France has a big tradition of hip-hop to be proud of. It’s one that should be highlighted more throughout Europe and elsewhere. America, well…it’s obvious we do. Last week, Paris saw multiple generations of top talent under the big top of Cabaret Sauvage, a gorgeous circus-tent venue. You had Big Daddy Kane coupled with Redman, all supported by F.Stokes. DJing at the beginning? Dee Nasty. Who? He produced the first hip-hop record in France. He’s also known as one of the first DJs to bring hip-hop within the Hexagon’s borders. It was clear as his opening DJ set was superb, the perfect balance of old school beats and songs that laid the groundwork for everything you hear today.
Madison, Wisconsin was well-represented. Man Mantis joined F.Stokes, adding a whole new level of energy you often see back in Madtown but rarely elsewhere. For those not versed in the area, hip-hop artists and electro/dubstep walk hand in hand in the capital city, often sharing time. So while one may be opening for Datsik one week, the next they’ll be working closely with hip-hop. Man Mantis brought the energy (see above), while F.Stokes tore through many songs, I’m guessing from his upcoming anticipated album teased with the Love, Always EP. “Beauty & The Beast” clearly was a highlight, which would only have been made better accompanied by a female vocalist. The keys-catchy song resonated, even with Stokes up there alone for the choruses. “Blessings”, a song that has snuck up into my favorites, followed in pursuit with a heavy, classic Lazerbeak beat. “My Simple” closed the evening, with F.Stokes leaving the stage behind him and heading right into the crowd to get people going. Evidence of how the crowd took to his energy, he sang much of the last song piggybacked on two crowd members, one clearly offering to pick up the slack when the first gave in. Superb. I miss Madison.
Big Daddy Kane came on, and immediately had the respect of all. Some around had never heard of him, as with concerts in general, but those people instantaneously knew they were in the presence of a legend. Dipping back to Biz Markie days with “Just Rhymin’ with Biz”, then even further when he egged on the crowd with his DJ. Sample, not early enough. Sample, not early enough. Sample, not early enough. All the way to “Sucker M.C.’s” then back further. The time warp concluded with “Ain’t No Half-Steppin'”, one of the many highlights as Paris shouted along word to word. Words understood? Didn’t matter by now.
Cabaret Sauvage erupted throughout Redman’s set, but when Redman hit the Cypress Hill sampled “Da Rockwilder,” the energy flew farther than the bottles of water sprayed over the ravenous crowd. “City Lights” came out early during the set, hands up as smoke drifted up, more than a fog machine, with more energy charging through the crowd than all the smartphones left and right. The homages to the past continued straight on into Redman’s set, paying it back to the West Coast with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Dre Day” just before “I’ll Bee Dat” and “Da Goodness.” People grew wild when towards the end, he teased the audience with calls that a new How High was in the works, as well as Blackout! 3 with Method Man. The man then gave the stage to Ready Roc, who was by his side the entire night, letting him unleash his latest “On My Grind” while Redman encouraged everyone to pay heed to Ready Roc’s shirt and check out the just released video. Right after though, it was clear who took the crown for the night in France as Redman wrapped up everything, propped up and rhyming with on the hands of all those who made it under the big top.