There are a few things that I have come to expect when going to an old-school hip-hop concert. Lots and lots of weed, drunk gentrifiers unironically wearing throwback Kangols and Adidas tracksuits, and most importantly—no matter what time is posted on the ticket—the show starting almost two hours late.
These three experiences pretty much encapsulate seeing everybody from RZA and Busta Rhymes to Big Daddy Kane over the last few years and on Monday night, when I went to see Eric B. & Rakim at Irving Plaza in New York City. However, one thing happened that I totally didn’t expect. Somebody thought it would be a good idea to stick a political campaign speech right in between sets, and needless to say, it wasn’t all that well-received.
It was almost 10:40 p.m. and the crowd was getting restless. The Technique Tour was clearly not sweating the clock, since doors opened at 7, Yo-Yo’s opening act ended by 9, and here it was almost two hours later and the golden-age rap duo hadn’t shown up. Eric B. & Rakim finally took the stage right before 11 p.m.; they hit us with a rendition of “Don’t Sweat the Technique” and got us all hype with a few more obscure hits, and then ... Miranda from Sex and the City? Yes, after a couple of songs, it was announced that Cynthia Nixon, better known to most Americans as Miranda Hobbes from the hit HBO series, would be taking the stage.
[Insert record scratch, and not the good Rakim kind.]
“I know Eric B. is president,” she said with the overly measured cautious desperation of Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton, “but I’m here because I wanna be governor of New York state!”
Honestly, had she stopped right there, returned the mic to Eric B. and walked offstage, she’d have been good. Nice campaign stop, create some buzz, get on Page Six. Unfortunately she just. Kept. Talking.
Now, to be fair, Nixon is a long-shot candidate. As the only other declared Democrat running against incumbent Andrew Cuomo for governor of New York in 2018, she’s got to take some chances. I guess this is one of those chances. However ...
Who did Nixon hire to run her campaign and how quickly can she fire them? How are you going to send your candidate up onstage at the Technique Tour and her speech has no hip-hop references (“Under the Gov. Nixon tax plan, everybody’ll get PAID IN FULL!”) or even a Sex and the City reference (“You don’t have to be Samantha to know that corporate Democrats are screwing you!”)? Her delivery was so dry she could “Make ’em make ’em nap to this” if she kept going.
By the way, whoever in the Eric B. & Rakim camp that thought it’d be cool to disrupt a rap concert that was already 90 minutes late with a campaign plug from anybody not named Michelle Obama can kick rocks, too. I get it: Obviously, Eric B. supports Nixon’s campaign, but I desperately wanted the mic to magnetize itself out of her hands and back into his once she started talking about “big money” in government.
Nixon got a few cheers when she mentioned legalizing marijuana and ending mass incarceration, but there were boos, too, and most people were really just giving her church claps hoping that she’d stop her boring stump speech and Rakim would take back the mic.
If you’re going to invade a hip-hop concert for a campaign speech, you better bring some bars, some real New York flavor or both. She had neither. In the immortal words of “Black Jeopardy” champion T’Challa, “Aw, hello no, Cynthia, keep your bland-ass stump speeches to yourself!”