Doug E. Fresh Joins Rahzel Onstage

Beat-box innovator makes surprise appearance to perform with self-proclaimed 'undisputed beat-box champion of the world.'

NEW YORK — "I wish Doug E. Fresh was on this track," read the liner notes for "Night Riders," a song featuring Slick Rick, on Rahzel's Make the Music 2000. "It would have been sweet."

That wish came close to being granted Monday night at Central Park's Rumsey Playfield.

Doug E. Fresh joined Rahzel, the self-proclaimed "Godfather of Noyze," to perform "La Di Da Di" during the free concert, which also featured performances by Ranking Joe & Mikey Jarrett, MB2000 and Kenny Muhammed.

"La Di Da Di" was made famous by Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick in the mid-'80s in their incarnation as the Get Fresh Crew. Rahzel's "Night Riders" features "resung elements" from the classic track.

Fans greeted Doug E. Fresh with a chorus of cheers, trading off vocals with the legendary beat-box performer as he alternated between rapping and holding the mic out to the crowd, who knew every word to the song.

Rahzel, who is labeled on his track "All I Know" (RealAudio excerpt) as the "undisputed beat-box champion of the world," has almost single-handedly revived the art of vocal percussion in hip-hop.

The appearance by Doug E. Fresh, one of the original innovators of the technique, spotlighted the mutual show of respect between the two performers.

During his set, Rahzel, who also is a member of the Roots, treated the crowd to a number of selections from Make the Music 2000, which also features collaborations with Erykah Badu, Q-Tip, Branford Marsalis and the Roots.

"If Your Mother Only Knew" (RealAudio excerpt), a staple of Rahzel's live show, spotlighted the vocalist's talents at their most impressive, as he made good on his promise to deliver "the beat and the chorus at the same time."

The outdoor concert was a part of the Central Park SummerStage 2000 concert series, which offers free performances and workshops to the public. (Sonicnet.com is a sponsor of SummerStage 2000.)

Offered in association with Monday's performance was a workshop on beat-box technique, led by Muhammed at New York's Roger Smith Hotel on Tuesday.

For a list of other upcoming shows and events in the series, visit www.summerstage.org.