The motto of Hip Hop and you don't stop was in full effect on July 1st in Vienna, Virginia, when Masters of the Mic took the stage at Wolf Trap. As a Hip Hop head, I looked forward to the show primarily due to the mean lineup of artists. The night's roster included Talib Kweli, Naughty by Nature's Treach, Big Daddy Kane, Da Brat, Slick Rick, and headliners Rakim & DJ Jazzy Jeff.
The show began promptly at 7:30, with opening act Talib Kweli rocking through a quick twenty-minute set of hits. Highlights included "The Blast," "Joy," and of course, the Kanye West-produced mega-hit "Get By." This event was my first time seeing Talib live, and I was generally impressed with his performance and interaction. One of the most surprising things about Kweli's performance is the MC known for his activism didn't speak on any current issues.
Treach was next, and the veteran brought his rough and rugged style to the DMV with thunderous applause. Similar to Talib, Treach kept his set short but energetic "Hip Hop Hooray," "OPP," "Uptown Anthem," "Feel Me Flow," and my personal favorite "Jamboree" were all performed with the crowd singing along with word for word. Despite being fifty-one years young, Treach hasn't lost a step and performed with the gusto of a performer half his age.
One of my top five MC'S, Big Daddy Kane, was the third performer of the night. Kane performed snippets from his signature hits which included "Raw," "Smooth Operator," and "I Get the Job Done." I have to say the highlight of Kane's performance was hearing BDK pay tribute to fellow Juice Crew member, the late Biz Markie. I had seen Kane live before, but this time my son was in attendance, so I was looking forward to his reaction to "Count Macula."
The only female on the bill was Da Brat, who I had never seen live. The Chicago native opened her set with a performance of her verse from Total's "No One Else," followed by her Hot 16 from"I Think They Like Me." Highlights from Da Brat's portion of the show included "Not Tonight," "What'chu Like" and closing number "Funkdafied." Perhaps it was her placement in the show; I found Da Brat to be the most underwhelming of the night nevertheless, though she is still better than some of the female MC'S gracing MIC now.
I saw Slick Rick in the fall of 2021, and his stage show hadn't changed too much. Rick, the Ruler, breezed through his set with grace performing hits such as "The Show," "La Di Da Di," and his signature song, "Children's Story." Kudos to Rick for reaching into his bag to perform my favorite track in his catalog, "Teenage Love."
Ra's set was tight and pristine and a great close to the night. The GOD MC, Rakim, closed out the night with assistance from the undisputed turntablist, DJ Jazzy Jeff. Similar to Slick Rick, I had a chance to see Rahim perform back in late 2021. There wasn't too much that Rakim changed in his set from the last show, but I still enjoyed seeing him again.
Despite the short performance times each artist had, the wait times between acts were quick, and kudos to the venue and promoters for a well-organized event. Hopefully, the show can become an annual event for the venue as it was a great night for Hip Hop.
Final Grade: A