Puffs of breath steadily formed in front of my face while I stood line on a bitterly cold evening last Thursday, I was not alone. 50 people had eagerly braved the cold ahead of me, anxiously waiting for the doors of Highline Ballroom to open and begin the listening party for legendary hip-hop group, The Lox’s latest offering, Filthy America… It’s Beautiful. 5 minutes past the scheduled door time and we were still waiting, entertained only by the man lugging around huge duffel bags full of liquor, offering shots and homemade nutcrackers for purchase.
Finally inside 30 minutes later, I thawed out while waiting for the show to begin. Everyone immediately sparked their blunts to officially get the party started. A bottle of Hennessy with cups to match was passed to the crowd. DJ’s pumped the music up louder and louder, and even DJ Kid Capri found his way onstage to showcase his scratching skills. There wasn’t any trap music from anyone with “Lil” in their names, or any auto-tuned struggle note singing. This was a full night of celebration of classic hip-hop.
An early highlight of the night was watching Big Pun’s son, Chris Rivers, take the stage, step up to the plate and deliver skills his father would surely be proud of. Once The Lox took the stage, the night would continue in similar fashion. It was a complete showcase in lyricism and drive.
It has been 16 years since Sheek Louch, Styles P, and Jadakiss have released a full-length record, but the trio has wasted absolutely no time reestablishing themselves as a force that never left. Recently signing with Roc Nation, their flows remained effortless, and the chemistry between them was just as strong as it was back when they debuted. Using every second of stage time, they ran through a bevy of their hits – “Banned From TV,” “We Gonna Make It,” even verses from Puffy’s “All About The Benjamins.” New songs like “What Else You Need To Know,” “Secure The Bag,” and “The Family” weaved seamlessly into their set. At one point they had the entire room jumping up and down, which is hard feat to accomplish with the usually stoic NYC crowd.
As the night wore on, and the cloudy haze grew thicker, the entourage on the stage grew in size, and guests would push their way through to contribute to the evening’s entertainment. Rappers Yo Gotti and Raekwon both earned a raucous response from the crowd, with everyone pushing forward, straining their limbs to give and receive daps from anyone within reach.
As their set time came to a close, hoards of people rushed to the merch table to snap up autographed albums, hoodies, shirts, and fitted hats emblazoned with the LP name. While The Lox may not have released a “proper” album in a long time, it’s obvious they really never left. They were merely waiting for the right time to reemerge, and I’d say the timing couldn’t be more perfect. With the recent resurgence of many other 90’s hip-hop artists and groups, The Lox are primed to reclaim their rightful position on the top of the hip-hop game. If Filthy America… It’s Beautiful is any indication of their prowess, we’re in for a few treats in the years to come.
Article: Lesley Keller