night was a once in a lifetime opportunity, which thousands around the country will experience over the next month with the tour wrapping up in Vancouver, BC at the Commodore Ballroom on October 9.
9/1 – Toronto, ON – Guvernment
9/3 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
9/4 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza
9/6 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts
9/8 – Washington, DC – The Fillmore Silver Spring
9/9 – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Soundstage
9/11 – Charlotte, NC – The Fillmore Charlotte
9/12 – Atlanta, GA – The Loft At Center Stage
9/14 – Orlando, FL – House of Blues
9/16 – New Orleans, LA – House of Blues
9/18 – Austin, TX – ACL Live
9/19 – Dallas, TX – House of Blues
9/20 – Houston, TX – House of Blues
9/22 – Louisville, KY – Mercury Ballroom
9/23 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues
9/24 – Minneapolis, MN – Skyway Theater
9/26 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
9/27 – Aspen, CO – Belly Up Aspen
9/29 – Las Vegas, NV – Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas
10/1 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues
10/2 – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues
10/3 – Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Palladium
10/7 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
10/8 – Seattle, WA – Neptune
10/9 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom