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Pop Music Review

Eminem, DJ Quik Give Powerhouse Rap Concert an Energy Boost


It was hard to imagine what could have topped DJ Quik's near-heroic performance at Saturday's five-hour Powerhouse Back to School hip-hop show at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim.

The Compton rapper, after all, reportedly had been in a motorcycle accident earlier in the day that forced him to miss his scheduled performance slot midway through the evening.

Yet Quik hobbled on stage around midnight and delivered a remarkably physical display of his dazzling, machine-gun-like rapping, even ripping off part of a leg brace and turning the already-hopping arena into an all-out dance party.

Imagining what could have bested Quik, however, was unnecessary.

The only performer on the nine-act show sponsored by radio station KPWR-FM (105.9) who hadn't performed before Quik showed up had exactly what it took to ratchet the excitement level even higher: Eminem.

The Detroit-based performer, born Marshall Mathers, unleashed his tauntingly raunchy yet skillfully multidimensional rapping--a virtual gauntlet defiantly thrown down before his hip-hop peers.

That he did so in a truncated, 25-minute set, chopped because the show was already running an hour late when he came on stage, was both impressive and frustrating.

Impressive because of his seven numbers, five were from his controversial album "The Marshall Mathers LP," which has sold more than 6 million copies since its May release. Frustrating because he did not include "Stan," the knockout cut about a tragic correspondence between an off-balance fan and Eminem's alter ego, Slim Shady.


Still, there was plenty of emotional wallop. As he repeated the title refrain of "I Am What I Say I Am" accompanied by the thousands who packed the Pond and chimed in with him, Eminem created a powerful chant on self-fulfilling prophecy--a generation's worst nightmare about its children going to seed come true.

But following "The Real Slim Shady," in which self-reference collides with a blatantly invented scenario, the show simply stopped. Eminem walked off stage and announcers, possibly curfew-conscious, tersely announced: "Please leave the premises now!"

Still, the strength of those back-to-back sets by Eminem and Quik brought a welcome injection of energy into a long evening that ran in fits and starts.

As was the case at last year's Powerhouse show, surprise appearances usually pumped the energy level up.

Xzibit joined Eminem, Suga Free turned up with Quik, and Shade Sheist made a virtual cameo appearance, accompanied by Kurupt and the show's opening act, TQ (replacing an anticipated appearance in that number by no-show Nate Dogg). Rapper Posdnuos and DJ Maseo from De La Soul got help from Liquid Crew and Tha Alkaholiks in a solid but unexceptional set. Jay-Z's entrance near the end of Ja Rule's short set also was accompanied by the kind of shrieks that demonstrated his crowd-favorite status.

Cypress Hill's pot-promoting set was highlighted by the contributions of the sole live musician of the evening: percussionist Bobo (the son of Puerto Rican percussion master Willie Bobo).

Busta Rhymes turned in perhaps the most animated delivery of the evening, his eyes bugging or squinting and arms and legs flailing with his thunderous rapping, which incorporates such non-rap influences as Axl Rose, Little Richard and Screamin' Jay Hawkins.

Sets were separated by breaks of five to 30 minutes, while the interim entertainment ran from the blatantly commercial (not one but two appearances by a dance troupe plugging one of the concert's sponsors) to humdrum-to-invigorating DJ displays by several KPWR spinners and their guests.

The most refreshing aspect of this show was the sense of community replacing any sense of rivalry between West Coast and East Coast crews. Further buoying fans' reason to bask in the show's afterglow was the report from Anaheim police that the evening was incident-free.

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