De La Soul send a message at Showcase

A review of De La Soul at Showcase Live! on August 19, 2009

, Staff

During Wednesday’s show at Showcase Live! in Foxboro, De La Soul sent a clear and simple message to today’s rappers: Respect.

Entrusted with the legacy of hip hop, in the eyes of many rap pioneers it seems as though many acts of today have strayed from the purity of the art form. In an ongoing dispute over the direction of the art and the subsequent culture it bred, many old school artists have questioned the integrity of today’s performers. With over twenty years of rhyming to their credit, De La Soul not only shines as an example of a purer version of the art form but manifests the essence of the hip hop culture itself.&

Celebrating twenty years since their debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, hit the streets, De La Soul hit the touring circuit on their aptly name 20 Years and Rising Tour. Unlike the elaborate and glamorous shows that accompany many of today’s artists, De La Soul hit the stage with two turn tables, three mics and a light show that rivaled an R2D2 nightlight. The show was simple but the performance was soulful.

When Maseo, Trugoy and Posdnuos hit the stage you got the feeling that you weren’t at a rap show. Instead it had the feeling of a friend’s basement where speakers were quickly rigged up, mics were checked and the show would go on until the cops broke it up or someone’s parents came home. It had a classic old school feel to it.

The trio jumped right into their set with “Rock Co Kane Flow”. Trugoy and Posdnuos, acting as captains, broke the crowd down into teams in a test to see where the real hip hoppers were. They were not disappointed when revelers from different areas of the crowd would rhyme along with only Maseo providing the tracks. When “Oooh” came on the crowd really got behind their respective MCs when asked to show their worth. People in the left were rapping one verse while just the ladies were singing the chorus followed by crowds on the right finishing the track off. In a display of affection and appreciation, De La Soul made each of their fans a part of the act. It worked.

One lucky, but less than witty fan, was brought on stage to answer a simple question: What is De La Soul’s favorite day? After some light razzing from Trugoy and Posdnuos, Maseo saved the fan any more embarrassment by pumping “Saturdays” through the speakers. The crowd went into a tizzy as many parlayed the classic track into an excuse to display their break dancing prowess. Maseo faded portions of classic tracks like “Potholes in My Lawn” and “Stakes Is High” together as the set was ending. However, the show concluded with an epic display of showmanship.&

After showering their fans with thanks and heartfelt appreciation for over twenty years of loyalty, De La Soul broke into a mesmerizing version of “It’s So Easy”. As Trugoy and Posdnuos spit their lyrics, Maseo performed his version of the classic break dancing move, the robot. As the verses came to an end, all three group members froze and Maseo stopped the tracks. The lights dimmed and De La Soul stood motionless, almost frozen in time, as a display to fans that real hip hop is, and always will be, here. Concluding with “Buddy”, the pioneers from Long Island graciously exited wearing genuine smiles and grasping hands of loyal fans as they made their way off stage.

As protectors of the torch, De La Soul lets their history speak for itself when challenged by present day hip hop acts. They know that the art is not about rims or jewels, jeans or long white t-shirts. They know that the art is not about candy-painted cars, scantily clad women or guns and money. Instead, they manifest the hip hop through knowledge, lyrics, witty wordplay, timely samples, beats, originality and a unique sense of what it is to have Soul.

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