Slick Rick The Ruler, known to his mum and them as Ricky Martin Lloyd Walters, and Doug E. Fresh performed a fitting serenade as the iconic B.B. King Blues Club closed its Times Square doors after 18 years of jazz, R&B, soul, reggae, blues and African beats.
Dining and dancing was the good look at the spot. Who didn’t show up there? B.B. King, Aretha Franklin JAY-Z, James Brown, Chuck Berry, Alpha Blondy, Maze, Eddie Palmieri, El Gran Combo, E Jeffrey Osbourne, Dwele, Mint Condition, Jane Eugene and Loose Ends, Eric Benet—they all did. The final shows Saturday and Sunday were George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic and Buddy Guy.
“We made history last night,” Rick wrote on his Facebook page. “Thank you B.B. King Blues Club & Grill for giving black entertainment a platform. You will be missed! #ClosingWeekCelebration #GoldenEra”
Nostalgia and appreciation wrapped in pure happiness the joyous collective that made up the April 25, 2018, audience at the last hip-hop show at the B.B. King Times Square location (other namesake clubs exist in Memphis, Nashville and other cities).
The two old school hip-hop legends moved an enthusiastic sing along crowd just after Mr. Cee took folk back to the ’80s and ’90s with joints when hip-hop was true and real they said. When he slipped up—probably accidentally on purpose—and played a Drake track, the formerly heaving crowd just stood there until he regained his senses.
Banger tunes had old heads rocking, swinging their gold rope changes and sweating in their Kangols, while the ladies secured their bamboo earrings as they back-in-the-day-danced with moves their children could only dream about!
Fresh and his Get Fresh Crew brought out surprise guests—I mean folk who just turned up, such as Mr. Cheeks, Havoc, Joeski, Lil’ Vicious, Wreckx-N-Effect and Peter Gunz.
Doug E. Fresh the “World’s Greatest Entertainer”—who many of the definitely over-40-close-or-passed-50 crowd might have already seen a bizzillion times—still impressed with his human beatboxing, his rhyming skills, his totally engrossing audience participation and his earnest plea for unity in the community across the board. He spoke lovingly and honestly of what is referred to as the “Golden Age of Hip- Hop.”
He said, “We are going to share the greatness with the people who made us great,” giving props to the like of the Cold Crush Brothers. He lavished much praise on hip-hop’s greatest storyteller Slick Rick, the Grammy-nominated, English-born performer and the most successful British-American rapper.
Collaborating with the likes of JAY-Z, Missy Elliot, Outkast, Jermaine Dupri, Yasin Bey and Common, Rick is known to be the most sampled—600-plus times—hip-hop artist ever.
As the people sang every lyric to every song he blasted through the speakers, he dipped into his albums “The Ruler’s Back,” “Behind Bars” and “The Art of Storytelling.” Fresh and Rick blessed the crowd with old school gems such as “La Di Da Di,” “The Show,” “I-ight, “Freaks” and of course “Children’s Story.”
The man who brought us “Street Talkin,” “Mona Lisa,” “Hey Young World” and “The Ruler’s Back” brought his trademark London/New York slanguage to the stage bigly!
Of course it would not be a Fresh performance without the man himself teaching everyone how to do his unique and distinctive dance, “The Dougie”— no Wolf Blitzer in sight though.
And most appropriately Doug E. Fresh got the “grown folks” smoothing out as they left the stage with Lenny Williams “Cause I Love You” and the Staple Singers “Let’s Do It Again.”
Class act. And thank you, B.B. King.