Show Review: CL Smooth

One too many live Herbie Hancock videos and I found myself fending for an antidote that only the funk could provide. I never thought the funk would ensnare me to venture towards what I can best describe as a funkadelic den. See, one might not expect a legend of hip-hop to blow up an intimate bar in a bustling corner of Los Angeles, but then again most legends aren’t cut from the same cloth as CL Smooth Mellow orange beams of light set the stage at the Echoplex for a legend of hip-hop. What otherwise would have remained a low-key bar in Echo Park, the venue was soon bumping. A leader of the underground hip-hop movement of the 1990’s, a true lyricist, an absolute hammer... CL Smooth blew up the Echo with a contagious swarm of energy.  

I always heard CL Smooth (particularly on his recordings with Pete Rock) as a pillar of the sort of laid back rap that preached afro-centricity rather than anger. Being more akin to the chilled out disposition of Q-tip and Digable Planets than the aggressive demeanor of N.W.A. or Wu-Tang Clan, I didn’t expect CL to come in so hot. He busted onto the stage, an absolute savage with a putridly vehement facial expression to accompany the hypnotizingly radioactive funk music that the band (and the crowd) was getting down on – and I can’t emphasize enough how DOWN they got.

Now the name of this show was technically “CL Smooth Unplugged,” but I have never seen someone more plugged into the funk than this legendary hammer. He was ecstatic, delivering lines with such passion and grease making it easy for one to slip into a funkalicious trance if you weren’t careful. It was the kind of show where the crowd had no choice but to get on the performer’s level – a level I can personally attest facilitated the conditions where the dirty, the nasty, and the illustrious coalesce into a boiling pot o’phunk. 

The drummer opened up by administering heavy doses of rhythmic funk that served as the foundation for the rest of the coalition of funk chancellors. The bongo player went full hunter-gatherer, abandoning the traditionalist customs Western society had in place to withhold him from divine providence. Then, a flash of light blinded me, out of the corner of my eye I saw an iridescent figure abscond into the foreground. Bizkit was offloading a heavy incendiary deposit out the bell of his saxophone, busting the classic sax line over “They Reminisce Over You”. However, the chancellors would be in disorder without their bailiff, an impassioned tigress, instilling order over the audience in the high court of funk through tectonically perturbing melodic vocals. Meanwhile, in defiance of the bailiff’s ruling, the conductor, CL, seized helm of the funk train and distributed the funk serum to the masses with grand execution. The conductor demanded that the prisoners of funk be liberated and absolved of their Earthly restrictions, under one condition; that love, peace, and change could be instilled into the general populous. The conductor slammed the brakes, the chief magistrate smashed the gavel, CL led the exodus of the ignorant down the path of enlightenment, into Nirvana. The newly enlightened scoundrels were finally liberated, baptized with funk nectar seeping through their pores, I could now grab street tacos in bliss. 

LUKE JUROW AND KENNETH EGELKROUT, DJ
PIECES OF PHUNK, TUESDAYS 12 P.M. - 2 P.M.

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