Masterful hip-hop from De La Soul caps weak night

The concert began with a group called Reks, which was indeed a wreck. Their enunciation was so poor that I was unable to write down ONE line of their racket. (They kept chucking copies of their CD single into the audience; were they trying to hurt us?) Reks was followed by the duo Ill ‘n’ P. Sound system problems plagued their reggae-inflected performance; they left the stage with: “If ya’ll were able to understand these lyrics, God bless.” No comment.

We then waited at least a 45 minutes for Biz Markie to shuffle onstage with his jump-suited entourage. I had high hopes that he would make up for the lackluster opening acts. He didn’t. The entire audience was hugely let down when Markie forgot the words to perhaps his most famous song, “Just a Friend.” Everyone was dancing and singing “oh baby you, you got what I need,” and then at the second verse Markie broke out in “dee-dahh-doos” instead of reciting the words. It wasn’t until the audience helped him out that he resumed with the proper lyrics. The artist then proceeded to advertise his new album but blanked on the album’s title. Was this some sort of joke that none of us understood? Or, as the guy standing next to me said, was “Biz Markie trippin’?” Apparently he wasn’t, because the performer claimed, “I’m not stoned or nuthin’, I just can’t remember its title right now.”

I felt bad for De La Soul when they finally dashed on stage; the audience was seriously lacking energy from the previous disappointing acts. Eventually they got the crowd on its feet, especially when they performed their older hits, such as “Thru Ya City” and “Me, Myself, and I.” Although they haven’t topped the charts since the ’80s, De La Soul’s three MCs, Posdnuos, Trugoy the Dove, and Pasemaster Mase, concentrated their 45-minute set on newer material from albums such as “Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump.” It was an unexpected choice, but a successful one, as the new material compared well to the old classics. Over its long history, the group has continued to refine its eclectic, jazz-inflected approach to hip-hop. Their portion of the concert, although lamentably brief in comparision to the opening acts, suggested that young turks like Eminem (not to mention Reks) could still learn a thing or two from the old school masters.