By Khalid Salaam

We all love sports, believe that. But with the summer doldrums at maximum effect, the SLAM crew has to find other ways of occupying our time. Good for us then that the excellent people at Microsoft and Edelman PR (I want to thank Yasmeen Coning and Sara Bell especially. They were awesome and very, very helpful) invited us to a concert on Saturday.

The shows official title was “Zune: Live At the BBQ. The daylong show was held to increase the buzz of Microsoft’s MP3 music player, the Zune. A smart move seeing that the market for digital music players is gaining momentum everyday and with the scene as competitive as it, everyone needs an angle. It was held at Empire Ferry State park in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn and with water serving as the backdrop to the stage as soon as I got there I could tell that things were well thought out. Plus I had high expectations anyway, I mean Microsoft’s involved after all. There could have been a gladiator pit with tigers and armored elephants duking it out. They can afford it, so what the hell, you never know. So obviously there were no animals there otherwise you would see pictures and i would have a souvenir but it was still well done. They had a basketball tourney going on and other activities (and no I didn’t play ball. I wasn’t trying to get musty) but I came for the music. The line-up was nuts plus they invited surprise guests so I came amped up. When I got there I texted Slam Editorial Assistant Konate Primus who had gotten there early. Special Ed was on stage doing “I Got It Made” when I first walked in so I missed him but I wasn’t too hurt about that. I like his songs but I’m saying, he only has three hits so whatever. Konate told me I had just missed the Boot Camp Clik and that Smif and Wessun did “Sound Bwoy Buriel”. Damn, can’t believe I missed that.

I kept it moving though and grabbed a fruit salad and a bottle of water and waited for the next act. There was a good mix of industry and non-industry people there so I talked to a few people, politicked with a couple of others and went to the front of the stage when the Clipse came on. I had never seen them live before so I was excited. They ran through several of their hits including “Whatever Happened To That Boy”, “Chinese New Year” and “Grindin’”. It was popping though and they had the crowd’s attention. I went back to the media/VIPs section and met up with XXL Lifestyle Editor Branden Peters and a couple of his peoples and we were just relaxing and having fun. Microsoft and Edelman know how to throw a damn good party and I was taking it all in. But when the LOX came on I ended my networking and jumped into party mode. Shiek, Kiss and Styles P (plus like half of Yonkers) came on stage and killed it. For a good 35, 40 minutes they went through hit after hit after hit. They did “Money, Power and Respect”, they did “Why”, they did “I Get High”, “Wild Out”, “By Your Side”, etc. Plus they did remix verses and mixtapes songs too. They had amazing energy and stage presence and all jokes aside they easily had the best performance of the whole day. After they performed Large Professor came on and did some Main Source cuts but the youngun’s wasn’t really recognizing the songs so the energy level plummeted for a sec.

Then Brand Nubian came on rocked it. Puba looks about 60 years old but he can still rap his ass off. Breath control, timing, enunciation, the whole thing. Sadat was there too but Lord Jammar missed his flight and that hurt the chemistry. Puba even mentioned when they did “One For All” and mumbling something about them needing that “third rail” to really get it going. Their performance was still hot regardless. Doing “Punks Jump Up”, “Slow Down”. “360” and a couple of other choice cuts. Everyone was just chilling after that, word had circled around earlier that LL Cool J was gonna close so we all waited. We figured there was a chance that he could do all girls songs (his name is ladies love after all) and since I came without a female escort I wasn’t really in the mood for all of that but I decided I’d stay anyway. He took a minute and his light show was really over the top plus the volume was turned up to 1000 so it got so loud that I couldn’t really hold a conversation. He hid “Jingling baby”, “Bad” and “Mama Said” so I was good. Plus he did “Doin It” and all the ladies started going crazy so he invited them onstage when he did “Headsprung”. It was funny at that point but I couldn’t complain at all. I left after that but I had a great time and everyone was already asking if Microsoft/Edelman were gonna do this again next summer. If so I’m there.