Ten Hip-Hop Albums That Would Make Great Performances
Somehow, billing an artist to play their most famous release, exclusively, got super vogue all of the sudden. Nas did Illmatic. Erykah Badu did Baduizm. A Tribe Called Quest did Midnight Marauders. So, yeah, some good stuff got covered, but what else is there? In appreciation of the ever-strong Rock The Bells festival series, and also of the more sponsorship-heavy recent Red Bull Music Academy, here’s ten shows that we would want to see.
Kanye West and Jay-Z – Watch The Throne
There’s zero conjecture here, because this tour is scheduled — the first date of the Watch The Throne is 10/28 in Atlanta. Though, like many others, I was initially cold on the album that suffered under the weight of its own impossible expectations, WTT has enormous, epic potential on a stadium scale. ?uestlove showed me the light. I suppose there’s the question of whether Kanye and Jay-Z, two incredible performers in their own right, can share a stage, but are you really that concerned about it?
Possibility Score: 10/10. It is happening. Soon.
Ghostface Killah – Ironman
Given Wu Tang’s recent proclivity to reprise their biggest, most triumphant LPs — they’ll trot out Enter The 36 Chambers next week and Rock The Bells featured Raekwon playing a set that was Only Built For Cuban Linx heavy — one could certainly see how Ghost might get in on the action and do a Ironman-specific show. As always, a Wu solo LP never hovers too far away from the posse, so you’d want Raekwon, at least, to be there. Every time I’ve seen Ghostface, he either blew everyone else off the stage despite the fact that he was on a plane five minutes earlier, or ripped of long, serpentine rant about something (at Rock The Bells, it was about the mics; “EQ these shits!” he yelled. It was like the Chapelle’s Show “Fisticuff” sketch).
Possibility Score: 9/10.
UGK – Ridin’ Dirty
Ah, you’ve already caught me cheating. Since Pimp C is now holding down heaven, a Ridin’ Dirty reunion couldn’t happen. But, I could certainly see a tribute type of thing going down, where maybe Big K.R.I.T. or other like-minded up-and-comers that cite Pimp C as an influence? That sound is coming back hard. Even if it’s just Bun, it’s worth the price of admission. When I saw Bun in Austin, he gladly performed Pimp C’s parts on a number of UGK tracks, including the late UGK-Outkast collab “International Player’s Anthem.”
Possibility Score: 0/10
Outkast – Aquemini
You have to feel like Outkast doesn’t really go for this type of thing; a group that basically symbolizes integrity and reputation, they’ve passed up the easy money time and time again. But, with every rare, new Andre verse, you just get that itch again (ONE MORE ALBUM GUYS, PLEASE!). But, a full-on performance of Outkast’s most-revered LP would be one of the hottest tickets ever.
Possibility Score: 5/10
Brand Nubian – One For All
An abstract, alternative rap masterpiece, Brand Nubian’s One For All probably doesn’t have the brand recognition that other rap groups skewing avant-garde in the early ’90s might have had, but it makes One For All that much richer of a document. Flexing heavy muscle on the sample side of things (James Brown, Earth Wind & Fire, Cannonball Adderly, to name a few), the beauty and fun spirit of the music overshadowed Brand Nubian’s somewhat militant inclinations. MCs Grand Puba, Lord Jamar, and Sadat X have been somewhat active with solo careers, and have even reunited in the past couple of years, but the cause wasn’t this grandiose.
Possibility Score: 6/10
Ludacris – Back For The First Time
Ludacris became a household name off of Back For The First Time and he never topped it. But who could hold it against him — remember “Southern Hospitality?” Jesus. I’m still droppin’ ‘bows to that. His latest LP, Battle Of The Sexes, was clearly the work of an artist focused on other things, which could be construed as a compliment (that album sucks). If Ludacris is serious about coming back — he’s apparently at work on an LP titled Ludaversal — it’s gonna take a reminder of what brought us here in the first place. A Back For The First Time show would do the trick. Also, there’s just an endless amount of ways to chop the LP title up into something catchy: Back For The Last Time?
Possibility Score: 7/10
Clipse – We Got It 4 Cheap Vol. 2
One of the most distressing things that can happen within the recorded performance/live performance dynamic is becoming obsessed with an artist’s song, but one that’s only featured on a mixtape. And I understand that. The live show, for a lot of people, is an entirely commercial enterprise, and in such a situation, you’re trying to sell your CDs. That’s not lost one me, at all. But, given that my favorite Clipse songs are almost primarily from free downloads, there’s a razor-thin chance I’ll get to hear them, because the Clipse are seemingly almost always in the position where their CD is doing fine, but it could certainly stand to do better. I’d definitely take a silver medal and see a Hell Hath No Fury show though. Assuming that Malice will perform, long-term, again.
Possibility Score: 4/10
Ice Cube – The Predator
If Gathering Of The Juggalos is any indication, Ice Cube can still rip a stage when he’s not pitching sitcoms. Predator, his opus, which was an angry, direct response to the Rodney King riots that tore apart L.A., but the LP has a softer side too; “It Was A Good Day,” which is one of the hugest ’90s anthems (despite its dubious basketball statkeeping), is on this record alongside “Check Yo Self” and “Wicked.” I’d love to avoid going to the Gathering for this set, but I’d consider it, even then.
Possibility Score: 8/10
The Pharcyde – Bizarre Ride II
Bizarre Ride II, or Pharcyde in general, is one of those establishments that people feel safe namechecking even if they haven’t spent a lot of time with the record. That’s fair, but I implore them to dip into this record’s charming weirdo lushness and lyrical lightness; it’s just fucking fun. They’ve already played Rock The Bells (in 2008), so this is about as close to a homerun as something that’s unconfirmed can be.
Possibility Score: 9/10. I think I just tipped you on Rock The Bells 2012. Inadvertently, I swear.
Dr. Dre – The Chronic
How fast would this sell out?
Possibility Score: 4/10. Or about the same chance we’ll ever hear Detox.