By Jose Mujica
Last night, Charlotteans packed The Fillmore in anticipation of one of the most legendary duos in hip hop history, Eric B and Rakim, in their latest stop of their Don’t Sweat The Technique Tour
Not many acts, especially in a genre as rebellious and youth-oriented as hip hop could continue to pack venues across the nation 30 plus years after their debut, a testament to the abundant love fans have for the golden era group, but the excitement was palpable as people awaited their entrance. Predictably, it was an older crowd than what one may see at most hip hop shows these days, but that’d be hard to tell by the boisterous energy and enthusiasm they lavished upon the iconic duo.
Once Eric B made his entrance, walking to the turntables with every ounce of swagger possible, dropping his jacket with his back to the crowd, then turning around and beginning to spin masterfully, the crowd went wild. Then Rakim walked on stage with the signature Yankees cap, the beat for “Don’t Sweat the Technique” dropped and as the entire crowd began rapping along with Rakim, it was clear we were witnessing two veterans of the game doing what they do best.
The audience was transported back into the 80s as the DJ played classics such as NWA’s “Boyz In Da Hood,” LL Cool J’s “Rock The Bells” and Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story” to warm up the crowd and the trip down memory lane only intensified when the headliners began their set. Starting immediately with “Don’t Sweat The Technique,” Eric B. and Rakim worked through their many classics stopping at one point to make a bet over whether or not Rakim would work up a sweat by the end of the show.
Confident in his coolness, Rakim pledged not to remove his jacket or use a towel and remain perspiration free throughout the show, and while I wasn’t close enough to notice if he ever started sweating, he kept his promises and remained jacketed, refusing to touch any towels offered to him throughout the night.To be fair he did take a few breaks when he brought fellow old-school guests on stage such as Brooklyn brethren, Special Ed, who performed “I Got It Made“ to the ravenous crowd.
Horace Brown also made an appearance and serenaded the audience with a soulful rendition of “One For the Money” and lastly, Greg Nice from old-school duo Nice & Smooth absolutely dominated the stage with powerful performance of “Hip Hop Junkies” before showcasing his beatboxing abilities.
All in all, the night felt like jumping in time machine to a time where the sound of hip hop was much more raw and organic, less refined and certainly less ‘pop’ with an undeniably appeal of grit, wisdom and street essence.
We’re living in a time where the generational divisions amongst hip hops fans are probably more apparent than ever. Older hip hop fans criticize the new wave for their flamboyant style of dress and aesthetic, the lack of substance and lyrical proficiency in the music and disregard for traditional norms. While some younger hip hop fans, on the other hand, see the 90s era and the Golden Era of hip hop as outdated, boring and “dusty.” As the genre ages, these culture conflicts are surely nowhere near being settled, but if there is any proof that “real hip hop” is still well and alive, its clear and apparent at legendary shows such as these.
Eric B and Rakim ended their set with “Paid In Full.” and it was clear why Rakim didn’t have to break a sweat at his show. He spit the first few bars then remained completely silent for the rest of the song and rocked with the crowd as they rapped his song back to him. After three decades, fans are still eager to follow the leader.
Check out the remaining 2018 tour dates for Eric B. and Rakim.