DEL THA FUNKY HOMOSAPIEN with HAIKU D'ETAT , ZION I and BUKUE ONE as part of the CALI COMM 2004 TOUR at the Phoenix, November 6. Tickets: $26.50. Attendance: 500. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
The hiphop serum got percolating bright and early last Saturday at the Phoenix , where Steven Kingish clown paintings and old-timey freakshow ads hung from walls, and an ESPN Video Games banner was draped behind unassertive master of ceremonies Bukue One , who did little to warm up the modest crowd. Bukue's beats were hot, but his stage presence was not: Mr. One stood mostly in the same place and kicked his rhymes without much distinction. The lacklustre performance was forgivable only because he was obviously still finding himself onstage, stuck with the "practice slot" on the bill.
Zion I obviously found themselves years ago. The trio of Zion , Deuce Eclipse and Amp Live , who managed the percussion with metronome-tight rhythm on a sampler and drum machine, was a veritable phenomenon. Spinning, kneeling and dashing on and offstage, the Oakland group also kicked numerous freestyles over their industrial electro-style beats that were sharper than a pair of Ginsu ice skates.
After copping third-act Haiku d'Etat 's hot-to-death new album the night before, my expectations were most high for the union of Aceyalone , Abstract Rude and Mikah 9 . Smooth-voiced, dread-headed Ab Rude came out alone to a crowd of hundreds to drop his Swollen Members collab, a couple of lesser-known bangers from the P.A.I.N.T. album and his masterpiece, Stop Biting (which had everyone yelling back the hook's punchline, "Mike Tyson!").
After someone whispered in Ab's ear, he interrupted an ad lib about loving hiphop with, "I've been told I have a visitor," at which point the black-toque'd Aceyalone burst through the curtains to rock some new joints from the album. Too bad they were lost on a crowd unfamiliar with their most recent catalogue. And where was Mikah 9?
At the three-hour mark, Del showed up so high he couldn't open his eyes and did some old-school numbers, that Gorillaz song and nothing from Deltron 3030.
While it was a dope live show in more ways than one, I've come to realize that the Byzantine flows and conscious, clever lyrics that set the Cali Comm kids apart are still best absorbed on wax.