One of the fav perks of living in the entertainment capital (arguably) of the world is the myriad of free shows taped here drawing talent from everywhere. Discovering one of my fav rockers, Lenny Kravitz, was scheduled to appear on one of them to promote “Black and White America”, I definitely had to go. “5” is one of my fav albums of all-time so when the opportunity came about to check him out for free, I couldn’t pass it up. After an amusing interview where he discussed celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas holidays being Black and Jewish, he then served as the musical guest doing a handful of new and old songs mixed in. Seeing him live for the first time, he’s everything I expected him to be- magnetic, sexy, soul, funk rock all mixed together. It’s amazing to believe he’s been releasing albums since 1989 but it is so. Ending his mini-set with “Are You Gonna Go My Way”, I immediately pictured myself in the video and danced as such. He would have done more free songs but was cut off by the host. Can’t really complain about that as it was free. His performance confirmed my hope to see him in a solo full-length show in 2012.
After Lenny, then headed downtown to see Black Star. Have seen the hometown boys at Rock The Bells shows before but was curious what their dynamic would be in their own headlining show. Opening the show, Orgone kept the soul, rock, funk vibe up started by Lenny earlier in the night. The audience had a few of the band’s fans but mostly hip-hop heads who were trying to politely listen. They reminded me of Santana as they played a few instrumental tracks featuring the lead guitarist. Wasn’t blown away but thought they were pretty good.
After a few tunes spun by the house DJ which featured LL, KRS, Tribe, Skee-Lo and Ice Cube, Black Star, one of Brooklyn’s best duos, came to the stage. The ethnic mixes of crowds going to see hip-hop shows always intrigue me. Once everyone was on their feet to dance to “Definition”, it struck me that there were all types of folks there including Barbies, Surfer Dudes, NY street corner guys and urban/bohemian mixed chicks (like me). Playing for more than two hours, they did their beloved first album (still good 13 years later), new tracks from an album possibly coming out in 2012 (yay) and their solo classics like “Get By” and “Umi Says”. Interesting to see a racial division in the crowd when they played “Brown Skin Lady” (one of my anthems), as not everyone can identify with this but as they moved onto the next song, the audience reunited again. Each of them freestyled for at least 5 minutes a piece, proving there aren’t many MCs that can compare. Their lyrics are clever, amusing and they play off each other perfectly -Mos more flashy and dancing all around the stage, Talib more laid back and raw. Both proved to be hip-hop philosophers taking your pre-conceived notions like thieves in the night.