De La Soul

Times have changed, but that doesn't mean the members of De La Soul have to like it. Their show at the 9:30 club Tuesday night was filled with criticisms of the state of hip-hop, including a moment when Dave, aka Trugoy the Dove, spoke out against using Billboard and MTV's "Direct Effect" to gauge what's hot.

But the music was more effective than the commentary in exposing the weaknesses of commercial rap. It's hard to imagine anyone went out and bought the latest G-Unit release after this blazing two-hour show.

After Roots crew beat-box baron Rahzel amazed the crowd by making music with his mouth, Dave, Maseo and Posdnuos trekked through their inventory of headphone-rippers. They delivered the 1989 D.A.I.S.Y.-age posse cut "Buddy," the title track from their masterly 2004 album "The Grind Date" and almost everything in between.

About halfway through the show, De La Soul hosted a mini-reunion of the Native Tongues, the mid-school hip-hop collective that paired thoughtful, positive lyrics with a muscular hip-hop sound. Dres of the Black Sheep performed "The Choice Is Yours" and "Flavor of the Month" and Phife and Jarobi of A Tribe Called Quest offered up "Buggin' Out," "Butter" and "Award Tour," among others.

But it was the innovative "Rock Co. Kane Flow" that stole the show. Before getting into the addictive track, with its unexpected rhythmic shifts and variations in speed, Dave said that anyone who wasn't entranced should throw their tickets in the air and leave. After it was over, not a single stub or sneaker had budged.

-- Sarah Godfrey


Common credited his success to the "most high" during a magnetic performance at Dream Nightclub on Tuesday -- meaning either the Man Upstairs or Kanye West.

Ultimately, it's producer almighty West who recently rekindled the veteran rapper's career after supervising Common's latest effort, "Be." The album's unflagging buzz brought a wall-to-wall throng to Dream's crowded second floor, where toes were tapping when they weren't getting stepped on.

"Tonight we gonna treat Dream like it's our basement," Common announced early on, and proceeded to rock the full house party with his latest Kanye-produced single "Go!" The rapper was kinetic and nimble, zipping back and forth across the stage as his band, a no-nonsense combo of keys, drums and DJ, pumped a fresh new zest into the brisk, sultry number.

With a voice like fine-grain sandpaper, Com' massaged his rhymes generously over other tracks, praising his personal holy trinity of God, hip-hop and the ladies on "Faithful," "The Corner" and "Come Close," respectively. Common also offered his cameo verse from Black Star's 1998 underground hit "Respiration" and a deft freestyle over the track from "Electric Relaxation" by A Tribe Called Quest.

The improvised verse wasn't the most electrifying moment of the evening, but it was the most engaging. Fans listened intently as the rapper touched on everything from the Ying-Yang Twinz's radio smash "Wait (The Whisper Song)" to the veggie burgers at Ben's Chili Bowl. Common may have raised a few eyebrows after promising to "bring the light like Miller" (the concert's official sponsor), but he capped the freestyle with an unprintable slam on President Bush that triggered some of the most thunderous applause of the night.

-- Chris Richards