Earlier that day we enjoyed Kixpo, one of the largest sneaker conventions in the country and straight from that was the perfect like-minded event that perfectly framed the vibe of the day and a very specific time from my youth that I cherish greatly.
I Love the 90's - June 11th - Verizon Theatre - Grand Prairie, TX
w/ Salt N Pepa, Kid N Play, Rob Base & more
Ok so I was so genuinely excited for this tour to hit town, I haven't been this seriously excited about show for a minute - I couldn't wait to see alot of my faves from one of my most beloved eras of music of any genre - the early 1990's that spawned so much great Hip-Hop and R&B music.
That crazy fun shit that will always be fun, never fail to make you smile. Absent of violence and misogyny & tons of unnecessary cursing - just timeless, inspired songs that make you dance, laugh, think & feel good. A good bunch from that time were all here together in one show & I couldn't be happier. Now let me hit you with some self-awareness real quick - I'm quite (& at times painfully so) aware that era of Hip-Hop is considered by many to be...well frankly...too...white and it would easily dismiss my enthusiasm as being completely rooted in being a middle-aged white guy.
I knew that there would be alot of other dorky white people that will probably make me embarassed to be white. I know that this was totally "let's get a babysitter" show and there would be questionable dancing from parents. Last but not least, it would be hard to not argue the current relevancy of the lineup & that most can no longer tour successfully on their own, but bring a bunch together and it's a party and THAT's the point.
I brought my nephew down, we had just had a great day doing the B-Boy thing at Kixpo and we were ready.
So for fun (& NO ONE should take this too seriously) I thought it would be fun to assign a rating system this year.
Now we are only really gonna be featuring bands that we haven't covered before & the scores are your basic 1-10 system (everyone gets a 10 just for getting up there) and the scores are only compared to the other bands of the evening. Meaning, this isn't an overall score throughout the universe or comparative to other acts of this genre of otherwise. In other words, let's have some fun.
Young MC (left) = 2
& Coolio = 1
Ok, let's be clear - I LOVE Young MC - I don't care how many times I've heard Bust a Move that's EXACTLY what I do (remember I'm a middle-aged white dude) EVERY TIME I hear it - It's a perfect song that frames a perfect time, perfectly. I was glad he was here starting things off & it was great to finally see him do his thing in person. However, as far as actual performance, he looked like he had just walked over from his lunch hour, handed someone a DAT tape, rapped for 10 mins and bailed.
However that's not to say it didn't have the value of just simply seeing Young MC in person after all these years.
Coolio however was actually downright painful. Though I was never quite into his brand of smokes I was still looking forward to his performance, especially after seeing a full live band setting up behind him. Dude sounded like he was gargling glass and should probably retire from performing, it was that bad. Wishing that Dallas had got Tone-Loc or Kool Moe Dee instead.
Color Me Badd = 5
The party didn't really start until Color Me Badd, whose current incarnation consists of only three members came out.
The trio was pitch-perfect as they moved around the large stage.
They did their thing and of course leading up to THE slow-jam from my Junior year - I Wanna Sex You Up.
Let me just say right now, in spite of what I said earlier, this crowd gets a 10.
They were freaking LIT all-night at every turn, eager to prove you can still get funky past your 20s. They showed up in their finest Saturday-night suburban-mom attire (80 percent of the crowd seemed to be women), rowdy women who were dancing hard after multiple trips to the bar.
Much of the entertainment was just watching the crowd respond to the various MCs' calls to "put your hands in the air, wave 'em like you just don't care" and other hype tactics to get the crowd moving. The crowd obeyed the commands, not needing a better excuse to get crazy.
All-4-One = 4
Ok so another boy-like band All 4 One, that was perfect for the predominantly female crowd (including the drunk former/current stripper sitting next to us that spilled literally every drink given to her on my nephew) complete with classic '90s dance moves
They brought the house down during their hit I Swear but their voices haven’t weathered the test of time, and that song is unforgiving of mishaps; a lot of the solos were pitchy and off-key at times. That were smart however & relied on doing lots of covers from that era to keep the party moving.
Kid N Play = 10
Let me be clear: Kid N Play freaking KILLED & were the best act of the night by a country mile (& seriously one of the smoothest flowing performances) & just solid fun of any show I've ever seen period. I couldn't overstate the slaying that occurred when they hit stage and never let up.
Though they were the act I was most anticipating seeing this is not bias - Remember when I said earlier that the scores were only comparative to the other acts of this particular night? That goes for everyone except Kid N Play, they are still better than just about anybody & with all due respect in a just world with a group that can still bring it this hard, they'd be on a different type of tour altogether.
They continuously entertained the crowd with skit-like banter highlighted by the Rap Battle and Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody.
Ironically the only time I've ever seen Kid N Play was in Brooklyn in 2012 when Salt N Pepa brought them out for a few songs as special guests.
Their shit was so good (& this will sound like a joke) we ran home after the show and watched House Party.
Rob Base = 9
I can honestly say that if Kid N Play hadn't left scorched earth that Rob Base & his crew would have won the night.
Even after that impossible act to follow, Base & company kept it hyped at near almost the same level.
The crowd continued to get louder and louder as the night went on. It was hard to believe that they could push it further, but it happened when they pumped out the song every soccer mom knew and the place went nuts hearing It Takes Two.
Everyone was up dancing and singing to one of the greatest party songs of all time
Salt-N-Pepa = 6
Headlining was one of the greatest groups in Hip-Hop history, Salt N Pepa celebrating the 30-year anniversary of making music together.
However, it took 30 minutes to get from their opening song Do You Want Me to the next hit Let’s Talk About Sex and DJ Spinderella helped fill out the remainder of their nearly one-hour set by jamming everything from Cyndi Lauper to 50 Cent to Beyoncé.
The ladies relied on gimmicky audience participation, bringing 50 or so women from their seats on stage to jam in a very uncoordinated mob dance while they waxed poetic about needing a “real man.” Spinderella played mashups of TLC’s “No Scrubs” and Erykah Badu’s “Call Tyrone,” two of the more pointed kick-your-freeloading-boyfriend-to-the-curb songs from the '90s.
Bringing that many people on stage poses some logistical challenges for getting them to leave, evidenced by Salt-N-Pepa’s repeated requests asking the women to get off the stage as the super fans couldn’t get enough and took the opportunity to swarm the DJ booth.
Even with the bumpy transition out of this bit, 10 minutes later, they brought about 30 men onto the stage for a male-centric mashup of hit songs to perform one of their seminal tracks “Whatta Man.” The women rapped while men grinded on them and got a little too handsy. There was a frightening lack of security on stage during this bit, but the seasoned performers kept going, seemingly only slightly perturbed by the alcohol-induced lack of personal space.
Despite the frustrating shortage of actual hits, when Salt N Pepa’s brought it, they brought it. Their iconic voices, attitude, and stage presence, although matured from their early days, didn’t miss a beat. When they were blessing the crowd with one of their hits, they sounded as good live as they did on an album that hasn’t been played since it came out 20 years ago. The duo did a fair share of booty shaking and choreographed steps with two male hip-hop dancers, proving they’ve still got the moves. The crowd’s enthusiasm was well-deserved in those moments.
But the overall feeling of I Love the '90s was not one of accuracy or technical specifics. This was a night of nostalgia for nostalgia's sake, and these past-their-prime artists were there simply to make the audience get up and groove.