Forget about their dud of a fish-out-of-water movie, the goofy fish-out-of-water sitcom, and the straight-out-of-left-field deodorant commercials.
When in their own element — onstage — the Cheech and Chong of rap, Redman and Method Man, put on a show that was worth waiting five hours to see under a sunstorm that beat down on nearly 20,000 throw-back sports jersey and bikini-wearing concertgoers like an 808 kick drum.
That was the scene at this year’s all-day KUBE Summer Jam at The Gorge Amphitheatre on Saturday.
Meth and Red saved what almost ended up being one of the most lukewarm KUBE Summer Jams in the 12-year history of the hottest hip-hop festival that comes to the Northwest.
The only other performances that drew any tangible response from the crowd of about 18,000 came from Twista, Ashanti and Chingy.
The rest of Summer Jam’s roster proved to be a who’s who of mostly Down-South studio gangstas who don’t yet grasp the most basic hip-hop fundamental that defines the duties of an emcee: Move the crowd.
Of all the lackluster acts, the most pitiful performance was delivered by a rapper who was bred in the birthplace of hip-hop, New York’s Ja Rule.
Thankfully, he didn’t further waste the audience’s time by pressing upon his beef with hip-hop’s Six Million Dollar Man, 50 Cent.
Instead he swindled his way through two five-minute sets, book-ending a much-needed energize from fellow Inc. songstress Ashanti. The R&B singer had the crowd more hyped in one song than the Rule’s shammin’ set of nickel-flat chorus-chants.
Rule wasn’t the only Summer Jammer who came off slapdash. The festival’s opening R&B act, Houston, lip-synched his entire set. Inc. singer Lloyd’s set was one song long.
There was an obvious theme of hip-hop collaborations, but some of the younger acts didn’t think to take advantage of it. New-schoolers Chingy and Houston have a hit song together, “I Like That.” Instead of sharing the stage during that song, they each performed it separately.
With Chingy having just a verse on the song, he only used about 40 seconds of it in his performance. Houston sang over the radio edit with Chingy’s recorded vocals sounding through the Gorge, despite the fact that Chingy was standing backstage listening to his virtual self with the rest of the Summer Jam crowd.
Red and Meth, on the other hand, weaved through their solo material and duets in one seamless 90-minute set that was too hard to follow and still be taken seriously by the remaining acts.
Both Def Jam vets, along with Method’s protege and fellow Wu-Tang affiliate, Streetlife, ripped the stage with all the charisma that is lacking in their acting blaxploits.
By the end of their set Redman and Method were playfully stage-diving into the audience as of it were a pit of plastic balls at Chuck E. Cheese.
After Redman and Method Man, relative nonname rapper Pitbull, “the Cuban who looks like a cracker,” got 30 minutes of stage time that he used to rap over borrowed beats from the likes of Fat Joe, Lil Jon, who was scheduled to go on next, and Twista. Pitbull’s covering “Overnight Celebrity,” which had just been heard from Twista a couple of hours earlier, was not only a waste of time, but paled in comparison.
After Pitbull, right at dusk, the crowd began filtering out while the Yin Yang Twins closed out the night for Down-South cohort Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz, announced as a no show “due to weather.”
It seems for Lil Jon anyway, Summer Jam wasn’t worth its time under the sun.
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