In Da Club: Rhymesayers at First Avenue

Daniel Corrigan

"What the fuck is going on here tonight?" yelled Brother Ali from the stage of First Avenue on Friday, about an hour into the Rhymesayers' Ten-Year Anniversary concert. He was speaking for the audience. Who could have guessed that the Minneapolis hip-hop collective would celebrate with a continuous four-hour, Vegas-style variety show? Label veterans Musab, Slug, and I Self Devine traded cordless mics (for one song each) before ceding the spotlight to rookies P.O.S. and Psalm One, the token female ("Where my people who are getting their periods?"). Aztec dancers preceded Los Nativos; a "motivational speaker" introduced Mr. Dibbs; audience indifference greeted masked surprise guest MF Doom (more proof of his genius). Total darkness ended a screamed song by Eyedea and Abilities. Even longtime Rhymesayers producer Ant stepped behind the turntables for a rare set (with Slug and Murs), before a new band backed Slug, and everyone came onstage to join in. As Ali put it, "Don't let anyone tell you Rhymesayers is one thing."

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