I saw KRS-One on Friday night. He wasn’t really on his game for the first half of the set, and covered by saying that he was soundchecking. Soundchecking in most circles means you’re supposed to show up to the club at 5pm to check levels. (Soundchecking in hip-hop means you show up to the club 30 seconds before you hit the stage and then get on the mic to complain that the levels are all wrong.)
So KRS-One kept switching mics, but he also kept switching songs—drop the beat, verse and a chorus, cut to the next track. Skittish. “My Philosophy,” “Sound of Da Police,” “Criminal Minded” and more got lopped short while KRS ran the usual berating-the-crowd-for-not-knowing-the-classics. Sigh. He still couldn’t find a mic he liked, nor did he ever finish an entire song.
But the show went from averagely average to awesomely awesome in one quick moment. KRS found a mic he liked, cried, “oh, that’s the one!” and hopped off the stage into the crowd of people. I thought he might stay there for half a song or so, but instead he cleared a huge circle for various breakdancers and kept rapping. The song ended; he kept rapping. Another beat dropped; he kept rapping.
For a half hour out on the floor—much to the confusion of the club’s security team—KRS-One brought the place to life. What’s more, he brought the spirit of his Bronx upbringing, and thus the spirit of hip-hop’s upbringing, to a little club in Santa Rosa. He’s been on “tour” forever, but he calls it a mission, and left a few converts in his wake on Friday, for sure.