The surviving people near-mythical reality-rap group N.W.A reunited on Saturday at Los Angeles’ Staples Center facing a nearly sold-out hometown crowd. . .Or at least many of them did. Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella were present, but Dr. Dre, rap’s reclusive first billionaire, hasn’t been. Regardless, mobile phones illuminated the darkness as people rushed to document a historic moment. (See video through the event here.)
“Us three have not been onstage together in 26 years,” said Cube.
“Not since 1989, really,” added Ren.
The N.W.A reunion capped a good day at L.A. Live’s BET Experience, a sprawling, multi-event, weekend-long festival all around the June 28th BET Awards. Earlier within the afternoon, folks waited for the hour outside of the Los Angeles Convention Center next door to experience a barrage of food trucks, three concert stages, a sneaker convention, the Coca-Cola “Flava Zone,” a Galaxy S-Edge recording booth, a Sprite-sponsored celebrity dunk contest hosted by former Rap City personality Big Tigger, a CoverGirl fashion show, and you never know what else. Amidst the organization theme park, there was clearly highlights: R&B newcomers like Timothy Bloom, Jordan Bratton and Kevin Hall delivered unappreciated sets. Janelle Monaé showcased her Wondaland Records roster (and forthcoming EP, The Eephus) with brief performances by Roman GianArthur, St. Beauty, Deep Cotton and, on top of that, Jidenna, whose “Classic Man” hit generated excited squeals from his audience.
By nightfall, the Staples Center filled up for the distinctly West Coast-flavored showcase. First up was Top Dawg Entertainment, inheritors on the G-Funk tradition. Isaiah Rashad began with a two-song rendition that featured “RIP Kevin Miller.” Jay Rock continued to put the table with regional hits like “Hood Gone Love It” and “Code Red.” Disappointingly, Ab-Soul launched into “Terrorist Threats,” even so admitted, “I forgot the text. . .I’m gonna make it real G. I didn’t rehearse, I’m real high, that.” Then he experimented with do “Bohemian Grove,” but thought we would “smoke some other weed” and wandered off of the stage. However, Schoolboy Q rejuvenated the bunch with aggressive renderings of “Gangsta” and “Hands for the Wheel.” “This ain’t no jazz concert,” he growled. “Wake your old ass up.” He was fully engaged when he bounced across the stage, tossing out hits like “Collard Greens,” “Studio” and “Man on the Year.”
No surprise, but Kendrick Lamar drew essentially the most charged reception with the night. He’s never headlined a Staples Center concert, but as L.A.’s hottest son in the moment, he would have clearly filled the dwelling on his own. Everyone rapped along to “Swimming Pools (Drank),” “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Poetic Justice,” and thankfully ignored the five-piece backing band that weighed down his set with ham-fisted funk-rock.
“Through our lifestyle, through our struggle, through our tears and our pain, we allow ourselves to prevail. Because L.A. is a strong motherfuckers,” Lamar said right before launching into a passionate version of “i,” a highlight from his new, brilliant To Pimp a Butterfly. Then, before he delved into your “King Kunta,” he stated, “Out here, we love to ourselves, but we remember where we originated from.” However, Kendrick’s final song “Alright” seemed cut short — the woking platform that held his band was literally rotated beyond view.
Such tone-deaf production values would mar Snoop Dogg’s set. He started perform the vast majority of Doggystyle, but didn’t bother introducing collaborators like Dogg Pound and RBX. Meanwhile, their vocals were undercut by ear-piercing feedback noises more usual for a garage band fumbling with equipment when compared to a big-budget arena concert. But Snoop soldiered on, and in the end drew cheers for “What’s My Name” and “Ain’t No Fun” (where everyone blissfully sang the late Nate Dogg’s verse). The crowd bounced for the Lady of Rage’s “Afro Puffs,” and happily grooved to Warren G’s “This DJ.” Their energy perceived to peak when Too $hort designed a surprise appearance for “Blow the Whistle.” Unfortunately, his microphone eliminate just when he began to rap.
By 11 p.m.’s headliner, Ice Cube, a lot of folks were already making their way on the exits. It was their loss. Anyone who saw Cube live during his Nineties heyday is aware that he was one from the best concert acts with the era, anf the husband proved he hadn’t lost his touch. “Yo, this can be my new rocking the Staples Center,” said Cube, flanked by fellow West Coast vet WC. “A great deal of people don’t similar to this old school shit. . . .But I’m gonna take action anyway.” As he ripped by using a medley that included “Steady Mobbin’,” “How to Survive in South Central,” “Jackin’ for Beats” and “What Can I Do,” he hearkened back for the days when he was by far the most feared rapper in America.
After Ice Cube finally introduced MC Ren and DJ Yella inside the middle of his set, the trio bumrushed through “Hello,” Straight Outta Compton,” and “Gangsta, Gangsta.” MC Ren rapped “Alwayz Into Somethin,” and Yella spun a tribute to your late Eazy-E. “Rest in peace to Eazy-E,” said Cube. “Without his vision, a large amount of this wouldn’t began to pass.”
It would be a thrilling, generous hour-long performance. Ice Cube seemed genuinely happy as danced which has a visible glee. Although audience members continued to exit, a large lot stayed to cheer him on. They recognized Cube’s greatness as being a king in the West.
“The party’s just begun! Let’s dont stop learning .!” he exhorted. “Westsiiide!” See Taylor Swift Bad Blood featuring Lamar.