LL Cool J, 'Kings of the Mic' still rule
It doesn't get more Strong Island than this.
Led by Bay Shore native LL Cool J, "The Kings of the Mic" tour, which stopped at Roseland Ballroom Thursday night, didn't just show how powerful the area's hip-hop scene was back in the day, it made it clear that the reigns of these "kings" is far from over.
In a fast-paced four hours, the acts covered hip-hop from its Bronx roots to LL's latest, more pop-leaning incarnation.
Amityville's De La Soul started the night mixing new material with songs from their classic "3 Feet High and Rising" album, including the great "Me, Myself and I" as well as Black Sheep's "The Choice Is Yours" with special guest Drez.
Roosevelt's Public Enemy, fresh off their recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, showed how their creative fire still burns bright with a raucous set that ended with "Fight the Power."
Even Ice Cube, whose set was packed with West Coast rap as a solo artist and with N.W.A., has his Long Island links, recording his debut solo album "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted" in West Hempstead with The Bomb Squad. He even brought out Grandmaster Melle Mel to do the classic "The Message," as well as "Check Yo Self."
However, this night belonged to LL Cool J, who showed off songs from his new "Authentic" album, as well as classics like the hard-hitting "Mama Said Knock You Out," which opened the set. His distinct, clear rapping style has not declined since he has turned his focus to acting on "NCIS: Los Angeles" and hosting awards shows like the Grammys.
"It's been a long time," said LL, following "Whaddup," his rocking duet with Chuck D from "Authentic."
However, it didn't show. LL prowled the stage solo -- no hype man, no dancers -- with only DJ Z-Trip backing him up. He took a geographic approach in his set, from Queens to the Dirty South-influenced "Headsprung." But it was his Long Island memories that drew the biggest applause.