Phife Dawg, The Gritz, A.Dd+, Big Hud
September 30, 2011
Better than: just about any other rapper in the world's debut with a live band.
The Palladium Ballroom opened its doors to a legend on Friday night as A Tribe Called Quest's Phife Dawg headlined a wholly stimulating event dubbed Art, Beats + Lyrics.
Visual art was the main focus for the majority of the five-hour-plus affair, with the back half of the massive room having been converted to a pop-up art gallery. It was impressive stuff: Several of the area's top visual artists displayed some of the most stunning pieces we've seen in a while. The talent even included painters putting brush to canvas live right there at the show -- even a body painter who created a live homage to the painted female gracing the cover of Tribe's The Low End Theory. Also of note: The DigiGraff station, a screen upon which attendees could use a digital spray can to create multi-color graffiti pieces on the fly, and without any legal or respiratory repercussions.
But, by the time A.Dd+ took the stage at 10:30, the crowd was ready to see some live performances. Paris Pershun and Slim confidently ripped through their set, keeping the crowd enthused. Paris P's "Erica & Jaime" offering was a highlight, as were "Jumper Cables" (featuring a cameo from Tunk) and the undeniable banger "Likeamug."
Soon after, RC Williams and The Gritz brought a funky free-form hip-hop groove into the place. They got the crowd spirited to hear some Tribe hits, as anticipation was running high for the hip-hop legend's appearance.
Phife's appearance came while The Gritz were still in full jam mode, making it clear that the band would indeed provide the Tribe star's backing for the set -- a definite score for local music, this being Phife's first-ever performance with a live backing, as he later admitted during his set.
He blew into the start of his set with high energy, launching with a cry imploring the crowd to party "like the Mavs just got their rings." He made his way through a number of his favored verses from the Tribe catalog, including a beat-box intro into "Bonita Applebum," "Electric Relaxation" and "Award Tour." The Gritz more than ably handled their job -- to the point that they seemed to have been with Phife from the jump. Phife himself was nimble on the mic and showed all the evidence that proves why he is such a legendary emcee.
As it were, the night ended abruptly. The sensory overload and intense sing-along to some of modern hip-hop's most classic building-blocks completed in a flash, as Phife only went though eight tracks before bowing out for the evening.
But, oh, were those eight songs excellent.
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Personal Bias: Just like probably about every person in the room, I harbor an intense love for the music of Tribe, which made the shortness of Phife's set forgivable.
Random Note: Big Hud came out before Phife, hyping the crowd with The Gritz as they played their new song on which Hud is featured, "Summer Boo."
By the Way: All you baseball cap fashionitstas now have something else to lust after. Phife took the stage rocking one of the smoothest Dallas Mavericks ballcaps that I've ever seen, an orange fitted cap with the throwback Mavs logo. It was the apple of more than a few crowd members' eye.