Despite lingering presumptions that Roxbury’s Edo G. was with Da Bulldogs and not the other way around, the Boston mic-controller incontrovertibly proved Friday at heavily billed concert at Bucktown’s Congress Theater that his Massachusetts Bay sound was and still is not determined by committee. Edo’s wild, free-flowing Afro was neatly braided and crowned by an Adidas headband (in keeping with Boston area hip-hopheads’ preferences for their homegrown athletic gear company. That adjustment to appearance was the only major change for Edo since his April Chicago performance with the Ground Control All-Stars Tour at Metro.
Edo worked for his props from the sparse Congress crowd as if he were trying to win a record deal for the first time, unlike other over-30 hip-hop music legends who presume that their accomplishments rate them the same awe accorded the Egyptian pyramids. His mic-controlling was resounding but evenly paced, his emceeing conversational, and his movement leisurely paced enough so that eyeballs did not have to pop-lock like lightning all over the stage to keep up with him and his hypeman Bret.
Some adulation was automatically built in as Edo served up samplings of his life’s work from the Bulldogs era “I Got To Have It” to the irresistible “Understand” from his current The Truth Hurts LP (Ground Control/Nu Gruv). But did not dissuade Edo from pulling out the stops to put on a thorough show. At one point, in a deconstructive of Run DMC, he and Bret donned pork pie hats and went into a crowd-pleasing hip-hop soft shoe near the foot of the Congress stage.
Edo’s four Boston area kinsmen, The Kreators, were the propriety-bending Heinz 57 hale mic-controllers well met with their collective Afro-Portugese, Hebrew, and Italian backgrounds characterized by pretty boy studs Jaysaun and 6-foot-something Big Juan, Falstaffian XL, and stoic DJ-producer G-Squared as the good-timing brothers you would blunt, booze, and broad with. Their swaggering, charming someone in-your-face abandon turn most apocalyptic when joined by Edo for the Boston anthem “Home.” And G-Squared enthralled the Congress crowd by momentarily abandoning his turntables to join the mic-controlling on one Kreators’ number. The Boston acts’ fireside-chat of a lulling effect on the crowd was so pervasive that Oakland, CA’s Souls of Mischief found themselves putting in double duty to whip the crowd back into delirious frenzy.
Akbar’s performance was moderately compelling and evenly paced, although lacking the daredevil b-boy abandon of his underground performances with P-Lee Fresh in Mental Giants. Minneapolis-St. Paul’s Acupuncture proved livelier at times than it North Star State rivals Rhymesayers, with an mic-controlling counterpointing relieved on the breaks by a windmilling and headspinning B-boy. Ang-13’s new femme group Lyrisis was the liveliest, with a rough and ready straight B-girl sassiness and precisioned hip-hop dance moves that left the Congress crowd spellbound.
Aztec’s collective flow was a tad discombobulated throughout much of their set, with the lead chicano with a fast-spitting mic-controlling that smothered the richness of his razapolitical verse. The group’s Dominican Papa Doc possessed a smooth, silky hepcat flow that was to die for. B-Movie Fiendz’ was slightly livelier than its live-band instrumentals despite the best efforts of his axe players. Gary, IN’s Mob Life needed to concentrate less on its smug gangsta-player lean and more on breathing some real life
into their mismatched and barely tolerable performance in an otherwise artistically fit lineup.
MARK FITZGERALD ARMSTRONG
11706 SOUTH THROOP STREET
CHICAGO, IL 60643