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GZA, DJ Premier Rock With Newcomers at CMJ 2010

Roger Kisby, Getty Images

Last night, hip-hop returned to New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge for another spin at the CMJ 2010 Music Marathon. The showcase, headlined by the GZA and DJ Premier, was put on by iHipHop Distribution and Frank151. Other acts included frequent Curren$y collaborator Trademark Da Skydiver, Tabi Bonney, rap rockers Rocky Business and three Los Angeles-based MCs: Marz Lovejoy, LaVish and Polyester.

Before GZA and Premo took to the stage, Trademark and Tabi Bonney did a good job of keeping the crowd pumped up with some Damon Dash-approved stoner jams. The former Roc-A-Fella leader milled about in the crowd, subtly nodding his head to both artists’ bouncy yet languid beats.

While enjoyable, DJ Premier pretty much erased the beginning part of the night the very second his microphone was turned on. “Do you love hip-hop?” he asked the crowd. Not satisfied with the response, he explained that you have to respect something before you can really love it and then launched into an ultra-hype DJ set that featured genre classics and lots of crowd participation. Things swelled into a full-on tribute to Guru and the crowd mouthed along with classic Gang Starr tracks well after midnight.

Up next was GZA, who proved once again that the Wu operate on their own time schedule. Before his set began, Papa Wu lectured the crowd on the group’s history, shouted out Ol’ Dirty Bastard at least 20 times and then gave way to a surprise guest performance from Raekwon. Rae ripped through ‘C.R.E.A.M’ before GZA finally hit the stage 3:30AM to perform cuts from ‘Liquid Swords’ and more recent albums like ‘Pro Tools.’ His flow, still forceful and complex, is nearing extinction and should be appreciated while it’s still around.

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