Singer Jill Scott works pretty much nonstop. She has cranked out four beloved studio albums in the past decade, and when she took a four-year hiatus between 2007’s “The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3” and 2011’s “The Light of the Sun,” she spent the time writing a guest column for Essence magazine, taking on a variety of acting roles and having a baby.
But at the Verizon Center on Thursday night, Scott got to kick back — a little. Her annual “Summer Block Party” tour (which, this year, featured rappers Salt-N-Pepa, beat-box king Doug E. Fresh and smooth R&B crooner Kem) is technically work, but Scott, who always has a good time onstage, seemed to be having more fun than usual.
In between belting out lyrics about her haters being her motivators on 2007’s “Hate On Me” and cooing through a jazzy, slowed-down version of the romantic “A Long Walk,” from her 2000 debut, “Who Is Jill Scott?,” the singer acted out a commercial for a fake male-hygiene product and cracked jokes about rappers Rick Ross and Waka Flocka Flame. She pulled a straight wig over her short hair before performing “The Real Thing” and then whipped it off during a remix of “Love Rain,” which she sang as a handler ran a wave brush over her hair, mopped her brow and touched up her makeup. She even gave sex advice in the same Botswana accent she adopted to star in the HBO series “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.”
As much as those antics pepped up the audience, Scott — whose work with the late Chuck Brown resulted in his Grammy-nominated single “Love” — knows that you can’t hold a successful block party in the District without go-go. She led everyone in a round of “When I say ‘Chuck,’ you say ‘Brown!’ ” during the performance of “It’s Love,” her go-go-inspired 2000 breakout single. (Show host Fresh also hyped the crowd during a DJ tribute to the Godfather of Go-Go.)
Spoken-word poetry set to music has always been Scott’s thing, and some of her best blending of those worlds was evident in material from the new album, including “All Cried Out Redux,” a track with Fresh, and the sexy “So Gone (What My Mind Says).” Scott closed the show by delivering an impressive operatic version of fan favorite “He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)” and lamenting the fact that the party had to end so soon.
Godfrey is a freelance writer.