NEW YORK — It was a thug’s dream come true — a mixtape lover’s paradise — when the LOX performed their first official show in five years on Thursday night at the BB King Blues Club. They tore it down.
Please, do not for one second misinterpret “tore it down” for just giving a great performance. Watching a great performance you feel like, “This person on the stage is giving me my money’s worth.” You talk about it on your way home. Watching somebody tear it down, you stand in front of the venue for a half-hour afterward because you are so hyped, you just can’t go home. Watching somebody tear it down, you wish your best friend who missed the show was there with you to share the euphoria, but you revel in teasing him the very next day. “Son! How did you miss the show? You should have been there!”
There’s no place in the world that the LOX are bigger than in their hometown of New York. They’ve meant so much to the city for the past 12 years, especially the streets. Their allegiance to the hardcore underground scene has never withered, and when it comes to respect, you have to mention their names with the most successful and storied MCs from the Big Apple, like Jay-Z, Nas and 50 Cent.
The LOX, as a trio or as solo acts, have never had a #1 song or multiplatinum album. But those may be the only things missing from their résumés. The trio have clearly been some of the most lyrically talented and believable MCs on the block since they came in the door. Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch are some of the few artists who can boast making classic records with Biggie during the mid-’90s dominance of their former label, Bad Boy, and are still considered some of the best today. Ask Jay-Z, who just brought Jadakiss over to Roc-A-Fella.
Thursday night’s show was billed as a reunion, but luckily the group never broke up. Its last album, We Are the Streets, came out way back in 2000, but all the guys have been permanent fixtures in each other’s lives and careers — all three often pop up on each other’s solo albums. If you count remixes and mixtapes, the LOX probably have 10 albums as a group. On Thursday night, it seemed like they tried to perform everything — a late Christmas gift to their faithful fans who sold out BB King’s.
As Jada pointed out onstage, the show was like a mixtape box set of their greatest hits coming to life in front of you. They went all the way back to one of their first mixtape appearances, “You’ll See,” and then returned to the present for Style’s heavily rotated “Blow My Mind.”
It was time to scream “LOX” right from the onset, with the timeless “N—az Done Started Something,” which transitioned into the simply titled, but musically potent “F— You.”
A lot of the records the LOX performed Thursday night were not singles and never made it to radio rotation, but as a tip of the cap to them from the fans, the audience knew every word. These were die-hards.
It was almost instinctive. You may not have heard a song in 10 years, but when Jada, Sheek and Styles broke it out of the vault Thursday night, something in your brain clicked, making you remember the words like you was playing it in your cassette deck yesterday.
Later in the show, as security threatened to shut down the show if people didn’t put out their cigars, Styles pleaded with the audience to comply.
“We got lyrical weed,” added the charismatic Kiss. “Dope Money” followed. Later came Jada’s “Show Discipline” and “All for the Love.”
“Whyyyyy-o! Whyyyyy-o!” chants started to ring out from the crowd, giving props to the LOX’s original stomping ground of Yonkers, New York, a.k.a. Y.O.
“I got a head rush,” Jadakiss smiled after the frenzied “Money, Power, Respect.”
After “Reservoir Dogs,” Styles warned, “All the pu— n—as get way in the back. We ain’t come to make you dance, sing or [show you're] loyal.”Then came another anthem, “Wild Out.”
The mic kept getting brutalized with “Kiss Your Ass Goodbye,” the absurdly slept-on “It Can Get Ugly” and “All About the Benjamins.”
The ladies got some love with “Ride or Die Chick,” and even the gangstas had to dance on “Locked Up” and “Can You Believe It.” It got so good to Styles on the latter, he started doing the Thunderclap.
SP, who just released his critic-approved Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman) got the most light toward the end of the show, performing his new material, such as “Blow My Mind,” “Alone in the Streets” and the LOX posse cut “Gangster, Gangster.”
“I jumped in with $35,000 [worth of jewelry] on,” Jadakiss laughed, leaping into the crowd to perform his verse. Sheek and Styles followed, saying their rhymes with feet planted on the ground next to fans.
After the show, the energy was so high, you could hear men reciting the hook for “We Gonna Make It” in the bathroom. Walking up the stairs and out of the venue, grown fans still had childlike excitement.
“Can you believe they did ‘Banned From TV’?” one woman said to her date. “I love that!”