Follow the yellow brick road to R16 – Backstage Report

Sunday, Sept. 27th,2009— A small group of Camp fans meet up at 1pm in Gangnam to journey to Incheon, a quaint city about an hour and 1/2 drive away from Seoul. After scouring the streets to find a quick meal and finding the right bus stop, we hope on to the empty bus questioning if it’s  going to take us to the right part of the festival. We look at the maps we have and the site looks huge and confusing. We worry that we won’t get there in time to claim a good seat (it was first come first serve).

It’s about 2:40pm when we arrive, and after being sprayed down by the human flu wash machine (see side pic – it literally looks like a car wash for humans), we wander the premises for an hour trying to find the stage. R16 is part of the Incheon Global Fair Festival and the place is reminiscent of a Disney theme park with happy go lucky music, a multilcultural parade, and believe it or not, a yellow brick road. Ironically, the road doesn’t lead to R16 directly, but just loops around the park and creates confusion. >:O

Our group finally finds the stage. We spot a few DT fans that show up at JK’s shows regularly.  It is only 4pm and the seats start to fill so we scour for the only front row seats there. About 5:30pm, Roscoe’s team arrives and grants me a pass so I can document the show for Camp (thanks, Eugene :]). My team mans the fort in the front row and promises to take photos/video of the performance.

Any other person would probably crap their pants if they were allowed backstage access to this show, but for a lot of people there, it was a simple reunion between friends.  The artists have all worked with each other in some form, while others from the entourage have crossed paths via collaborations or simple friends of friends (saw some surprise faces I have not seen in ages and it simply was a “WHAT THE?!” moment every 10 minutes lol).

Roscoe’s team is the first to arrive. He mentions he has been ridiculously busy performing and penning for some major artists back in the  US. He hasn’t been back to Korea since 2001 and hasn’t been on stage with JK since 2000. It’s a bit of a surreal feeling for him. He is jetlagged and feens for an energy drink to get his gears moving. Korea is not too big on energy drinks, and they’re particularly rare in Incheon, so a coffee from on the onsite CVS/GsMart is brought in instead.

Dumbfoundead and Rakaa soon arrive and the present team talk briefly about how the day’s performance is going to go. Roscoe’s team puts the final touches on his set, but they await JK’s arrival to talk about how they’ll execute “Monster,” the English version. With Rakaaa and Roscoe there, they can perform the English version, but need to coordinate how they’ll fill in Rakim’s and Tasha’s verse. It’s 32 bars missing and other emcees are needed to fill in.

Pictured above: Glen (AOW, Roscoe’s management team), Bizzy, ? (I’m so bad with names so I’m sorry to this person), Dumbfoundead, Justin (AOW, Roscoe’s team), Rakaa, Eugene Techbeatz (AOW, Roscoe’s Managemeant Team, producer of “Monster,” and half of DT8), ? (again, bad with names), Roscoe, JK, and Palo Alto.

JK arrives and photographers ask to take a group photo of all the performers (sorry Epik fans, I think they missed the cue for this one). JK first takes the time to catch up with the old friends. He talks with Roscoe about his health, the industry/the company (Jungle), and of course his married with children life. It’s not an easy task for him to juggle everything, but he’s motivated by his family to keep going. In the midst of this, they pose.

They begin organizing “Monster,” but some of the other emcees have stepped out for a bite or haven’t arrived yet. So the present team begins assembling what they have. The English instrumental of “Monster” is a whopping 6+ minutes and there is some concern about executing it for the first time in front of a live crowd.

The rest of the crew arrive and they pow wow in JK’s dressing room. After 15 minutes, they reorganize the whole song: Mithra & Tablo will start with their own verses and fill the first 32 bars, Rakaa proceeds, Roscoe next, and then JK will finish with his Korean verses.

As the team puts the final touches on their sets, a crowd waits impatiently outside.

As JK sits backstage politicking with Tablo, we hear the words “Drunken Tiger” being echoed by Bizzy & Palo, who had just finished up their set that was similar to what they did at S-Club. J does a quick warm up, stretches, and jumps on stage.  [From here on, my photos aren’t going to be great, but I’ll try to illustrate as much of the action as possible.]

J starts with “Do You Know Hip-Hop,” and warms  up to the crowd. Within minutes, JK is at the foot of the “pit” (front area crowd of fans). He is within touching distance of fans, and the crowd goes bananas as he stands close to them.

[A full report of the performance is coming, so I’ll skip this for now and summarize the rest of the line up quickly.]

After JK’s set, Roscoe comes out and clearly some of the DT fans in the crowd recognize him. However, as Roscoe holds up his signature customized Vlado sneakers, the crowd erupts. They beg and scream,  yearning for the shoes [they run about $100 in market value]. Justin, who hypes up for Roscoe during his set, takes the sneakers and holds them up to tease the crowd. Meanwhile, Roscoe is doing his signature hit, “Live It Up,” and keeps the crowd screaming. Justin steps into the pit and [here is the irony] gives the sneakers to one of my friends that came with me (thanks for making his trip worth it, guys!).

Epik is next, who then introduce Rakaa. Hardcore hip-hop fans know who he is, while some unfamiliar with him  just stare blank  and confused. Rakaa does the Dilated hit “This Way,” and surprises the whole crowd as “Monster,” finishes his set. Immediately, the whole crew, Epik, Palo, Bizzy, and Roscoe come out to do what will probably be the one and only English live performance of the song (I have it on vid, but my camera is acting up and won’t upload. I’ll let my guest writer post her footage from the front row and talk about it.)

After the show, some last  minute photos are shot.

And finally, this little fun tidbit from 3 kings of hip-hop (plus Eugene Techbeatz haha):

As the day winds down, JK walks out to his van and a flood of fans are waiting behind the gates to catch of glimpse of him.

With all the fans doing their best to jump the gates, Roscoe asks for one last pic with the fans in the background. Below is the result

And now that it’s 4am, I must sleep. – Miss DrunkenCamp

UP NEXT: R16 pt 2 – The Front Row Experience


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5 thoughts on “Follow the yellow brick road to R16 – Backstage Report”

  1. Thanks for covering this, Elsa. You really make all the excitement accessible to those of us outside of Korea — and it really means a lot to us fans. I love and look up to the DT crew and with you reporting and bringing us pics and news, it ties fans to the artists and brings us that much closer together, instead of having DT’s story be inaccessible and kind of “hmm, wonder what they’re up to now.” I know you’re giving up a lot of your time to let us know what’s up so I wanted to just leave some appreciation here and tell you you rock hardcore.

    Peace.

  2. Wow thanks for covering all of that, really cool. I’m glad this new blog format makes it a lot easier for you to update regularly. Now I can get some more of that DT info! lol. Can’t wait to see the video for the English Monster performance.

    Also, I like how you slightly covered the process of getting there too and showing the flu wash machine and stuff. Of course DT info is most important on here, but it’s nice getting to know Korea in general too. I wouldn’t mind seeing a few blog posts dedicated to educating the viewers on the Korean culture. Really interesting stuff. Thanks again.

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