PHILADELPHIA While DMX, P. Diddy and Busta Rhymes headlined radio station Power 99 (WUSL-FM)'s annual star-saturated concert, PowerHouse, on Friday, neither dog nor dancing machine nor dread could overshadow the drama surrounding the apparently ceaseless feud between Jadakiss and local hero Beanie Sigel.
Jada who had been involved in a war of words with Beanie earlier this summer, then later disclosed the friction was over (see "Jay-Z, Jadakiss Say Beef Good, Violence Bad") took to the First Union Center stage after sets by Mr. Cheeks, Fabolous and Noreaga. Jadakiss' set started off without a hitch as he rocked the crowd with cuts such as "Show Discipline" and "Dirty Riders," which featured an appearance by Fiend.
"I'm curious," he said after the song was over. "Do y'all still got love for me?" After being answered with mostly cheers, he performed "Knock Yourself Out." "Check this out, ma," he rapped, with the crowd finishing his rhyme: "I'm running out of my patience!"
It was all good for the Yonkers, New York, MC until he decided to reference Philly's hip-hop ambassador. "Send Sigel a message that I'm ridin' again," he said in a freestyle that ignited jeers. Almost immediately after the line, the spectators started booing, with many throwing water bottles, paper and glow sticks.
Though Kiss' words were inaudible, he stood his ground like a villainous wrestler trying to get a rise out the crowd, continuing with the rap and going on to perform "We Gonna Make It" before exiting the stage.
A surprise appearance from Beanie Sigel, who was not on the bill, would come after Busta Rhymes' set. The dreadlocked rhyme-thrower, accompanied by his hypeman Spliff Starr, set things off with his verse from M.O.P.'s "Ante Up (Remix)." Busta then previewed some of Genesis, scheduled for a November 27 release, with the frenzied "As I Come Back" and the jazzy "Everybody Rise."
Now it was time for the hits. With his voice often fluctuating from a roar to whisper, Busta launched into a flurry of his most famous tunes, including "Tear Da Roof Off," "Everything Remains Raw" and the Leaders of the New School's "Case of the P.T.A."
"Let's keep it at the same pace," Busta commanded after a rapid-fire rendition of "Gimme Some More," going into his current single, "Break Your Neck." Legs bent, he stood bouncing, arms flailing, banging his head like a punk rocker as he encouraged the crowd: "Break your neck!" The banging didn't stop there, as he and Spliff sat down at the tip of the stage, playing imaginary bongos as the beat for "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See" kicked in.
During his set, Bussa Buss seemed most amped to perform his newest material. He closed with two straight performances of "What It Is," switching up the chorus a little to "Philly/ What it is right now."
The next act, P. Diddy, came out with an expected bit of pageantry: he was silhouetted against a white curtain by a huge light. "Philly, make some noise!" he exclaimed before commencing his stage time with his verse from Usher's "I Don't Know."
Dressed in a purple leather jacket, a Stephon Marbury Phoenix Suns home jersey, and purple leather pants, he took a break from performing to bring out Beanie Sigel, who bounced to the beat of Jay-Z's "Takeover" with the crowd chanting "Beanie, Beanie, Beanie." He then sought retribution on Jadakiss.
"Give a n---a 80 bars and he's still talking?" Beans rhymed over the beat before telling the DJ he wanted to spit without music. He must have danced a little too much earlier, though he was out of breath, but he persisted through his verse. "He's a bitch without the pocketbook and wig," he ferociously declared, ending with "I'm a made man, you couldn't bake a Bean in Boston."
Beanie wasn't Diddy's only guest. He brought out Loon, Mark Curry, G. Dep and Black Rob all dressed in Marbury home jerseys who assisted on songs such as "Been Around the World," "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down" and "Let's Get It."
Faith, who performed her own set of cuts earlier, made the most heartfelt cameo in Diddy's set during "I'll Be Missing You." Before the song, Diddy let the crowd know how much love he and the Notorious B.I.G. had for Philly and said he was concerned about the hip-hop community and the rest of the country in these turbulent times. He dedicated the performance of "I'll Be Missing You" to everybody lost in the events of September 11 and to the Notorious B.I.G.
DMX, whose The Great Depression dropped on Tuesday, wasted no time he started into "We Right Here" the instant he ran onstage. With his eyes closed, standing at an angle, X barked through a medley of "What's My Name," "Get at Me Dog" and his verses from "Pull It," his duet with Cam'ron, and LL Cool J's "4, 3, 2, 1."
Grimy as he is, Dark Man is still a heartthrob. Submitting to ladies' orders to take his shirt off, X stripped down to his bare chest and made them swoon. The First Union Center stayed revved up as he went from the bedroom ("It's All Good") to the streets ("Ruff Ryders Anthem" and "Who We Be") to the club ("Party Up").
As with all his shows, X ended on a sobering note with a reflective prayer. "Father God, I am just learning how to pray, so bear with me," he said. "... Guess what I'm asking is, show me how to stand for you/ And I will rap for you, sing for you, preach for you, teach for you, reach for you/ I will love you like you love me, unconditionally."