Hip-Hop 101: Ludacris and Common School L.A. With Stellar Show [Exclusive Coverage]
Los Angeles got taken to school on Saturday night when the Hip-Hop 101 Music and Arts Festival set up class in the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Put on in celebration of Black History Month, the event attempted to unify hip-hop’s diverse array of artistic expressions under one roof. In addition to the all-star roster of musical guests including Ludacris, Common, and Janelle Monae, the event also featured break dancing b-boys and b-girls, a visual symphony and no shortage of scratching from the nation’s premier DJs.
After a red carpet event filled with the usual plethora of flashing lights and sharply dressed stars, the perpetually bouffanted Janelle Monae lead the night’s festivities off with a performance whose energy can only be described as hurricane-esque. Monae, who for the record is five-feet tall at best, put on an oversize performance that included hits from her Metropolis Chase Suite, open water bottles hurled at the crowd and a vault over the barricades that lead to a full on dance party in the crowd. It’s safe to say that no one who saw Monae’s performance will forget it any time soon.
Next to grace the stage was Chicago legend Common. Dressed in the unlikely combination of a tuxedo shirt, bowtie, jeans and puffy winter jacket, Common’s mastery of the live show was on full display as he effortlessly switched from new material off his electronically oriented new album Universal Mind Control to his previous hits and unexpected covers. Whatever training regiment Common’s on obviously works, because despite literally sprinting from one side of the stage to the other, he didn’t miss one syllable of his carefully crafted rhymes. The man’s been rocking stages for over a decade, and it shows.
To watch Ludacris live is to realize just how many hits the man has. Hell, he could have put on an entire concert of nothing but his guest verses, and he proved it by getting the crowd on its feet with his contributions to smashes like Dey Know and Yeah. Still, it was Luda’s solo performances that the crowd came to see and he didn’t disappoint, eliciting a near riot with his performance of his first major hit What’s Your Fantasy. As Luda’s last notes melted into the L.A. night air, the crowd left happy having learned one important lesson: despite claims to the contrary, hip-hop is very much alive, thanks in no small part to events like Hip-Hop 101.