Busta Rhymes and Ron Browz
B.B. King Blues Club
Star power does funny things to your eyes. Take last night’s Busta Rhymes/Ron Browz show at B.B. King, for instance. I mistook Kool Herc for Grey’s Anatomy’s Dr. Richard Webber–an honest mistake considering that the four elements of hip-hop are: 1) beatboxing; 2) graffitti; and 3) hospital dramas–but it speaks to kind of night it was.
After a lively if traditional DJ set from DJ Self, Ron Browz took the stage to a medley of his hit productions (“I’ll Whip Ya Head Boy,” “Ether”). The Harlem producer made the interesting decision to sing without auto-tune. LeBron James doesn’t show up to basketball games without his sneakers, so God knows why Browz left the pitch corrector in his foot locker uptown. After a tone-deaf rendition of “Jumping Out the Window,” Browz brought out Juelz Santana, rocking a hat that gave him a decidedly Topol/Fiddler on the Roof look, to perform his verse on the smash “Pop Champagne.” Santana went on to do an abbreviated version of “Mic Check,” and upon seeing Browz’s rather casually dressed male dancers Krumping to his classic, a look came across his face that screamed, “Man, I wish Ron Browz would have told me a couple of guys who look like T-Mobile salesmen were going to Krumping while I was onstage because I have a feeling the internet will collectively say, ‘Pause,’ tomorrow when this footage hits the web.”
After an interminable wait, soundtracked to such classics as Jay-Z’s “Brooklyn’s Finest” and the perhaps unwise choice of the Biggie skit where the late Christopher Wallace receives a blowjob (R.I.P.), Busta Rhymes finally took the stage. The physicality that Busta brought to his early videos (before he started carbing up and re-making Mr. and Mrs. Smith) was in full effect as the former Leader of the New School came bounding out to “Tear Da Roof Off” wearing a Louis Vuitton suitcase with armholes cut into it.
Shit proceeded to get chemically unstable when Busta followed up his grand entrance by muttering “Horns,” and Brownsville’s greatest contribution to human endeavor, M.O.P., crashed the stage for a really cathartic version of “Ante Up,” co-starring Busta as the Tazmanian Devil and the crowd as the closest thing B.B. King would see to a pit.
Perhaps exhausted by the realness or something, Busta needed to bring us all down by not only taking a stroll through his rather thin recent catalog of near-miss hits, a karaoke session featuring his favorite ’70s slow-jams (Ghostface wants his gimmick back, dude), and a version of “Give It To Me” that went on longer than the second half of Lawrence of Arabia and featured Spliff Starr telling an anecdote about conceiving a son to the song.
Just when you thought it was safe to hear “Scenario” and “Put Ya Hands Where My Eyes Can See” and get the hell home for Grey’s Anatomy, Busta brought out perpetually up-and-coming New Yorkers Maino, Uncle Murder and Red Café to perform some of their “hits” (“Hi Haters,” “Paper Touching”) and announce the formation of the supergroup absolutely nobody in the world was anticipating, the Conglomerate. (Membership in which can be attainted by, according to Busta, “showing up in each other’s videos”–Uncle Murder makes videos?)
With the night on life support, Busta broke out the paddles and shocked us one last time, bringing out Beenie Man, who called X-ecutioners DJ Roc Raida a “bumbaclaat” and toasted “Girls Dem Sugar” over the “Put Ya Hands” instrumental. Decked out in a unbelievable white suit, and still in possession of his formidable talents after 16 years of recording, Beenie slithered and jumped around the stage, making us see stars one last time.–Chris Ryan