The Kings of the Mic concluded their 26-date American tour Sunday night at the Greek, and throughout the four-hour evening, classic old school hip-hop ruled. Featuring some of the most important MCs of the '80s and '90s -- De La Soul, Public Enemy, Ice Cube and LL Cool J -- the Kings visited their subjects in L.A. for an open-air lesson in so-called real hip-hop.
A full review will arrive later today, but below are a few quick takeaways.
1. The most unenviable slot on this tour is the opening one -- fans filing in, getting situated, not really feeling the groove just yet. De La Soul, whose debut album, “3 Feet High and Rising,” remains one of the most important hip-hop albums of the genre’s first decade, accepted the challenge. Delivering classics including “Buddy,” “Oooh” and “Potholes in My Lawn,” the trio from Long Island playfully, joyfully chided the Los Angeles crowd to its feet early on, and helped keep the packed house standing all night long.
2. Public Enemy brought a full band on tour with it, and pummeled the crowd with its intense, still vital jams. Chuck D chucked the words to "Welcome to the Terrordome" like bullets while the group’s two militant dancers, the S1-Ws, marched in rhythm. And introducing his brother-in-arms Flava Flav, D declared the world’s best hype-man to be “more than a TV show, Los Angeles.” The proof? Flava’s continued verve and ridiculous charisma -- as well as a reasonably impressive bass solo and a stint behind the drums.
3. Ice Cube may not have had the so-called headlining slot, which was reserved for LL Cool J, but this is Los Angeles, so by proxy he was the true king of the Greek on Sunday. The South Central-bred rapper-turned-actor owned North Central, delivering not only his own gangsta-rap stunners but also a series of his best verses from his time with N.W.A. And, yes, he did “It Was a Good Day” -- and most rapped every word.
4. LL Cool J was hot as hell, as evidenced by the soppiness of his “Authentic” purple T-shirt by the end of the night, which he wore tight on his torso. The seductive New Yorker, who once vowed in song that he’d never return to Cali, has done the most California thing imaginable with his career: He’s a star of a TV series called "NCIS: Los Angeles." There’s a reason why he's endured: The man is a pro, and convincingly pumped up the guys while seducing their ladies throughout his set. The ladies love cool James, indeed.
Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit