If you were there, you know: it was legendary. If you weren’t there, you get to live vicariously through my photo lens.
A quick breakdown: The Reminders, a Colorado Springs based hip hop husband wife duo with immense energy and skill, absolutely murdered the opener. The Reminders “are a rare and remarkable musical duo seamlessly blending soulful sounds and roots music with insightful messages and thoughtful lyrics. The group consists of Brussels-born emcee Big Samir and Queens-born emcee/ vocalist Aja Black, a collective creative force that’s hard to beat.” We commented on twitter that the crowd was as hype for this performance as any crowd has been for a main headliner. The Reminders played one of the Yellow Scene anniversary parties a few years back so, yes, we were especially proud.
Royce De 5’9″ is a true school hip hop head from the streets of Detroit. “Royce is one half of the rap duo Bad Meets Evil with Eminem, one quarter of the hip hop group Slaughterhouse with Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz and Crooked I, and one half of the hip hop group PRhyme with DJ Premier. The editors of About.com ranked him No. 30 on their list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time (1987–2007).” He lived up to the hype, delivering some of the most serious, hard hitting, no holds barred hip hop. The only other street artist that was on the playbill, Pusha T, canceled his appearance within an hour of show start time. Royce reminds us that real hip hop – the 90’s forward style epitomized by Dead Prez and others – is alive and well.
Brother Ali, the famous albino, Muslim, blind MC with the infamous Rhymesayers crew, was impeccable. His delivery oscillating between rapid fire and molasses sticky sweet, was the perfect transition between Royce’s hard hitting raps and Blackstar’s conscious, rapping/singing/humming goodness. Extra props go to Brother Ali for bringing Muslim backup dancers replete with massive skills and hijabs. The world needs more positive Muslim representation, especially in an America with a Muslim travel ban and rising xenophobia.
What needs to be said about Yasiin Bey and Talib Kweli helmed Black Star? They are indisputably two of the greatest MC’s in history and definitely among the greatest working today – “best alliance in hip-hop, Y-O”. Pusha T’s absence left Blackstar (and later Nas) with extra time, and that was rewarded with an incredible runthrough of their greatest hits. The crowd – yours truly, included – were more than happy to sing along, rap along, and dance along. This was a moment of blessing and love for hip hop fans, and we’re grateful to have witnessed it.
Closing out the night with a near two hour performance – “Next time Red Rocks needs to give me two and a half hours” – Nas asolutely destroyed the stage with the crowd’s approval. You know it’s good when it’s painfully obvious that Nas ran past his team’s performance readiness and started singing bits of new cuts. Touching on every album he’s ever made, Nas took us from “day ones” to the future with his DJ and a badass drummer/singer whose contributions were incredible. 303 Magazine wrote, “Nas. 2018 is sure to be a highlight for Nas, as his album, Nasir, (executively produced by Kanye West) just came out in mid-June and was greeted with generally positive reviews.” We couldn’t agree more.
Now here, have some pictures. [All images by De La Vaca]