The Old Rock House played host to another Scion Metro Series concert, this time bringing with them New York natives Dres the Black Sheep, Greg Nice and Smooth B. Thankfully, entry into the venue was hassle- free this time around; no stagnant line to wait in and no overcrowding situation at the bar. I secured myself a center spot on the balcony as the show began at around 9:45 p.m.
The DJ, J. Period, didn’t scratch (which surprised me) but he did a nice job getting the crowd fired up with the assistance of D.R.E.S. tha Beatnik (not to be confused with Dres the Black Sheep). D.R.E.S. played Master of Ceremonies for the evening, providing crowd chants and a pretty decent human beatbox. The backing band for the event was Orgone, a funk group out of Hollywood, California. Orgone played an original instrumental set while a couple of b-boys lit up the dance floor. The band was soon joined by their lead vocalist Fanny Franklin, whose smoky voice blended nicely with the band on the bluesy track “Ain’t No Use.”
After Fanny’s set, Nice & Smooth took the stage for the first time ever in St. Louis. Not wanting to be outdone, the charismatic Greg Nice beatboxed a couple of recognizable joints like Busta Rhymes’ “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes can See” that got the crowd going. The duo kept it old- school, performing their hits from the early ‘90s (“Sometimes I Rhyme Slow,” “Hip- Hop Junkies,” “Funky for You”) while shouting chants like “If you got two dollars in your pocket make some noise!” Just when it looked like Nice & Smooth were ready to exit the stage, they went into the classic “Dwyck” (sans Guru), which the crowd was no doubt waiting to hear.
The clean-up spot was handled by Dres the Black Sheep, as Mista Lawnge is reportedly no longer in the group. Dres performed a mix of older Black Sheep tracks as well as his more recent work off the 2006 release 8WM/Novakane. Dres’ lyrics are intelligent and thoughtful, and his delivery and timing are as precise as ever. The crowd was able to vibe with the newer material, but they really responded to the classics (“Flavor of the Month,” “Similak Child”). The entire place went crazy as Dres closed out his set with “The Choice is Yours,” but I couldn’t help but think how great it would have been for his little brother Chi Ali to come out and do “Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number” for a finale.
One other point worth mentioning: Rather than making a speedy exit after the show, Greg Nice could be found out on the patio mingling with the crowd and signing autographs. He’s as personable and down-to-earth as you could imagine.
-- Calvin Cox