The hip-hop tour is a strange link between the end of the last millennium and the beginning of this one.
Due to the highly sampled nature of the genre, Hip-Hop songs often cannot be completely recreated live. It would be quite a spectacular feat if Kanye West were to resurrect Curtis Mayfield to let rip the heavily sampled 'Move On Up' each time he performs his legendary track 'Touch The Sky', but to my knowledge this isn't yet possible - even for Yeezus.
As a result of this unfortunate limitation, hip hop shows are often performed with some sort of backing track. Recorded songs rarely sound as authentic as original, live instrumentation. Commonly in concerts, we see a lone rapper standing on stage in front of thousands of adoring supporters, like some musically elected politician. The artist proceeds to perform a range of songs, from their greatest hits to the tracks that only their most loyal fans will know.
Some argue that the lack of live instrumentation can make for quite an empty experience. But I would argue that it gives artists an incredible level of freedom. Freedom that has been taken advantage of to produce some weird and wonderful artistic experiences. Specifically, I've got five of these such experiences that I'd love to tell you about. We'll be releasing them article by article over the next few weeks to give you the chance to dig into each of them.
The Unforgettable Classic: Up In Smoke
The year 2000 for many was something of a science fiction comic title. In the hip hop community, we certainly had a fantasy come true. The Up In Smoke tour boasted the full might of Dr Dre’s West Coast empire, emerging from the still raging flames of Death Row Record’s firey death. Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg headlined, while a young Eminem got his first blood of live performance, backed by the already legendary Ice Cube and many more artists from Dre’s new label Aftermath, now one of the most successful hip hop machines to date.
Rumour circulated about the tour throughout the late 90s after the death of Tupac and Biggie and formation of Dre’s new hip hop vanguard, stoking its popularity before it even began. Ice Cube, who had fanned a devisive and deeply passionate relationship with Dre for years after leaving NW.A, was only a very late addition that sent sales sizzling, and there were even rumours MC Ren would join up to create a N.W.A reunion (tragically without the deceased Eazy-E of course). On an otherwise legendary tour with increasingly grandiose performances however, this rumour sadly never came to fruition (yet).
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