The Stage Miami
Friday, December 7
Better Than: Getting Paid in Increments.
It had been a long time since Rakim rolled through our hood prior to last night's performance at The Stage.
But when the God Emcee actually hit the stage shortly after 1 a.m. following opening sets by local crews Problem Kids and ArtOfficial, thick clouds of marijuana smoke and a crushing wave of nostalgia made it easy to forget just how long it had been.
Backed by two-thirds of ArtOfficial and their homie, guitarist Aaron Lebos, Rakim ripped through a 15-song set that transported OG hip-hop heads back to rap's New York City roots.
"I know I ain't been in Miami in a while, so I feel that this song right here is appropriate," Rakim told the crowd before breaking into his third track of the night, "It's Been a Long Time."
"The guy's a living legend, man," ArtOfficial bass dude Ralfy Valencia told New Times after the set. "I'm feeling pretty good."
After meeting Rakim a day earlier to "talk about the tunes," the group spent two-and-a-half hours before the show running through the rapper's material. Rakim, however, didn't make the rehearsal.
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"He had interviews to do and ended up showing up after the rehearsal was over," Valencia says. "But he was super fucking cool, man. Very down to earth guy. He had a lot of trust in us, he'd never heard us play. And everything turned out pretty great."
Indeed it did.