By Dashaun Simmons
It takes a lot of confidence for an underground artist on an indie rap label to perform two back-to-back shows in NY at different venues. What group would take on such a task? The most random group in hip hop Random Axe. The group is made up of three rappers from two different regions; Sean Price hailing from Brooklyn flanked by Guilty Simpson and Black Milk representing Detroit. Whoever was in charge of promoting the first show should have problems showing their face in public. The crowd was far from being full. On the day of the show, tickets were being sold at half price to fill the space. Such a turnout could possibly be expected if only Random Axe was on the bill, but that was not the case. Hip Hop veterans and fellow Duck Down artists Smif N Wessun (who have their own new album with Pete Rock dropping very soon) were also on the bill. To help round things out, Atlantic Records recording artist Maino was also slated to perform bringing, Jadakiss and Styles P from The Lox along for the ride. With all of these names on the flyer you would think at least half of the venue would be full, but it was not to be.
As most rap shows go time is an elastic concept and this one was no different. The first performance started 2 hours after the doors opened. Random Axe began their show with Guilty up first on the microphone and Black Milk on the turntables. After performing one solo song, Guilty introduces arguably the star of the group Sean Price. The audience goes nuts as he performs his well-known freestyle Finger Four. With the crowd officially warmed up the group dived head first into some album material like Random Call, The Hex and Chewbacca. A number of people were familiar with the songs and rapped along. One fan even tried to get the group to autograph his CD (he actually purchased a CD!) while they were still on stage. Instead of a Sean Price autograph this kid got a “f&^k outta here!” from P. It should be noted that Black Milk did sign an autograph after the show for this fan. The group still has some work to do being comfortable together on stage. Their performance seemed like three solo artists rather than a group. Black Milk who seems like the little brother (no 9th Wonder) of the group had the most energy and did his best to keep the crowd engaged. Unfortunately due to technical difficulties the show was cut short and Sean’s mic went dead mid verse. If this were the 90s, the sound man would have a lawsuit on his hands. But it’s 2011, so we just moved on to the Smif N Wessun portion of the show.
Tek and Steele put together a great show for this small crowd of fans. The place almost seemed full as they performed some classic records from their debut album Dah Shinning. They even took it back to the first Black Moon album performing their first appearance on wax Black Smif N Wessun with their often rhyme partner and CEO Buckshot. The songs from their Pete Rock produced new album Monumental seemed to give the group an extra boost of energy. However as Steele mentioned, for a full listen of the album the audience would have to come out for their album release event the following week. Their set ended with the gem PNC and a salute to the crowd for rocking with them for so many years. The majority of the audience left with Smif N Wessun and it seemed like no one could be bothered to see if Maino would even show up. 20 minutes later the lights were still off but only a Jadakiss mixtape was supposed to keep the crowd entertained. What a random night.