by Calvin Cox
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Salt-N-Papa's groundbreaking debut, Hot, Cool and Vicious - and the ladies seem to be finding their second wind. Building on the success of 2010's Fresh Fest tour, the assiduous femcees headlined another all-star roster featuring several acts from Hip Hop's golden era. For those who attended last year's event, most of the concert hadn't changed a great deal. There were, however, a couple of key lineup changes (namely, the tour added Kool Moe Dee and MC Lyte), so old-school aficionados still had reason to dust off their flyest '80s gear and watch the show.
View a slideshow of photos from Salt-n-Pepa and the Legends of Hip-Hop Tour at the Chaifetz Arena
Kool Moe Dee quickly warmed the crowd up with a lot of classic call-and-respond chants. (The roof is on fire!). He was joined on stage by three dancers, and one of his crewmates from the Treacherous Three. It was refreshing to see them throw in a little choreography during the performance; you don't see that very often in rap. Moe Dee paid his respects to acts such as Afrika Bambaataa and former rival LL Cool J during his short set, which included "Feel the Heartbeat," "How Ya Like Me Now" and "Wild Wild West."
Kurtis Blow took the stage shortly after to perform his biggest records "If I Ruled the World" and "The Breaks." Toward the end of his time, he invited several people up from the crowd for a little breakdancing contest; Kurtis went last, and showed off his skills with a few headstands. The rap icon (now an ordained minister) took time to give glory to God after his set, and played host for the remainder of the show.
Every time I see Biz Markie perform, I can't help but wish he'd sing his cover of "Benny and the Jets, but it hasn't happened yet. The "clown prince of rap" played a set that was practically identical to last year's, save from the fact that he didn't even bother to rap the verses for "Just a Friend" this time around - he just sang the hook a few times with the audience. While that was a little disappointing, it was still fun to hear "Vapors" and "Make the Music with Your Mouth, Biz."
The youngest performer of the night was female rapper MC Lyte. The Brooklynite opened with her hit "Cha Cha Cha," before playing "Top Billin'" by Audio Two (Lyte's two older brothers). Highlights from her set included "Georgie Porgie," "Lyte as a Rock" and "Self-Destruction," for which she picked a fan to perform with her.
"The Original Human Beatbox" Doug E. Fresh does an entertaining set that pays homage to vintage music and classic TV tunes, but it's basically the same set that he'd performed on his last two visits to St. Louis. It's great the first time around, but he should consider mixing it up for variety's sake. On the upside, songs like "The Show" and "La Di Da Di" never get old, and for the finale he spit an original verse over "Teach Me How to Dougie," complete with some new moves.
Last but not least, Salt-N-Pepa finished out the evening with a retrospective of their hits from the '80s and '90s. Spinderella couldn't make it this time (due to her radio gig in Dallas), but Salt and Pep were able to get the crowd moving regardless. The duo looks to have re-entered their comfort zone, and the good-girl/wild-child dichotomy played well to the audience. All of their biggest songs were performed with the exception of "Let's Talk About Sex."
"Whatta Man," "Get Up," "Shoop" and "Push it" were crowd favorites, and Salt brought her husband of 20 years to the stage for "Shoop." Salt left the audience with a few words about "forgiveness" before ending with the gospel collaboration "Stomp."