I arrived at Fortune Sound Club just after 11 and stepped up in that motherfucker just-a swingin’ my hair. Coat in check and Red Stripe(s) in hand, I took a spot at the back. Kaboom had taken the stage seconds before we entered. He’s got a lot of moxie. (What am I, from the fuckin’ 1920s?) His original material was pedestrian, but it was one of those nice pedestrians that stops at the corner when you’re driving and waves you on. He had one pretty cool hook, where he and the beat would stutter in unison, but unfortunately those pesky verses came along after that. He was not without skill, but in an effort to rap as fast as possible, he sacrificed clarity and enunciation. It was like if a cheetah was really clumsy. Most of his set was covers of old R&B material anyhow (real Rhythm & Blues, not today’s Top 40 Rubbish & Bullshit), which is always fun. And he was funny. A natural on stage in presence, timing and movement, but his set ran a little long and I’m sure he could tell the crowd was getting antsy for the headliners, especially considering there was one more act to follow. He closed out his portion of the evening by picking up a bus-pan and clearing the empty bottles from the stage, which drew quite a few laughs and probably a few more people’s empties than he would’ve liked. Kaboom was a very likable dude, and I felt bad watching him cut the right wire and defuse his own set.
Kaboom stayed on stage for one more song, performing alongside Cheek. No? Chest? Hmmm…Oh yeah! Chin! Armed with a guitar, a beatbox, a flute, tablas, a faux-hawk and an epic beard, Chin and his pal were weird as hell and brimming with volcanic talent. (Sorry, Iceland!) I was thoroughly entertained. Their cover of What I Am was great. They may have gone a song or two too long for the crowd’s liking, but overall, I think everybody felt like they were witnessing something truly original. The tabla player, (or as Chin dubbed him, “India’s version of a DJ”), was rad! If anyone heard his name correctly, can you leave it in the Comments section? I have a problem with mishearing things so that they’re cooler than what’s actually said, and I could’ve sworn they were called ‘Chick & Meal,’ which is fucking awesome. Chin is still a pretty rad name, so I’m hoping whatever the other name is lives up to the hype.
A brief set by DJ Kemo, with a slight assist from Red Stripe, had me give up my post and move to the front. It also had me rapping along, drunkenly and loudly, to every classic track that came out of those speakers. Kemo basically spun a way more intricate version of an iTunes playlist I have.
And, here’s what we all came here to see, folks! Greg N-I-C-E and Smooth Bee took the stage like a goddamn hurricane (sorry, New Orleans!) and shamed all the cats half their age by having twice the energy level. They quickly employed tricks that are cliche in the hands of others, but just tools of the trade to these old workhorses. (Maybe because they were around when the tools were first fashioned…) Instigating a call and response feud between the left side of the room and the right sounds pretty tired, right? Wrong! When every mofo up in that piece obeys the MCs, it’s far from tired. I’m pretty sure the right side won solely due to my contributions to the “Fuck that side!!” chant. They never seemed to hit a dead spot in the set. Whether beatboxing other artists’ classics and letting the crowd scream the verses over top, or almost breaking Jay’s camera (results here) upon diving off the stage and performing a sizable chunk of the set from the crowd, the duo gave it everything they had. And everything we had too.
At one point, during a Smooth verse, we all lost track of Greg Nice. Then: “Yo, Smooth! SMOOTH!” (Everyone looks around, but can’t find the source of the voice.) “What up, Nice?” (Still no sign of him.) “…I’m on a motherfuckin’ sofa!!” (Everyone looks to the sofa-booths lining the outer perimeter of the room.) “S’like I’m in the motherfuckin’ livin’ room and shit!!” I’ve haven’t heard a dude express such joy at standing on furniture since elementary school. On that note – school was then back in session. A mathematic equation was solved by the veterans from the crowd. (The answer, FYI, was 420.) Motherfucker, we haven’t even begun to start! The standout moments are yet to come…
3) Hip Hop Junkies - One of the most covered, homaged and sampled opening verses ever! Greg Nice at his hypest, (which is pretty damn hype!), and the ever-grinning Smooth sounding exactly like he does on record. If a stick of butter had a voice, it would sound like a lifelong smoker next to his ass. Double true!
2) Dwyck – A Gang Starr/Nice & Smooth song was the perfect place to send some love up to (recently) deceased homey Guru. Followed by a rant about how that no-longer-welcome-in-hip-hop ratfink Solar took advantage of a legend at his deathbed, which led to a crowd approved repeat performance of Dwyck. RIP Guru.
1) Sometimes I Rhyme Slow – Pitch perfect. Met with thunderous applause from the first strain of the sample, they hit every note, every syllable perfectly in sync with every drum hit. Sounding just like it does on the album. No backing track. No loss of breath. I couldn’t have asked for a better rendition of my favourite Nice & Smooth track. Then, when it ended, they pulled a bunch of chicks on stage. Then they did it again. The second song that was performed for a second time. Trust me, I thought it was a weird move too. Until they started the track again, and I found myself buggin’ the fuck out anew, and realized I got to relive the best moment of the show again. So nice, Nice & Smooth had to do it twice…twice!
And that, Kaboom, is how you Kaboom. And shit.
As you were,