“This guy’s on the internet,” says DJ Green Lantern, by way of introducing Atlanta’s Pill–a curious diminution for a rapper whose best songs (“Trap Goin’ Ham,” or you know, “We Outside”) are very much about being nowhere near anything like a computer. Anyway, it’s not like being on the internet will save you: just ask OJ Da Juiceman, whose three-song set and subsequent crowd-aided flight from the stage at last night’s Nah Right/On Smash CMJ showcase at BB Kings proved–if nothing else–that in New York, it’s still where you’re from that matters. “What happened to mutual respect?” asked HOT97’s Miss Info from the stage, as she attempted to quiet the emphatic chorus of boos that had just chased OJ from the stage. “Fuck that,” yelled some dude. “Wu-Tang!”
Karma is a motherfucker. Raekwon hit the stage sometime around 2 a.m., only to commence a set more psychodrama than rap show: “My voice fucking shot out on me,” is the first thing he says, or rather, gargles. It’s painful just listening to him talk, and that’s at least half of what he does–for every “C.R.E.A.M.,” a heartfelt, wrenching, serrated whisper of an apology to the crowd. “This shit is hurting me,” he whimpers at one point. That the Chef soldiers on through something approximating a full set is both admirable and painful to watch, psychic, emotional, and physical pain not being the thing one expects from a triumphant late-night Raekwon performance. There is the sense he might actually start crying, so visibly frustrated as he is that “Canal Street” has somehow become Christian Bale’s final monologue in The Dark Knight. “I’ll be back,” he vows, as his team finally rushes him off the stage. See New York? This is why we can’t have nice things.
And so it is left to the familiar sight of Jadakiss and Styles P to salvage the evening, which they do, playing to a home-team crowd who, after enduring a drunken cameo by Kid Cudi and a never-ending series of openers, is still waiting for one of our own to get it right. “We could be up here for four hours,” says Jada, and it’s true: they open with “The Champ Is Here,” “2 Gunz Up,” and “Made You Look (Remix),” a murderer’s row that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. The duo is still going at 3 a.m., when the pull of the exit finally gets too strong, and it becomes apparent that “Who’s Real?” will being played very much sans an OJ cameo, though who knows when dude will be back again.