Rakim @ The Button FactoryTweet
I was quite miffed at my current predicament; having a spare FREE ticket to see one of the pioneers of Hip-Hop and being completely unable to shift it. Eventually I relented and arrived a lonely figure for Rakim at the Button Factory.
Once of the hip-hop double act Eric B. & Rakim (with Eric B providing the DJ skills), he is quite highly regarded as an instigator in the surge of popularity with Hip Hop in the 80’s, mentioned alongside names from Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash to Run DMC and Public Enemy. When reminiscing about Eric B. & Rakim one will always have images of break dancing and Graffiti-soaked original hip hop beats.
The most tantalizing aspect of this show was that Rakim would be performing his debut album (with Eric B) Paid In Full, boasting such hits as the title track itself, My Melody and I Know You Got Soul, cornerstones of Rap and impacting on the innovation of hip hop which continues to develop to this day.
Yes, I was a fan. Regardless of being on my tobler I was fully committed to rapping along to the lyrics Rakim planned to spit out. But my night did not start off in the greatest of fashions, as I had not been in the venue for more than 5 minutes when I accidentally punched a girl in the chest (ahem) while taking off my cardigan. Queue profuse apologizing and extreme embarrassment as the woman continued to wave the issue off as an accident, all the while clutching her injured area(s). Bad start. It was 8pm and I grabbed a beer in preparation for the coming support act.
Two cigarette breaks and two beers later DJ Mek emerged from back stage and began mixing some old school rap. For what it’s worth, he was scratch-tastic, but I had to wonder if this guy was a booked support act or just filler. He played solo for 30 minutes until 9:30 when the now jam packed crowd expected the man of the hour to emerge from the depths of the velvet curtain, ready to raise the proverbial roof. Instead, Irish famed MC Ri-Ra emerged for a support slot. To the guy’s credit, he was full of energy, not to mention talent, and did a fine job revving up the place in anticipation for Rakim. Even though I would be far from a fan myself, Ri-Ra does boast some respectable credentials, being considered one of the original Irish B-boys along with the other members of Scary Eire working with the likes of U2, James Lavelle and sports a fan base consisting of Sinead O’Connor, Damien Dempsey and Shane McGowan. Well in.
Ri-Ra only played for about 20 minutes or so, leading to more speculation that Rakim would grace the stage at the 10pm mark. As that benchmark came and went, with road crew aimlessly attempting to look busy on stage, murmurs began to circulate the crowd about Rakim’s whereabouts. My own patience was wearing thin, as I had not planned on staying in this venue all night and expected, based on the time the doors opened at, that the gig would be well and truly over by 11pm. The big rumor that reached me was that certain members of the crowd had witnessed these antics once before from Rakim a few months prior, with the star keeping his fans waiting for an approximate three hours. After contact with GP, a joint decision was made that if, by 10:30pm Rakim had not showed, I would walk. That is precisely what happened.
Thanks to my high quality research and investigatory skills I can give you a breakdown of what happened following my exit; The crowd were left waiting for a further forty minutes before Rakim finally graced the stage with his presence at around 11, playing three songs before a supposed technical fault (apparently a full power outtage) with the PA system deserved a hissy fit from the hip hop icon to the point of throwing the microphone and storming off stage (according to some tweets), waiting another ten or so minutes before returning to complete his set finishing with a acapella version of ‘Follow The Leader’.
Call me particular, call me spiteful, but I feel justified in my early exit. As much as I detest the antics of a certain Guns N Roses frontman last year, pardon me Rakim for being so blunt but Axel Rose YOU ARE NOT. There could be one hundred different reasons or excuses that could be given for his actions on Friday night, laying blame to technical issues, late arrival, timeslot discrepancies and more. You can also call me skeptical, but after hearing the rumors about his previous shows on the tour, there was only one reason I could settle on as the cause of such tardiness; Rakim was a Diva.
I am sure there will be many people telling me that after all the above problems the show was great, but as I consider myself a fan I felt totally let down by the lack of professionalism, which The Venue or Choice Cuts should not take full responsibility for. Rakim’s estimation in my eyes has plummeted, never to return.
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