Salt-N-Pepa/Naughty by Nature/Slick Rick
Monday, August 2
“Y’all look like a free concert out here,” notes Salt wryly, shortly before launching into “I’ll Take Your Man” in front of, indeed, thousands and thousands of nostalgia-crazed people. Yes, it’s a “Y’all remember this one?” sort of show, which is great, actually, when we’re asked to remember stuff like “Push It,” “Hip Hop Hooray,” “Children’s Story,” and the dynamic public-speaking acumen of Marty Markowitz.
Yes, it’s an MLK Series show, so Marty is on hand to emcee, delivering the sad news that Aretha Franklin fell in her hotel room (Marty was specific on this point) and canceled her much-heralded shows here next week, and otherwise parading out the usual rogue’s gallery of radio employees, local politicians, and super-overzealous Applebee’s spokesmen. (I believe that you met Busta Rhymes backstage. I do not believe that he said, “Thank you for bringing Applebee’s to the hood.”) Our photographer was super excited to grab this Marty Action Shot:
Slick Rick is your opener, decked out in elegant mustard and pink, his neck impressively sturdy given all the chains, changing the lyrics to “La-Di-Da-Di” so now it’s “I’m too old for you miss” and “I’m 45!!!!!” (huge applause). He and his DJ do a bizarre old-school/new-school battle to determine whether the crowd likes Drake’s “Over” or House of Pain’s “Jump Around” better. (Guess.) Then, triumphantly, it’s “Children’s Story,” and the guy behind me who’d smirked “Who that, Waka Flocka!” as the set began is rapping along with every word.
Naughty by Nature start with “O.P.P.,” end with “Hip-Hop Hooray, and hit or miss in the space between; their cries of “Y’all remember this?” are a little more imploring. They have new material, too, which is not a good idea. “Everything’s Gonna Be All Right” is very convincing. Re: Treach, anyone who can still take off his shirt at an old-school night deserves respect, and he actually gets the biggest cheer of the night when, right before walking offstage, he announces, “My baby mama and ‘nem up next.”
Salt-N-Pepa are also remarkably well-preserved, and have more than enough hits to fill up their 45 minutes, even if they’re way more liable to luxuriate in, say, “Whatta Man” (“Don’t sleep on the sanitation workers,” we are advised — “They get benefits, they get good checks”) than “Let’s Talk About Sex,” which is confined to just the intro and is preceded by a plea that we unmarried types consider abstinence instead. There is light choreography and, between your two headliners, tremendously winsome rapport. Busta comes out and does “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See.” Your climactic moment, of course, is “Push It,” oddly followed by a gospel-rap coda for maximum incongruity. “I’ll shout out my baby daddy,” Pepa notes, agreeably.
We all remembered.