And now, a different ’80s revival. At B.B. King’s on October 21, a celebration of hip-hop history coincided with the release of Ernie Paniccioli‘s photography book Who Shot Ya?. Partygoers sported Pumas, Adidas, and geeky-cool glasses à la Run-D.M.C. while DJs Drama and Beverly Bond spun old-school classics like Whodini’s “Freaks Come Out at Night” and Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.”
Some of the book’s featured hip-hop icons turned up to pay their dues to the “Indian guy who was always trying to take your picture even when you didn’t want it taken,” as Ed Lover and Doctor Dre put it. Grandwizzard Theodore, Black Sheep, Kool Herc, Fab Five Freddy, and a particularly happy cat from Stetsasonic signed autographs for fans. The night’s host, and the book’s editor, Kevin Powell (of MTV Real World fame), elicited squeals of joy from the ladies, and two breakin’ crews, Full Circle and Rock Steady, threw down some sick moves. But the highlight of the evening was MC Lyte‘s comeback performance. Petite, blonde, dressed in a red track suit, and barely looking a day over 25, the “original lady of hip-hop” bounded through some of her favorites—”Cha Cha Cha,” “I Cram to Understand U,” and “Ruffneck”—before giving a sneak peak of her upcoming single, “Ride Wit Me,” which made a pointed reference to the ” ‘hos who need to be stopped because they are loose!” That drew squeals too.
The night’s finale came when Black Sheep jumped up for a raucous rendition of “The Choice Is Yours” that had the stage near collapse, and the audience too.
photo: Tricia Romano
And now, a different kind of hip-hop. Whether the Streets, a/k/a Mike Skinner, can even be considered hip-hop is up for debate, but his debut album, Original Pirate Material (Vice Records), has the press labeling him a genius and comparing him to the Sex Pistols, Eminem, even the Bard himself. But the 23-year-old sensation—who cops to owning the Vanilla Ice record (and liking it) and whose biggest vice is gummy bears—has more pressing issues to discuss before his sold-out New York debut at the Bowery Ballroom. Forget U.S. hip-hop vs. U.K.; Eminem vs. the Streets. The real issue: Britney or Christina?
[Long pause] Christina. But I think Britney’s made headway lately.
FLY LIFE: In the slut category?
Christina has just gone too slutty. Britney was a bit boring. Christina was like Britney with bigger tits. But Christina is a better singer. She’s guilty of that singer complex—when you hear them it sounds like a vocal exercise. [The baby-faced artist starts singing high notes, badly.]
FL: If you were to produce Christina, what would you tell her?
I would just tell her to shut up! [He laughs.] Just sing the words. I don’t want to hear any of that . . . [makes noises]. Amazing voice, but just calm down a bit.
FL: And then maybe put some clothes on her?
Forget the cabaret law, the RAVE Act, and the noise code. What might really crush nightlife is Mayor Bloomberg‘s anti-smoking bill—which would ban cigs in any club or bar. As Robert Bookman, the lawyer for the New York Nightlife Association points out, if you think neighbors are in a tiff over noisy bars and drunken revelers now, what’s going to happen when a few thousand soused nightcrawlers converge on the city’s sidewalks to puff away?
“It runs counterintuitive to the Silent Night proposal,” says Bookman, referring to the mayor’s new plan to quiet New York’s main drags. “If you want to keep streets quiet, the last thing you want to do is turn them into smoking halls.”
It looks like at least one city councilperson is on their side. Last week, Councilman James S. Oddo, a Staten Island Republican, proposed a bill that would extend the current smoking ban to restaurants with less than 35 people. Oddo has requested a hearing on the bill from Speaker of the Council Gifford Miller.
Bookman pooh-poohs those who say that the smoking ban in California didn’t negatively affect the industry: “California is not New York City. We don’t have big bars with parking lots and nice weather. We have small places with residents right next door.”
And now, another promoting mix-up: Ipecac Recordings, co-owned by Mike Patton (of Faith No More fame), had a CMJ showcase scheduled for Halloween at the Roxy, but it was canceled after the club double-booked the night with DJ Carl Cox. Says an Ipecac spokesperson: “Clear Channel, who was promoting the [Ipecac] event, suggested that we share the venue, but management for Carl Cox declined.” Originally slated for Irving Plaza, the label event was moved to the Roxy after tickets quickly sold out in July. The cancellation caused a ruckus, with Ipecac fans inundating Cox’s message boards with racist and homophobic comments, prompting Ipecac co-owner Greg Werckman to request that fans behave themselves.
In the end, the club went with a Coxy at the Roxy party: As a non-CMJ event (no badges are being honored) charging 50 bucks a head, it’s an offer they couldn’t refuse.