If Chuck D’s right—that rap is the CNN of the streets—then goddamn did the opening rap crews bring the news: Bush planned 9-11. Josephus ghostwrote the Bible. That eye over the temple on the dollar bill—yes, says Immortal Technique, that’s an alien spaceship. Bonus news: If Technique were president, promises Technique, he’d “replace every raped virgin’s broken hymen.” And we thought tax cuts were awesome.
Not that Ghostface has ever run low on nonsense, but at least he’s smiling. Hyped by his protégé Trife, Ghost worked 20 minutes through better-known verses from “Run,” “Wildflower,” and “Ice Cream” off Raekwon’s Cuban Linx, half-hoping this crowd of Linkin Park T-shirts, what with their Ws thrown up and camera phones out, might rap along and redeem themselves for initially mistaking Trife for him. No dice, but at least Ghost got a chance to explain why he always asks light engineers to “change the light game up”: If they just stick him with one color, Ghost says, “that fuck with my emotions.”
Maybe that’s why Fort Minor featuring Mike Shinoda, a/k/a Linkin Park featuring Black People, kept their lights moving. Forget emotions; if Minor’s stage had stuck to one color, we’d realize their songs are ciphers, barely accounting for their own existence. “The first thing I need when I got a new beat/is to see how it sounds echoing off the street,” Shinoda shares on “In Stereo”; who knew he’d be so excited about becoming a real rapper? But it ain’t all glory for Fort Minor. Just ask minor Minor MC Ryu: “My life’s like swallowing a pine cone.” As if he’s not still raking in those Tony Hawk bucks.
In an effort to “jazz up” or “hip-hopify” the Linkin Park sound but not too much, Shinoda brought out a drummer, three sensitive male singer types for the oohs and aahs, a string trio called Black Violin, more rappers, and a turntablist who mostly just triggered guitar samples. It was a big fat sound rap execs think Park kids think rap is about, but after all that the only line that stuck was Ghost’s: “Every time you go uptown, you get gypped.”