“Just Press Play”: From a hip hop fan’s perspective

 The All American Rejects Slideshow

 The Roots Slideshow

 Nina Sky Slideshow

 Rhymefest Slideshow


“Just Press Play,” the spring concert put together by Student Government, Inc., was an overall success. Rumor has it there were approximately 1,100 people in attendance. Not too shabby, but it definitely could have been better. By no means is Nina Sky a small act, but the Roots and All-American Rejects could have easily sold out all of Carnesecca Arena if the concert was advertised off campus, further in advance and if The Roots were added to the playbill earlier.


The show really started taking off once DJ Neil Armstrong took the stage and hosts Shang and DJ Zeke began hyping up the now larger crowd. It must be said that Neil Armstrong did a great job of mixing tracks throughout the night and keeping the energy somewhat lively. It was enjoyable hearing a few throwback songs such as Next’s “Too Close,” as well.


Rhymefest, who had performed earlier that day on the Great Lawn, was alright, but due to his lack of mass appeal, even within the hip-hop circuit, those in attendance only got into his set once he began rapping “Brand New,” his hit single. An unexpected turn of events took place when he brought two students from the crowd onstage to battle rap; it felt like watching a rough-and-ready episode of Freestyle Friday.


Noztra then came on stage and started doing his thing, providing the Latin flare the concert lacked. In no way was Noztra bad, but overall his performance fell on deaf ears as those in attendance didn’t match his usual audience demographic. Raggaeton is starting to catch on but still hasn’t reached the level where an artist can go to a school where Hispanics make up 14 percent of the population and expect to have meaningful Spanish dialogue with the assembly. That, however, does not mean that Noztra was inappropriate; after Urban Musicfest, the school needed a balanced show more than anything.


Nina Sky, who followed Noztra, put on a good show, albeit they did not use much of the stage area during their performance, barely waving their arms from side-to-side. While the Queens natives were worth the time and money simply because of the balance they brought to the concert, they did not do anything memorable enough to note. They came on, did their time, and left; short, sweet, and exactly what they were paid for.


Now, when The Roots took the stage, it was as if the concert got bumped up 10 notches. The Roots brought with them an energy and vibe that simply cannot be found anywhere else. Nobody else in the hip-hop or rock scenes can measure up to the quality of their live performances; no Joe Rockstar mimicking here. They played a number of songs from their various albums including “Break You Off,” and “The Seed (2.0).” In between songs during their scheduled hour-long set they included phenomenal solos from all of the instrumentalists including Hub (bass), ?uestlove (drums), Captain Kirk (guitar), and Kamal (Keyboard). Hub should be arrested for the things he does with a bass, as should the rest of the crew.


Towards the end of their time the band went through a series of cover songs that seamlessly transitioned into one another, from Talib Kweli’s “Get By,” to Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.” The Roots’ performance was simply unmatched. The majority of the audience, however, would likely beg to differ, as the people in the bleachers were still not on their feet. That is, not until the All-American Rejects came on stage, and for a whopping 20-minutes.


It is understandable that the All-American Rejects are hot right now within the rock scene, but the question has to be asked, how different are they from the rest of the rock bands out there? The difference between The Roots and the rest of hip-hop is blatantly discernable. What exactly do the All-American Rejects do that is different and would get more people excited over The Roots?


The Roots released their debut album in 1995 while the All-American Rejects released theirs in 2002, but they still managed to get more people excited during their extraordinarily short time on stage. It’s okay though; The Roots’ career will likely outlive that of the All-American Rejects and the Rejects will end up being the ones having to move along.