NEW YORK — Friday, Saturday and Sunday? Hip-hop addicts were OD-ing this weekend as rap concerts monopolized the Big Apple. The Roots, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, Common and Q-Tip kept the b-boys saying, "Hoooooo!" and the fly girls doing the wop.
Black Thought showed mind-blowing breath control as he channeled the spirit of Kool G Rap during a cover of the lispy legend's "Men at Work."
"Dope 'cause I'm a death wish, not even Bob Hope's," he rapped. "Rhymes are rugged, soul flooded, cold-blooded/ You ain't better, you're butter, so just shut it/ Here to perform, having a brainstorm, make a rain form/ How rap groups run to keep the name warm/ Putting heads to beddy-bye like Freddy so get ready/ 'Cause I'mma get crazier than Crazy Eddie."
Thought also imitated the entire Wu-Tang Clan for "Protect Ya Neck." MC Lyte paid homage to her brother Milk Dee with a verse from "Top Billin' " (that's Milk's voice looping in 50 Cent's "I Get Money") and brought back classics like "Paper Thin" and "I Cram to Understand U."
After presenting Black with a pimp cup for his birthday (and a cake at Thursday's Hip Hop Honors — see video at left), Big Daddy Kane made the theater go dizzy with a handful of classics from "Set It Off" to "Warm It Up, Kane" to "Smooth Operator." Big Scoob came out for "Raw," during which he and Kane did an electric dance routine that included splits and midair chest-thumping.
On Saturday night, Boost Mobile held its annual Rock Corps concert at Radio City Music Hall. Yung Joc, Hurricane Chris and Swizz Beatz (Swizzy brought out Jadakiss and Eve) were the appetizers, and later NYC favorite Fabolous came out for a handful of joints, including "Make Me Better," "Baby Don't Go" and "Keepin' It Gangsta." For "Gangsta Don't Play," reggae icon Junior Reid came out. Keyshia Cole's set was as brief as a cup of coffee, but she did have one of the biggest pops of the night with her hit "Let It Go."
Co-headliner Busta Rhymes tried to make the most of his 15 minutes — yes, 15 minutes for Bus is sacrilege — teasing the crowd with snippets of his monster hits, such as "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See" and "Break Ya Neck." Ludacris' time was limited as well, but he did squeeze in "Number One Spot" and more.
Sunday (insert fatigued intake of breath here) was the last night of shows. It all pointed back to the Nokia Theater, where Common and Q-Tip — who have joined forces for a side project called the Standard (album due in 2008) — performed separate sets at a concert presented by 2K Sports.
Tip opened, and fans were hoping to be surprised by a reunion of A Tribe Called Quest — but the Abstract Poetic went it alone.
"New mutha----in' York," he yelled, excited to be in his hometown.
"We're winning, by the way: 8 to 3," he added, pointing to the Yankees logo on his hat. Although nothing can compare to seeing Tip and Phife Dawg do Tribe joints in their entirety, the music is so beautiful, everyone was excited to hear Tip do half a record here and there, such as "Check the Rhime." Tip did Phife's rhymes on "Award Tour" and "Electric Relaxation." And let's not forget, Tip does have two very big solo tracks: "Vivrant Thing" and "Breathe and Stop."
Common was theatric, poignant and potent during his show.
"Go!," "U, Black Maybe," "Testify" and "Drivin' Me Wild" riled fans up. He then started paying tribute to hip-hop, with a bevy of covers such as N.W.A's "Straight Outta Compton" and Nas' "N.Y. State of Mind." Then he gave fans the ultimate moment with an off-the-head freestyle cipher that included KRS-One and Q-Tip.
"We do this here, and you know we don't stress/ I got my n---a Common and KRS," Q-Tip rhymed.
"Right here, this is the Teacha/ I wanna hear a shout from Nokia," spit KRS, who had just minutes earlier surprised everyone with "The Bridge Is Over" and "South Bronx."
Common followed with a warning to sucka rappers: "I put you on a stretcher, you can call me love 'cause love's gonna get ya/ When it comes to this, MCs, you know I gotta snuff ya, and when it comes to this you can't tell me nothin'."
Later, at the end of "Misunderstood," Common listed some people who he thought were misunderstood: Tupac, Malcolm X, Kurt Cobain, Lauryn Hill, Michael Vick and the Jena Six. He finished his set with "The Light."
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.