It is too bad that Run-DMC arrived as late as they did Thursday night. They put on a great show; unfortunately, many Williams students had become disheartened and some had already left Goodrich by the time the act began. The night began with a half-hour of breakdancing by new campus group Sol Ka Fe, followed by another half-hour of freestyling. Both acts were very impressive and heightened the already strong anticipation and electricity felt in the crowd. If this energetic hour had lead directly into Jam Master Jay’s exuberant introductions of DMC and Run, and then into their opening song, “King of Rock,” the evening would have been no less than awesome.
For those dedicated souls who remained or reappeared at Goodrich, Run-DMC provided a lot of fun. Seeing the energy and acrobatics of “Peter Piper” performed live is an experience that a listener cannot have with a recorded version. Likewise a person becomes much more attached to the music when he or she as part of the audience plays the part of Steven Tyler yelling, “Walk this way!” during every chorus.
Run-DMC even made a few successful attempts to place one foot in the modern hip-hop world, while keeping the other in the old school, an extremely difficult feat. During their performance of their first hit, “It’s Like That,” Jam Master Jay intertwined the original beat with the faster, techno-insprired beat from the 1997 Jason Nevins remix. The original beat was used during vocal sections, and the danceability of the newer beat was utilized during the breaks between verses, creating what was probably the high point of the crowd energy during the show.
Later on, Run told a fictitious story about a younger MC challenging him to a battle. Run’s supposed response was a set of witty rhymes that showed he could in fact write with the creativity and dexterity to keep up with rappers today, if he were to choose to. The high points of this short section were the opening and closing lines: “I’m the reason you started rhyming,” and “I put on a pair of shell[-toed Adidas]’s and you go out and buy them again,” respectively.
Its possible that many Williams students walked away that night with a sour taste in their mouth about hip hop, not because of anything that happened on stage, but because of a phenomenon that exists in all music genres: extreme lateness on the part of the artists. This campus’ encounters with hip-hop shows in the past two years have run a full range, from disastrous (Rakim/EMS) to fantastic (Rahzel). It is my hope that the fun experiences we’ve had with hip hop, including Rahzel, Sol Ka Fe, DJs Josh Burns ’02 and Jeremy Rothe-Kussel ’01, and MCs Andre McKenzie ’01 and Will Gilyard ’02, will outweigh the negative ones, like listening to EMS while waiting for Rakim. The waiting and wondering that went on before Run-DMC took the stage was a rock-star problem, not a hip hop problem. The hip-hop moment that I will remember most from the Run-DMC show will be answering Run’s “Mary, Mary…” by shouting back at him, “Why ya buggin’?”