Posts Tagged ‘hip hop’

Andre Nickatina’s Identity Crisis

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Bay Area rapper Andre Nickatina performed on Friday night in a Yankees hat.

I come from the East Coast. Bay Area rap does not reach us much, and when it does, it comes in the form of E-40, Top 40, or entertaining hyphy YouTube videos. Thus, I came to Friday night’s Hilltop festival expecting to hear the Bay Area represent through the voice of Andre Nickatina, supposedly one of its favorite rappers. Instead, I heard a lot about weed, booty calls, and getting drunk, little of it particular to San Francisco, and I left feeling a bit confused by Dre Dog’s heavy reliance on Mac Dre‘s repertoire and his decision to wear a Yankees hat for the occasion.

Let’s examine the latter for a second. The SF Giants won their first World Series ever last year, and Nickatina decides to wear a Yankees hat?? Who does he think he is, Jay-Z? Sure, a hat is principally a fashion accessory, and I am probably reading into it way more than I should. But for me, this one little act summed up the overall lack of authenticity and substance of the entire experience.

Furthermore, though Mac Dre and Nickatina once collaborated closely together, Nickatina has a career that spans almost 20 years. He had the entire audience chanting “Mac Dre, Mac Dre!” with cheesy hand waves, and at times it seemed he was trying to embody his counterpart instead of channeling his own vision. His reverence for Mac Dre may be well deserved, but it came off as more theatrical than genuine.

Granted, Nickatina managed to put on a pretty dynamic performance. People who like him left satisfied, though I have yet to find a girl who truly enjoyed his performance. I appreciated the way he provided a break from the typical Stanford concert scene, which is virtually nonexistent thanks to Stanford’s sclerotic bureaucracy and lack of funding for concerts. However, for all the hype, he did not deliver much about which to write home. At least NYC rappers mean it when they wear Yankees hats.

K’naan Plants His Flag at The Fillmore

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

K'naan traces his roots back to the war-torn streets of Mogadishu, Somalia.

After eighteen months of touring that included kicking off the World Cup, K’naan chose San Francisco to be his final major stop. He performed to a packed crowd at The Fillmore last Thursday night. Of all the concerts I’ve seen in the Bay Area, this was one of the best: the venue, the artists, and the vibes dazzled the senses and resonated long after the last beat was finished.

Paper Tongues, a raucous rock band from North Carolina, warmed up the stage with an eclectic blend of hip-hop, funk, rock, and soul. K’naan, most famous for his anthem “Wavin’ Flag,” launched into his act with a breathtaking portrayal of the conflict in his native Somalia, of the street games and wretched violence, of his journey to the Americas and his search for identity in the midst of unexpected stardom. His rhymes ranged from disarmingly smooth to staccato and shrill, capturing the cultivation of his sense of self in the midst of the ravages of war. While the concert ostensibly promoted his latest album, Troubadour, he also pulled out some classics from his first album, such as “If Rap Gets Jealous.”

Paper Tongues from North Carolina opened for K'naan.

A little on the venue. It’s primarily standing room only, with an old-school bar to one side and plush balcony seats above the main floor. The Fillmore has a storied history in San Francisco and has been host to many of the greatest rock acts, including my personal favorite, The Grateful Dead. The space has good acoustics, perhaps too good—I’d strongly recommend a pair of earplugs if you want to be able to hear anything the next day.

I was able to record the song “Wavin’ Flag,” available here. I cut it down to a shorter version because the one K’naan played lasted for an epic 12 minutes. The sound quality is not the best, but you can still get a sense of how sick the un-mixed, original song is live.

Yet Another Hip-Hop Artist to Lecture at Stanford? By Now, It’s Common

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Common will "be" at Stanford. Can I make more puns in this post? Don't try me.

Chamillionaire/QD3. Immortal Technique. Matisyahu. Palo Alto has never before been a hotbed of hip-hop–which is probably why they come to lecture, not perform. Or lecture-slash-perform, better known as lectforming, or just lecturing well.

Perhaps Palo Alto’s street cred as a music-lecture scene is going up, because another lecture is scheduled–this time from the rapper Common on Wednesday, May 26. Common is a widely-respected rapper who has more recently ventured into the film world–he can currently be seen in the New Jersey Nets-centered basketball romantic comedy feature Just Wright with Queen Latifah.

More importantly, though, Common does have a history of activism: he is a animal rights-supporting vegetarian (and, according to PETA, a not-to-shabby-looking one). He’s also pledged to stop using anti-gay slurs in his lyrics and censored the N-word after prompting from Oprah.

This event, sponsored by ASSU speakers, promises to be “an evening of music and meaning.” Sound familiar? Last month, Matisyahu was here to talk about the strangely similar topics of “music and meaning.

The details: Wednesday, May 26th, 2010. 8pm. MemAud. FREE with SUID. Doors open at 7:30pm. Get your FREE tickets Monday – Wednesday (5/24 – 5/26) in White Plaza from 12-1PM. 1 ticket per SUID and 2 SUIDs per person.