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Concert Review: The Bridge Concert Series: Lyricist Lounge @The Kennedy Center

Hip Hop Culture was in full effect at The Kennedy Center on November 19th when The Bridge Concert made a return to the venue. Danny Castro and Ant Marshall were celebrating thirty years of their Hip Hop showcase, The Lyricist Lounge. To concede with the celebration, legendary MCs Slick Rick, Rakim, and KRS One performed. In addition, the incomparable DJ Jazzy Jeff was also on the bill.

DJ Jazzy Jeff served as the opening act for the night and entertained the crowd with his turntablism skills as he took the crowd on a musical journey that encompassed various music styles. Slick Rick was the first MC to take the stage and performed numerous hits. Naturally, Rick took it back to his membership days in The Get Fresh Crew and performed his verses from “The Show” and "La Di Da Di." Rick the Ruler also dipped into his solo catalog performing hits such as "Hey Young World" and closing out his show with "Children's Story." Notably absent from Rick's set though, was my personal favorite, "Teenage Love."

The God MC, aka Rakim, was up next and was the MC I was looking forward to seeing the most. DJ Jazzy Jeff backed up Rakim throughout his set. Sporting Hip Hop attire and commanding the stage with grown man bravado, Rakim's setlist included "Microphone Fiend," "Follow the Leader," "Don't Sweat the Technique," "I Ain't No Joke," and "My Melody." Rakim also found time to perform "Mahogany." He closed out his set with a one-two punch of "I Know You Got Soul" and "Paid in Full."

Danny Castro and Ant Marshall graced the stage and thanked everyone for coming out before the night's headliner, "The Teacha," had his time to shine. It was great to see Castro and Marshall bask in the success of an idea that began as a series of open mic events hosted in a small studio apartment in the Lower East Side section of New York City. The duo mentioned that they are bringing back The Lyricist Lounge Show soon, which I look forward to seeing when it airs.

KRS-One was the night's closing act, and despite some initial sound problems, the fifty-six years young MC entertained the crowd through an assortment of songs from his days in Boogie Down Productions, in addition to his solo catalog. "South Bronx," "Sound of da Police," " The Bridge Is Over," "Mc's Act Like They Don't Know and of course “Jack Of Spades” all had the crowd hype. However, the highlight of KRS's performance was his live freestyle. This event was my first time seeing KRS-One Live, and considering where my head was following the Rittenhouse verdict, I needed some knowledge and KRS more than provided.

If I had one gripe about the show, I would say that it felt a bit rushed, and all of the artists had notable omissions from their setlist. Nevertheless, as the night and positive energy died down, a quote from Common came to mind. "Hip-hop is supposed to help you elevate, or go higher." No matter what happened earlier in the day, my spirits were high when the show came to a close.

Final Grade: B+


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