Roots Bring Hoodies And Timbs To Avery Fisher, Rock The Hall With Jay-Z

Talib Kweli, Kool G Rap, Rock Steady Crew also show up for concert.

NEW YORK — At Lincoln Center’s storied Avery Fisher Hall Thursday

night, you could tell it was no ordinary night. Amidst the Coogie sweaters

and matching fitted caps, throwback sports jerseys, assorted hoodies and

Timberland boots worn by the concertgoers, you couldn’t spot any of the

aristocrats in furs, suits and evening gowns that usually frequent the home

of the New York Philharmonic.

And while ticketholders for the sold-out show were ready to hear crisp

sounds, the night was all about hip-hop. The Roots — Black Thought,

Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, Scratch, Kamal, Malik B., Rahzel and Hub —

called on such friends as Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Kool G Rap and legendary

breakdancers the Rock Steady Crew to help introduce the venue to rap.

Although DJing squad the X-ecutioners performed at Avery Fisher in 2000, no

MCs had ever graced the theater (Click for photos from the concert).

The house lights went low, signaling the crowd to rise from their seats for

Philadelphia’s hometown heroes’ entrance.

"We settin' it from Southside/ Pushin' this up North/ From Illadelphian reps,

to fly points across the map," the group’s frontman and lead MC, Black

Thought, said as they opened with "Respond/ React."

With the house still pitch black, he and the Roots' other MC, Malik B.,

continued rhyming until the next couple of verses, then as the full crew was

revealed onstage, the band switched up the beats, using Mobb Deep’s "The

Learning (Burn)" as the musical backdrop.

"We surround your camp/ Assuming the war stance," Thought spit. "And bring it

from the chest, now let's dance."

He and Malik then conjured visions of '80s rap world flick "Beat Street" as

they battled each other, not with mics, but by dancing, highlighted by

backspins, reminiscent of World Wrestling Federation Superstar Booker T.’s

Spinnerooni signature move. From there, guests Crazy Legs and two other Rock

Steady Crew dancers took over with their trademark poppin', lockin' and

breaking.

At that point, the floor seating area looked like one massive sea of bodies.

Everybody was standing, and from the balcony you couldn’t see chairs or a

piece of the floor, just people dancing.

"We got the hot, hot music, the hot music," Black Thought began to chant on

the follow-up number, "The Next Movement." But after a verse, the band

switched up the beat again, this time recreating the keys that producer

Marley scored big with on the seminal posse cut "The Symphony."

"Next up," said Thought. " ... Kool G Rap light up the mic for the symphony."

The legendary verbal pugilist then came on to rehash his lyrical lacerations.

"Yo, Marley gives the slice, I get nice/ And my voice is twice as horrifying

as Vincent Price," G Rap said, clad in all black from his Timbs to his

pullover sweatshirt.

The back-in-the-day vibe must have gotten to Black Thought — when G Rap

finished his verse, Thought went into Big Daddy Kane’s part of the song.

"Settin' it off, lettin' it off, beginnin'," he said. "Rough to the endin',

you never been in ..."

G Rap wasn’t the last person the Roots would give time to shine to on the mic

Talib Kweli, singer Jaguar Wright and Jay-Z would also come out.

Jay and the group took the opportunity to perform some of Jigga’s

street-flavored album cuts they didn’t have time for on the recent MTV

"Unplugged." Jigga started off with "A Million and One Questions" (one of

?uestlove’s favorites) and then went into "So Ghetto."

His set’s closer was "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)." "Ain’t no love, in

the heart of the city," Jaguar returned to the stage to sing. "Ain’t no love,

in the heart of town."

"Ain’t no," Jay chimed in, smiling.

With the crowd clapping in unison, Jag roared back, "Ain’t nooo."

"Ain’t no," Jay jumped back in, before rubbing the visibly pregnant

songbird’s bulging stomach.

The crowd was alerted that even though the show was hitting the 90-minute

mark at that point, it was not time to go home yet. It was jam session time,

and the band performed instrumentals ranging from "Iron Man" to

Salt-N-Pepa’s "Push It," but not before their most commercially popular

hit, "You Got Me."

Although the track’s guest performer, Erykah Badu, wasn’t in attendance,

human-sound-effects machine Rahzel imitated her part.

Rahz and Scratch, who replicated much of the turntable scratching with his

mouth on the "Unplugged" special, then went toe-to-toe for the crown of Mouth

o’ Mighty. Using just their mics, the two dug deep enough in their bag of

tricks to make Michael Winslow from "Police Academy" proud.

Besides recreating the beat and hook from Aaliyah’s "If Your Girl Only Knew,"

the highlight of their time in the spotlight was a performance of the Luke

Skywalker and Darth Vader light saber fight, replete with the weapons’

buzzing noise and Darth Vader’s revelation that he was Luke’s father.

The grand finale of Pharoahe Monch coming out to perform "Simon Sez" was

almost an afterthought. The song’s chorus chant of "Get the f--- up" was two

hours too late; all seats were ice cold by then.