[phlipcam video] Reks album release party @ the Middle East

Last Wednesday marked the 14th anniversary of the passing of Christopher Wallace. You may have come to this realization through the litany of Biggie quotables and youtube vids filling your news feed, or maybe a token memoriam post from your go-to music blog, even if they don't touch hip-hop on the other 364 days of the year. But while much of the public outpouring was limited to that day (as is the case every year), the stacked lineup of artists performing the REKS album release party at the Middle East kept the love for Big Poppa going until Saturday (as is the case for any show that that core outfit of rappers performs, regardless of the time of year). Of the eight or so acts I caught leading up to the night's headliner, every single one of them paid reverence to a dearly departed member of the rap game -- whether it was a moment of silence, a hands in the air, or a call to make some noise for Biggie, Guru, Pun, Pac, Big L, or Dilla.

Normally, this amount of unabashed name-dropping would call for some eye rolling, but it worked on this night, if for no other reason than the brand of hip-hop being slung by Statik Selektah and Co. is constructed using the same blueprint that was authored by these hard-nosed fallen legends years ago. Whether this makes them less relevant in the current hip-hop landscape, or whether Reks' reluctance to get in line with popular trends of the genre is the reason he probably won't break 5k in first week sales, none of it could've mattered less on Saturday.

If for some ungodly reason I was in attendance at a Drake or Rick Ross (or other interchangeable chart topping rapper's) show and they started shouting out Big L or Guru, I'd dutifully grab my belongings and head for the exit. But when Termanology spits, you can tell that he's spent his entire career dissecting Pun's dexterous flow. Or when Slaine lays into the mic, it hearkens back to an era where Big warned Lucifer to move over. They shout out these dudes because they aspire to hone their skill sets seemingly with the sole intention of someday earning mention alongside these greats.

As for the show, it was as solid as you'd expect from such a robust lineup. Moe Pope and Singapore Kane held down the earlier portion of the bill. Slaine had his whereabouts announced throughout the evening leading up to the proclamation that he was in the building, a worthy declaration due to his blink-and-you-might-miss-it, breakneck set. Term caused me to kick myself once again for missing last year's 1982 release show. Truly one of (if not) the most animated live rappers going. And surprisingly it was Reks that delivered on the most subdued performance of the evening, energy wise. Spending a good chunk of his set seated, he appeared truly humbled by the outpouring of support garnered from a near packed Middle East basement and a cast of co-conspirators made up of some of the best that this city has to offer -- a strong indicator that he is well on his way toward achieving that aforementioned pantheon of peer respect.

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