Saturday afternoon in Irvine, California became the temporary institute for hip-hop past and present for all fans to view. Music legend Ice-T hosted the event that featured The Alkaholiks, Ras Kass, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, Mack 10, Grand Master Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, Warren G., Xzibit, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, EPMD, Rakim, DJ Quik, Sugafree, Hi-C, Big Daddy Kane, and The Game.
Despite the inclement weather that hurried fans into the amphitheater when the doors opened around 3:30, Doug E. Fresh reminded everyone while paying respect to Cali Swag District that he taught us how to dougie first.
Slick Rick entered the stage in pure fashion draped with chains and gold, while ‘The Ruler’ did an immaculate job on stage performing all of his hits.
Mack 10 represented the West Coast to the fullest with songs like “Foe Life”, “Backyard Boogie”, and possibly gave us hope of a reunion in the distant future when he spit his lyrics over “Bow Down”, a Westside Connection track.
It’s the 20th anniversary of Mack 10’s debut album, and has been a staple not only in West Coast hip hop, but hip hop overall.
“It’s feels great. Its feels great to still bring them to their feet 20 years later,” Mack 10 said. “I don’t have no complaints, I’m real comfortable with my place in hip hop. I’m still having fun.”
EPMD performed their greatest hits for the crowd, and brought you back to a time where hip-hop still meant a great deal from lyrics, to production, to individuality.
We also had a chance to reminisce and see Warren G perform and take us back through all of his G-Funk hits. He performed his new single that features his late friend Nate Dogg off his upcoming new album “G-Funk Era 2” due out August 6th.
Rakim, whom I’ve never seen perform live before, delivered famous classics such as, “Microphone Fiend,” “Don’t Sweat the Technique,” and “Paid in Full,” giving the crowd his all.
Ice-T performed hits such as “Colors”, and “6 In the Morning”, which is always great to witness and nver gets old. Many in the crowd as the rain disappeared under the night sky were treated to hip-hop bliss, as they witness all five members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony perform many of their hits.
With songs like “Thuggish Ruggish Bone, “First of the Month, “E. 1999”, and “Crossroads” keeping their mentor and friend Eazy-E alive.
With the NWA biopic “Straight Outta Compton” debuting in just a few weeks,Bizzy Bone shared his thoughts on the late rapper’s influence on their group and music.
“We’re looking forward to it,” he explained. “We didn’t know Eazy-E before we met him. We were ballin’…I mean we saw very few guns. It’s going to be a good experience to see what he was really about, especially his homeboys telling his story. I think it’s going to be cool.”
This year marks the 20th Anniversary of “E. 1999 Eternal”, which is considered a classic by many.
“Making that record [E. 1999 Eternal], was all of our lives until that point,” Layzie Bone a member of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony said. “That’s probably why it’s a classic because it gives a idea from our childhood until 1995. That’s that jewel, that life right there.
“I personally can’t wait to see the NWA movie. I grew up off ‘F– Tha Police’, you know Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and [MC] Ren, so every album they dropped I always got it. Plus I’m curious to see if they mention Bone Thugs-N-Harmony in the movie too.”
Concluding the festival was no other than West Coast emcee The Game, and thrusted out on stage by opening up with “Westside Story” from his classic album “The Documentary”.
He continued performing tracks off ‘The Documentary’ that included “This Is How We Do” and “Hate It or Love It” to name a few. Game also took a moment to pay tribute to the rappers who were no longer with us, that included Biggie, Eazy-E, Nate Dogg, and 2Pac aka Makaveli.
After 11 PM in Irvine, the concert’s curfew had arrived and Game showed no signs of fatigue as he wanted to rock with the crowd more. However before Game could spit another verse, the mics were cut and the lights were dimmed.
This was one concert that should not have been missed, and I expect the 2016 Art of Rap festival to be even bigger than it was this year, with more diverse acts from past and present.