The Harlem community was given a special treat on a recent Tuesday evening by the man who is generally regarded as the greatest MC of all times. Rakim Allah’s no-charge performance at Harlem’s historic Marcus Garvey Park, as part of the SummerStage series, was a two-hour old-school session that celebrated the God MC’s return to Mecca (Harlem).
Harlem’s own DJ Ted Smooth got the show started at the park’s amphitheater around 7 p.m., taking the audience down memory lane as legendary DJ Hollywood spun several throwback classics while the audience performed dances from yesteryear, such as the Peewee Herman, the Slide and the Wop.
By the time Ra hit the stage an hour later, the audience was already worked up and went straight into his set as he kicked verses from many of his classic tracks, including “Don’t Sweat the Technique,” “Microphone Fiend,” “Guess Who’s Back” and “It’s Been a Long Time,” just to name a few.
Often times Rakim fell back and allowed the audience to chime in with his lyrics in unison as the beat rode on. He recited verses from his recordings “Mahogany” and “I Wanna Know What’s On Your Mind” as he paid homage to the ladies in attendance.
“Rakim Allah is a great inspiration to the 5 Percent Nation of Gods and Earths,” stated Earthly Jewels, a female Five Percenter from Mecca who greeted “the R” backstage after the show. “I have traveled all over to be by his side. He really loves me as his sister and a big fan.”
Ra also rocked some harder tracks for the fellas, such as “Juice,” “I Ain’t No Joke” and “Follow the Leader.”
He also shouted out the Gods and Earths, who were present prior to reciting the rhymes to a few records where he pays homage to the Five Percenters, namely “Move the Crowd” and “My Melody.”
Two of his first three cuts drew the greatest responses as he performed “Eric B Is President” and “I Know You Got Soul.”
“He’s still the best to ever do it … nobody else is even close,” stated Knowledge Born from Mecca.
This free concert opens the SummerStage series for its 30th anniversary season uptown in Harlem. The weekly shows will continue for the rest of the summer.
For more information, visit www.cityparksfoundation.org/events/category/summerstage.