MC Melina Jones served as Slick Rick The Ruler’s Bay Area ambassador, and along with DJs Supreme and Pos Red, had the dance party popping off for a couple hours before Rick hit the stage well after midnight. The crowd, which was thick with golden era hip-hop heads, ate up the classic rap tracks being blasted, and got particularly juiced when Bay Area artists like Digital Underground and Too Short were thrown in the mix. DJ Pos Red even invited an enthusiastic member of the audience onto the stage to beat-box while he executed a squeaky-clean freestyle rap. Needless to say the openers got the party started right.
Slick Rick embodies the early years of hip-hop when the MC controlled the party. His prevalent use of call and response not only got the audience involved, but also kept the party from ever simmering too low; the crowd at Public Works was happy to oblige. The sing along that took place did not require a bouncing ball to follow along, as these fans have been listening to most of Rick’s songs for decades and know them nearly as well as the Ruler himself. The set consisted of primarily classic tracks from Slick Rick’s landmark debut album The Great Adventures of Slick Rick (1988) including “Mona Lisa,” “Hey Young World” and “The Moment I Feared.” He also drew from his larger repertoire playing tracks like “It’s a Boy” from 1991’s The Ruler’s Back and “Street Talkin’” from 1999’s The Art of Storytelling. Of course the set would have been incomplete without Slick Rick’s first tracks “La-Di-Da-Di” and “The Show” with Doug E. Fresh, from 1985 when he was still going by M.C. Ricky D.
Slick Rick may be the Ruler, but he’s not a dictator. He showed his democratic sensibilities by inviting the audience to choose between the best of the new school, and of the old school. This impromptu election pitted Iggy Azalea’s track “Fancy” against the House of Pain’s classic party banger “Jump Around.” “Fancy” is undeniably catchy, so when the DJ spun it some of the crowd could not help but move, but ultimately it was shut down by boos and jeers. There were no mixed feelings when it came to the old school track, the whole crowd was jumping and belting out the familiar lyrics. While the crowd was polarized by Iggy, there was no doubt about their unanimous love of the old school.
For his final track of the night Slick Rick took off his dark Ray Bans and put on his iconic eye patch. To complete the costume change he brought his wife on stage to adorn him with an impressive collection of gold chains, which, when added to his already excessive assortment of diamond necklaces, created a monumentally gaudy look only Ricky D himself could pull off. He then told the crowd “Children’s Story,” and many of us checked one huge box off our hip-hop bucket list.
Public Works had you covered if old school hip-hop isn’t your thing, because in the Loft they were hosting another party featuring the DJ duo Wolf & Lamb. The crowd was younger and from a decidedly different walk of life, but the floor was just as packed with people having a good time. The rhythms these fellas were delivering never let up, and the dancers showed no signs of fatigue when I split around 2 in the morning.
Photos by Nate Chavez