Living Legends Give Hip-Hop Heads an Early Christmas Gift

Brooklyn Bowl, Nov. 30

For hip-hop heads, the end of this otherwise depressing year has given us cause for joy. First A Tribe Called Quest dropped a new album after an 18-year hiatus, then eight-man west coast collective Living Legends announced a reunion tour. The crew officially disbanded in 2012, but their last joint release was in 2008, so their absence feels even longer. While the latter crew may not have reached deity-like status, they were pioneers of the DIY hip-hop movement who went from hustling crackly cassettes to flirting with MTV in the late aughts.

Corralled together again by member The Grouch for his 10th annual How The Grouch Stole Christmas tour, their reunion at Brooklyn Bowl was a true gift. Not only was Las Vegas the first audience to see all eight members—The Grouch, Murs, Eligh, Scarub, Luckyiam, Sunspot Jonz, Bicasso and Aesop—on stage again, but they blessed fans with deep cuts from their extensive catalogs, from Eligh’s 1998 single “Coincidence” to Sunspot’s 2000 cut “Dirty Faces.”

True to their independent upbringing, there was nothing flashy about the performance—just a screen projecting visuals that complemented each song, two giant inflated hands shaped like Ls and eight dudes rapping their asses off. A fumble on “Nothing Less” aside, the crew bounced around stage and traded verses like they hadn’t missed a beat. They kept the banter to a minimum, with exceptions for the obligatory thank yous, a “Fuck Donald Trump” interlude and The Grouch denouncing the Dakota Access Pipeline. Instead, they let the music do the talking, speeding through a more than 90-minute set of posse cuts and solo singles. And yet it still felt short—no “The Firefly Rebellion,” “Silly Puddy” or “Everafter”?!—but that’s what happens when you’ve got an arsenal of underground classics to choose from. Hopefully, once the tour wraps up, they’ll hit the studio and make some more. ★★★✩✩

Photos by Glenn Brogan / Kabik Photo Group

Set List
Gotta Question For Ya / Trojan Horse
It’s Us
Night Prowler
2010 (3MG)
She Wants Me
Freestyle with DJ Fresh
Moving At the Speed of Life (Aesop)
Good Fun
Another Day (Luckyiam)
L.A. (Murs)
The Bay to LA (The Grouch ft. Murs)
Think Big (Bicasso)
Simple Man (The Grouch)
Dirty Faces (Sunspot Jonz)
Mind Over Matter (The Grouch & Eligh)
The Gathering
Wishful Thinking (Scarub)
Coincidence (Eligh)
Nothing Less
Windows (CMA)
Never Falling Down
Rabbit Hole

After Hours