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After getting tickets a few weeks earlier, it was finally time to see Rakim on a sold-out night at the Shrine. I had been to a smaller show at the Shrine a few months ago, but had never been there for a large show. Before I talk about Rakim, let me just say that the crowd was great and had a much different vibe relative to the silliness I witnessed at SubT last month. I'm glad it was a mature crowd, because the Shrine took forever to get Rakim on stage after opening the doors at 9pm. The broke up the Connect Force cipher, which was smokin' and keeping us entertained, then made us stand around and listen to music for hours. YP, a Chicago rapper, came on for a few songs, but by the time he took the stage people only wanted Rakim. After a wait, Connect Force took the stage and did some nice work, but again, the crowd wanted Rakim. Despite playing some nice stuff, DJ Tony Touch stayed on for too long just playing music... You guessed it, we wanted Rakim. Tony's set was probably 30 mins, and he wasn't that sharp in several transitions, which made it worse. After that, the Bassment's foudner came out, and people just kept chanting for Rakim. He finally took the stage around 12:30 - which was absurd.
He took the stage to the roar of everyone in the crowd and did all of his classics. Not only did he look and sound the same as he did back in the day, he was in full control of the stage. Some of the young cats I see on stage are more interested in pretending they're in a rap video than being MCs. If your crew is having more fun jumping around behind you during your set than the crowd that paid for a show, you need to check yourself.
Rakim came out, with DJ 33 1/3 spinning, and ripped the stage by himself. His posse? His wife, who sat by and listened with the rest of us. Here are some of my favorite photos from the night. Rakim was outstanding and a true class act.
Lastly, I've left these unlocked. Feel free to share. Just keep the watermark on them please. Thanks!