Admit it or not, the Hip Hop genre has had a deep influence on the culture of music. Certainly today’s Hip Hop artists are continuing to evolve and shape the sounds within the genre, however at its core Hip Hop doesn’t sway too far from its root and foundation of the classic old school sound. Pulling a huge classic lineup together, The Art Of Rap used Treasure Island as the host Saturday evening for a great show that included 50 Cent and Ice-T as dual headliners. On my drive out, I reflected with some of the core tunes of the early days of Hip Hop and Gangster Rap. Arriving to a very full parking lot, the buzz was already in the air for what would unfold to be an excellent evening. Treasure Island itself is such a cool venue to catch a show. Inside the Event Center or at the outdoor Amphitheater, the quality of the sound, lights, and performances never disappoint.
Once at the Event Center, the energy was buzzing along with some pre-show DJ spinning. Merch and wide assortment of drinks were on hand with many partaking. The show kicked off promptly at 7PM and rolled through opening performances by an all-star cast of hip-hop pioneers, including Slick Rick, Too $hort, Biz Markie, EPMD, Das EFX, JJ Fad and Suga Free. All performances were a bit short but all high quality and solid through and through.
After a brief stage update, Ice-T hit the stage. I have to admit, I had only seen Ice-T once with Body Count. The Body Count show was probably one of the most intense performances I’ve seen … intensity that spilled out into the clubs parking lot with police on horses and riot gear. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to see Ice-T in full gangster rap style. There was no disappointment. Ice-T’s delivery is as quick and clear as any in hip-hop, and he’s got sharp performance instincts as well. Song after song, the response from the crowd kept growing. In full style of establishing that he is among the ‘Original Gangsters’, Ice-T pulled out an iconic song wrapping up his set with ‘Colors’. Phenomenal … my mind was blown!
To cap off the evening, 50 Cent hit the stage at 11PM. 50 doesn’t get enough credit for the lasting influence that clearly runs through the hip-hop of today. He wasn’t the first to introduce a heavy dose of sardonic melodies into “gangster rap” but was most certainly one of the most successful, filling the radio with tracks like “Wanksta”, “21 Questions” and “If I Can’t” after testing the water with a slew of mixtapes which heralded a new form of Mafioso rap – one that you could sing-a-long too while still absorbing the embedded bravado. As soon as 50 Cent took the stage the energy in the room amplified into a frenzy. 50’s sound was spot on with tight lyrical delivery. The crowd immediately engaged with loud cheers and dancing throughout the venue.
As I left the Event Center, it was hard not to have the music rolling through my head. The pure nostalgia and great performances of the evening were hard to escape. The Art Of Rap was one for the record book and I can’t wait to see what the next evolution brings.