Kevvy Kev 'The Drum' 20th Anniversary Party

Sunday August 8th, San Francisco celebrated 20 years of Kevvy Kev's "The Drum" radio show on KZSU Stanford with a free outdoor hip hop concert. Initially scheduled for Golden Gate Park's Kezar Stadium, which decades ago hosted a Led Zeppelin concert right there where the Haight Ashbury district stops at the park, the event was moved across the park to a secluded meadow adjacent to the roller disco zone along Fulton Avenue, not far from the old Jefferson Airplane mansion. You'll have to excuse all the hippie dippy references, but one couldn't help notice the peaceful vibe of the event, from the audience sitting on the hill to the anti-war messages coming off the stage between songs. Apparently operating without permits- Kevvy Kev got on the mic and joked about getting arrested at one point- a diverse crowd, about the same scale as the Sunset Party's outdoor raves in the Bay Area, gathered to enjoy an enthusiastic lineup of brief, scaled back performances. Not too many years ago, conventional wisdom would have been opposed to an outdoor hip hop show for fears of gang violence; a lot of things have changed over the years, as Kevvy Kev himself would admit. Shit, this beautiful young crowd of people, encompassing a wide range of styles and races, dutifully cleaned up their trash, with hardly a flyer or empty bottle left behind.

Marred by the last minute change of venue and a woefully fried sound system- the long-running roller disco over the next hill had more effective sound from their glorified boom box on wheels contraption- crowds were late to assemble for a rich lineup. Kevvy Kev has a long list of friends; cats like Paris are giving him big shoutouts these days, NY's Definitive Jux label was a sponsor and a bunch of Bay Area hip-hop scenesters such as Z-Man absorbed the show from the crowd; Crown City Rockers crew were flyering. A long list of performers graced the stage. Kevvy Kev himself manned the decks for long stretches of time, smiling uncontrollably and nodding on in approval as he got to jam with one MC after another. You know the music's good when someone old school like Kev can't help but smile; he was clearly having a blast. The setup was simple: two turntables, a microphone, a small stage, a small PA. Local 'Best of the Bay 2004' hip hop group Felonious got the crowd going mid-afternoon with an acapella set, with MC Carlos Aguirre dishing out some of the most amazing human beatboxing I've ever witnessed. Hieroglyphic's Tajai- who went to Stanford- delivered a very impressive and passionate one man set, speaking from his heart, interacting with the crowd, coming on a bit later than his 4:20 pm time slot.

Rza from Wu-Tang closed out the show in true headliner style. He took the stage and immediately called for some weed, and he was handed a nice fatty, which he smoked with deliberate aplomb before beginning a quick set that had the crowd yelling rhymes along with him. Rza couldn't help but joke about the realness of the situation- he's a huge star after all- pointing out that there were no lights, only two speakers and 'this,' whereby he shakes the mic and stares bug eyed at the cable snaking down away from him; Rza's not used to performing without cordless mics these days. It took some moments before Rza could get his bearings, especially with the badly overdriven and underpowered sound system on its very last gasps of use at the end of a long summer day. In no time, Rza has the crowd going- hands up in the air style- as he jumps all over the small stage, mad eyes blazing, full voice roaring. Between songs he lets everyone in on a secret: back in the day he used to fly out to San Francisco to buy records to sample for what are now classic Wu Tang albums; he cites Bay Area record stores by name, some of which are now long gone. He constantly has the crowd flashing peace signs in the air at his instruction, and closes out the afternoon by getting all assembled to- at his command- yell the word "PEACE."

After the crowd left, an old hippy, looking like a classic Vietnam vet, staggered around and drunkenly surveyed the scene. One had to wonder how many times before he'd seen well behaved flocks of young people sitting in the park, listening to world class entertainment on a small, clandestine stage, calling for an end to the war between songs and shouting "PEACE."

Terbo Ted

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