All Pro Football 2K8 Tour feat. Rakim, DJ Z-Trip, Gift of Gab, and Aceyalone
Bridging the East/West divide, the All Pro Football 2K8 Tour proves endorsement deals are a welcome alternative to cross-continental beefs.
All Pro Football 2K8 Tour feat. Rakim, DJ Z-Trip, Gift of Gab, and AceyaloneCity: New York, NY
Venue: Highline Ballroom
In the early ’90s, hip-hop was going through a transformation. West Coast artists such as Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and Tha Dogg Pound used their verbal arsenals to attack East Coast rappers. Further exacerbating the volatile situation between East and West, Tupac Shakur signed to Suge Knight’s Death Row Records and took it upon himself to challenge the likes of Nasir Jones (Nas) and Christopher Wallace (Notorious B.I.G.), in an attempt to proclaim West Coast dominance. But, though the feud between Tupac and B.I.G. seemed to foreshadow a never-ending war between America’s coastlines, it seems to have fallen by the wayside, at least as far as 2K Sports is concerned. In early 2007, the game franchise announced it plans to unite the hottest hip-hop acts from both coasts to create an energetic soundtrack for the newest installment in their sports game repertoire -- All Pro Football 2K8. To simultaneously promote the game and soundtrack, 2K Sports put together a tour that gives gamers and fans a small glimpse into the world of All Pro Football 2K8; on August 6th, DJ Z-Trip landed in New York City with fellow turntablist Tricky T, lyrical genius Gift of Gab (from powerhouse group Blackalicious), tongue-twisting wordsmith Aceyalone, and drummer Pete McNeal to transform Highline Ballroom into a fully interactive house party -- Xboxes and all. Before DJ Tricky T got the show underway, people spent time testing out APF2K8 on consoles outside the main hall. Similar to what one might see in the electronics department at a local Best Buy, each exhibit was equipped with two controllers which allowed people to tackle each other on screen while waiting for the show to start. With two huge screens in the stage’s background flashing continuous loops of APF2K8 commercials, DJ Tricky T -- a friend of DJ Z-Trip for 13 years -- got behind the decks to show New Yorkers what Arizona DJing is all about. Tricky T’s set started off with old-school New York records such as Notorious B.I.G.’s “Ten Crack Commandments” and Big L’s “Ebonics”, before slowing things down with some Barry White. Tricky T’s transitions were smooth, allowing him to jump from Redman or Gangstarr to Roni Size and The Fresh Prince with ease. By the end of Tricky T’s set, Highline Ballroom’s huge floor had filled with hip-hop enthusiasts primed for DJ Z-Trip’s mash-up mayhem. Most mash-up albums stay underground because the songs on their mixes are used without written or expressed consent. For this reason, Z-Trip’s original Uneasy Listening, Vol. 1 never received the mass production and distribution it deserved. But, though only 2000 copies were made, it soon became a cult favorite on the internet. After incessant touring and multiple collaborations, Z-Trip released his major-label debut, Shifting Gears, in 2005. Compiled with original material produced by Z-Trip himself, the record catapulted the producer from underground legend to mainstream power. Climbing that wave of acclaim, Z-Trip took the stage and immediately... hit the drums? Z-Trip banged out a few rhythms on the center-stage drum kit, located between the two screens, before taking his rightful place behind the wheels of steel. Welcomed with roaring applause, Z-Trip got his set underway with the Beastie Boys’ hometown hit “No Sleep ’Till Brooklyn”, before treating fans to a collage that mixed Alice in Chains with Peter Gabriel. Flashes of old Robert Plant and Jimmy Page live footage consumed both screens while Z-Trip fused Flavor Flav’s vocals from Public Enemy’s “Bring The Noise” with the thunderous blast of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”, sending onlookers into a rocking frenzy. Looking at the audience, it quickly became obvious who was and wasn’t familiar with Z-Trip’s specialized technique. Fans of Z-Trip didn’t stop bouncing throughout the set, whereas newcomers often seemed perplexed by his alternate versions of the hits. With flashing strobe lights accompanied by live visual mixing, Z-Trip kept the audience in suspense as he jumped from the Pharcyde’s “Passin Me By” to N.W.A.’s “Boyz In the Hood”, then sped things up with exceptionally fast drum ‘n bass beats accentuated by synchronized Tron-looking graphics. Z-Trip’s set cut to a close with a scratching spectacle that brought together Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Rage Against the Machine, and Queen. After releasing a rush of endorphins, Z-Trip brought out Freestyle Fellowship’s Aceyalone to show New Yorkers how California rappers personify the ill rhymesayer title.
Hip-hop has definitely evolved since the days of the infamous East Coast/West Coast feud. It’s safe to say that most of the fans who attended the All Pro Tour at New York City’s Highline Ballroom represented the East Coast, yet they cheered and sang along with West Coast heroes Aceyalone and Gift of Gab as if those artists were New York sons. DJ Tricky T, who was born on the West Coast, managed to include a fair number of East Coast tunes in his mix, while Gift of Gab, during his set, admitted to fans that he “grew up on New York hip-hop.” East Coast legend Rakim also gave respect to West Coast-born DJ Z-Trip throughout his performance. The fluidity of the Highline Ballroom show, and the album this tour promotes are proof that hip-hop has come a long way in the last decade. If this All Pro Tour mash-up trend further solidifies camaraderie between East Coast and West Coast artists, then perhaps the advertisement for All Pro Football 2K8 will hold true for years to come: Legends on the Field, Legends on the Soundtrack.