When you are living in the time of an active pandemic it’s easy to get nostalgic for the past. If only things could be like they used to be … if only we could go back to another time and place, a time when the world seemed simpler, when folks seemed happier, when the music that came out of your radio made you excited and ready to jump up and dance.
Unfortunately, much of that fantasy is just that – a fantasy. But, this Saturday we will all get a chance to go back in time in our minds and embrace the groundbreaking hip-hop artists of the past as The All Stars of Hip Hop tour once again comes to town 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16, at Boardwalk Hall.
The show is one-stop shopping for any fan of old-school hip-hop as it boasts a roster of legendary acts from the early days of the genre, all who will appear on stage one after the other performing the classic tracks they are best known for. We’re talking groundbreaking artists such as KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, Doug E Fresh and more.
One of the highlights of the night will be a performance from one of the most recognizable duos in hip-hop history, Kid ’n Play.
Known for their fun, positive lyrics as well as their signature dance The Kid ’n Play Kickstep, these New York natives managed to cross over into Hollywood, starring in the movie “House Party” in 1990, which was followed by a string of sequels. These days Kid ’n Play are back out performing to legions of fans throughout the nation, even appearing at Insane Clown Posse’s massive Gathering of the Juggalos event this past summer.
We had a chance to chat with Kid (real name Christopher Reid) about the old days, the modern days and his love of old-school hip hop. Here is what he had to say:
Ryan Loughlin: The All Stars of Hip Hop tour clearly has a nostalgia theme to it. Do you still listen to a lot of old-school hip-hop?
Kid: Absolutely. As much as I try to keep myself abreast of what the new vibes are, I am an old-school hip-hop head, and the more that time goes on, the more I appreciate it. I never want to lose my old-school handle because that’s what we came up on, that’s what raised us and there is a lot to be said for that. It’s still very relevant.
RL: When you first started out, did you ever think that hip-hop would reach the levels of popularity that it has grown to?
K: No. Who could have? We never would have thought it could be a career. We didn’t even dream that. We just knew that what we were doing excited us and that locally it made us kind of famous and popular, and we enjoyed being creative, but I don’t think anybody thought that hip-hop would take it this far.
RL: A lot of Kid n Play’s image was a lot more positive and youth-oriented than many other hip-hop artists. You even had a Saturday morning cartoon at one point. What made you decide to go in that direction?
K: A lot of it had to do with “House Party,” the movie. When that blew up, all the sudden everything was on the table, and people were coming at us with lots of projects and things. And Play and I were old-school, Saturday morning cartoon-type guys. And Play is an artist and a great illustrator, so when those opportunities came, (we jumped at them). We were asked, “Do you wanna be the first hip-hop artist to have a Saturday morning cartoon?” That was an easy thing to say “yes” to. And we took pride in that cause we were from that era where Saturday morning cartoons were legit. There wasn’t no Cartoon Network back then.
We enjoyed having that show and, honestly, it really bothered us when they took us off (the air). We took it personally, but upon retrospect I understand now what they were doing. This was part of them flipping everything on Saturday mornings from cartoons to live-action shows like “Saved by the Bell.” At the time we weren’t looking at the big picture, and we wanted our cartoon to go on forever, but it was part of a larger move. And it was the right move.
RL: “House Party” was one of the first hip-hop themed movies to break through to mainstream Hollywood. Was that a positive experience?
K: Oh yeah. I think part of it was that I had my good friend (Play) with me to go through it together. It was something neither of us had to do by ourselves, and I think that helped us. And we had some good people around us at the time which is always good. The people around us taught us that nothing is given, and you have to earn everything, but at the same time it’s OK to have fun. So we had fun every step of the way, and I think people understand that. We had a blast.
RL: You guys performed at the Gathering of the Juggalos last summer. Was that as bizarre of an experience as it seems?
K: We had an awesome time. On paper it seemed like, “this doesn’t go together,” but it really did. And I had known about ICP, and I respect their journey and what they had to do to get to where they got. That was our first time doing an ICP kind of show, but I’ll say this: They treated us great, and we had a great time with their audience. They loved us, and we loved them.
It’s like back in the day – in 1989 someone approached us and said, “We want you to be on a tour with N.W.A. and Easy E.” And I remember saying at the time, “That’s ridiculous, that doesn’t go together.” But guess what? It did. I didn’t think it was the same type of audience, but I was so wrong. And the great thing about music is that the audience gets to decide what they like and what goes together. And you never know until you try it.
All Stars of the All StarsOn the fence about whether or not to go to the show? Here’s a refresher course on some of the other big names on the bill.
KRS-One: The founder of legendary New York-based hip-hop act Boogie Down Productions, KRS-One has managed to sustain a career in rap music for more than a quarter century. Known for his political and social activism, he founded the Stop The Violence movement in 1988 after the murder of his friend, DJ Scott LaRock, who was also a founding member of Boogie Down Productions. He is best known for the singles “My Philosophy,” “You Must Learn,” and “South Bronx.”
Big Daddy Kane: One of the most celebrated and influential MCs in hip-hop history, Big Daddy Kane rose to prominence in the late ’80s with a string of solo records that managed to make him a household name among hip-hop fans. Originally a member of the legendary Queens-based group The Juice Crew, Kane took on a ladies man persona, which he doubled down on in his lyrics. Ranked No. 7 on MTV’s list of “The Greatest MCs of All Time,” his technique and rhyming skills made him one of the most-feared battle MCs of his time. Fans can look forward to grooving to tracks such as “Ain’t No Half Steppin’” and “Smooth Operator” when he takes the stage at Boardwalk Hall.
Slick Rick: Perhaps the only British-born rapper to come out of the Golden Age of Hip-Hop, Slick Rick was originally part of The Get Fresh Crew, which also contained Doug E. Fresh. Slick Rick was only the third artist to be signed to DefJam Records back when he scored a deal in 1986. He went on to put out four albums, several of which were released while he was incarcerated for the attempted murder of his cousin and former bodyguard Mark Plummer. Slick Rick’s storytelling style was unique and earned him much respect for introducing the concept of narrative to hip-hop. His best known songs are “La Di Da Di,” (with Doug E. Fresh and The Get Fresh Crew) and “Children’s Story.”
Doug E. Fresh: Known as “The Human Beat Box,” Doug E. Fresh is considered a true pioneer within the world of beatboxing. Born in Barbados but raised in Harlem, his ability to recreate the sounds of various drum machines and special effects is truly unparalleled, and his influence over hip-hop throughout the years is undeniable. Fans can expect to hear “The Show” and “Cut That Zero.”