The Best Hip Hop Show I've Ever Seen: "The Smokers Tour"

Nov 8th at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, I attended my first 'Smokers Club Tour'. A tour that has been around for the past 5 years, where legendary hip hop artists collaborated with the 'New School' artists  blending wavy performances that's a must see for any fan of hip hop. 

As I walked through the doors into the 'Regency Ballroom', the air got warm, people were standing outside of the main auditorium doors, and there was this thick fog inside of the building. Familiar music was being played, where I caught myself chanting the hook in my head, while my lips were mimicking the verse and hook. After the music stopped, a familiar voice could be heard, "Whats up San Franciscoooooo!!!!!" I've heard this voice before so I already knew it was Berner.


San Francisco Hip Hop artist Berner on stage known for his business ethics, lazy flow, and signed to Wiz Khalifas TaylorGang

"I'm just happy to be back in my hometown for this tour, and I've been counting down since the start of it." The sea of people starts making noise and then Berner's DJ played "5 on it remix" by The Luniz and some of the Bay Area All Stars "Who remembers this?" says Berner. The crowd was singing the hook before it was mixed into his next song "Come On." His stage presence was smooth, very laid back, and filled with the type of music that the audience could smoke to. I mean, he is known for his smoking anthems and his strain/brand called "Cookies." He is one of the Bay Areas most hardest working artist on and off the mic, a true representation of the quick 'Cali second' hustle.


Berner performing, the crowd pulls out their phones and started recording the performance

After Berner performed his set, the DJ began playing some classic Hip Hop music going through the different eras. Until the lights went black, and out came the hype man center staged. "Who's ready for B-Real?" (The main vocalist fom the 90's super group 'Cypress Hill'). The audience started getting closer to the stage, "I said who is ready for B-Real!?!?" the crowd then started going wild. 

I'm not going to lie, I've only heard of B-Real from his musical work with Cypress Hill, and his interviews online. 


B-Real from Cypress Hill on the microphone

Out he came from the back and then proceeded to the center of the stage to rock it with an old school performance style. The type that makes you bounce your head back and forth to the beat. His performance was based off his classics over the years, and some new work that he had recently dropped online with the previous act, Berner, who he brought out to perform one of their songs off the recntly dropped project called "Shatter". 


B-Real promoting the new project, and his appreciation for his fans

Apart of his act, he pulled alot of crowd involvement with the audience, my favorite which was the part where he was hyping the crowd to get loud, saying stuff like "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!!!" until the crowd was screaming and shouting where he then says "Who you getting crazy with ese, don't you know I'm loco?" which was the intro to his most well known song "Insane in the MembraneThe whole crowd went stupid wild. It was one of those classic songs that everybody knows, where most of the audience would dance to. Apart of his performance, he went up to his DJ who was going wild with the scratching, and would trade places with him in a choreographed performance of live scratching on the turntables. 


On the top floor, a fan is recording the B-Real performance 

After his dope set, B-real said his peace and left the stage. The 'Regency' then turned on the lights and let the fans get a chance to go outside and get some air, and conversate amongst themselves, and recollect their energy, as they got the set ready for the headliners 'Method Man and Redman'.  


One of the DJs off Wu-Tang Clan Sound checking the tables before Redman and Method Man perform.


Banners for the headliners.

As I walked back inside, I didn't know what to expect, cause I hear alot of hype built around these guys from my boys. I heard Method Man and Redmans performance was equal to watching a Tech N9ne performance. This was something I had to see, cause Tech N9nes performance is a heavy choreographed performance from the begining of the show with the opening acts, to the last seconds where Tech bows to the audience. As the lights get dim, the Dj's take some time to give shout outs to some of the fallen emcees of the past (Tupac, Biggie, Big L, etc..), by playing and blending songs together. They also performed some of their talent with new up to date records to bring up the energy in the room. After they finished their 20 min set, one of the DJ's grabbed the mic and started to state that they will not bring them (Red an Meth) if the audience did not bring the energy. So he started to get the audience to go back and forth with him on chants to bring Method Man and RedMan to the stage. 


Method Man telling the audience about cell phones and the use of energy.

As the audience starts getting louder, you hear both Method Man and RedMans voice over the music bein played.

"I am Method Man"

"I am RedMan"

"and we are from the mighty Wu Tang Claaaaaaaan"

then they both ran out on stage performing, the whole crowd was loving it. After their intro, RedMan tells the DJ to stop spinning so he could speak. "Before we start this show, I just want to let everybody know that if you're in the front of the stage... Put your phones away.. No.. put your phone away, cause we don't like that sh*t."


RedMan hitting the audience in the front with water as he's performing one of his verses

"Ye, We work with the energy you give us.. so the more you energy you give to us... The more energy we will give back.. But the less energy you give us, the less we are going to do.. Plus all you in the front row, your phones will get wet if I see that sh*t is out and you're texting while we're performing.. Cause why would you spend $60 for a ticket to be texting?" said Method Man

Then you hear M-E-T-H-O-D Man in repeat chant through the speakers before the beat drops. People went bananas for it. Hell even I was on the 2nd floor chanting. Watching Red and Meth perform was INCREDIBLE! they were on point from the back and forth ending each others rhymes, to the crowd participation, to the choreographed performance.


Method Man and RedMan choreographed movement for their song "How High

Thats not even the best part, they were on some real life 'Rock Stars' tip. Literally stage diving into the audience, crowd surfing, to fans having Method Man standing on their hands, so he can rap standing over the audience. Even more dope was how much respect they had for their craft, the fans, and even the DJs. You could see by how they performed that they put alot of work into this, and by how they held themselves you could see the confidence and the love they have for this. 


Method Man 'Crowd Surfing' during the set

Its not crazy to say that I've seen some good and bad shows from artist I grew up listening to. But to see Method Man and RedMan perform was one of those experiences you have to see atleast once. Whether your just a fan of Hip Hop, to even learning tips on how to perform (if you are an up and coming emcee). All in all one of the best shows I have ever seen.  

About Baylingual

Baylingual is a San Jose Photographer, Youth Organizer, Video Producer, Journalist, and commentator of De-Bug. He posts local music releases on this site called "We Speak Baylingual Music Blog". He is also in the works on a video series interviewing artist all over the bay area, about culture, community, and anything in depth with the interviewee called 'Chopping Game'. 

Write him at: baylingual@yahoo.com

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