On my way home from Broadway Joeís the night that Baby Steps turned fiveóor the night that MC Prosper had seventeen heads on stage, or the night Jugular Starr stole the show, or the night DJ Tommee reaffirmed that he is one of the dopest DJs from Buffalo, or the night that Breezly Brewin forgot a few measly lyricsóI saw these three girls walking up the street. One of them was in a shopping cart, puking over the side. We were all drunk. Everyone. In fact, I still am.

After listening to someoneís music for years, when you finally get to put a face to the words, itís difficult to be appeased. You imagine heís invincible, twelve feet tall. You talk to him and ask him if he is surprised that he got such a great response in a small city like Buffalo, and he says, "Hell Yeah I am." He continues, "More importantly, this is hope." He tells me it is hope for a music that can save the world, that itís bigger than jazz, itís words. When asked to expound, he tells me, "Kanye Westís album just dropped. You can take the smartest, most educated hip-hop fan and the gullyest street cat and put them together. The two have nothing in common, but can talk for three hours about one record. That is hope." Master P is a millionaire and Breezly Brewin flew into Buffalo at 11:30 in the evening on a Friday, to leave at 6:30 the next morning, knowing he had to get a lesson plan together by Monday for the 7th grade class he teaches. And Nelly has booties shaking. Breez says he is sick of hip-hop being defined on its own, and rarely being called music. Emcees and producers should be called musicians.

You wish that he remembered every word youíve already heard countless times on record, so you can tell people you saw him say it. You find out he has two children and he is as equally shocked to learn that you have three. He isnít from mount Olympus, heís from the Bronx, where he went to a predominantly white prep school, for which he was awarded a scholarship and fought everyday.

And he still fights everyday. Sure, his plane almost crashed on his way in. Sure, he forgot some words, but he still killed it. Many emcees roam the earth, very few with swagger; even fewer with a sly swagger indicative of an original delivery, woven in unorthodox rhyme patterns. A couple of people may have been put off by Brewinís memory lapses, but most understood what Iíve just stated and can appreciate these things. To those who didnít or still donít: oh well.

He tells you that he is equally impressed with Baby Steps running for five years. But before I talked with Brewin, and well before he performed, Jugalar Starr proved himself a capable crowd controller. Many havenít the control to keep a pace as vigorous as Jugalar did for an entire set. He lost no steam, and seriously embarrassed any doubters and shamed those at the bar not paying attention. Taking nothing away from anyone, he may have been the highlight of the evening. Prosper was equally enthralling, though not in the same way. People turned a bit on the rabidly excited tip. Emcee Sick, when reflecting, made an interesting and, I think, valid point about Prosperís entourage hitting the stage in a barrage: "It isnít as if he needed them to hype him up. He hyped them up so much that they felt it necessary to bumrush the stage." It also helps that DJ Daringer kept spinning head-nodders to keep the set moving nicely.

As usual, when it comes to an Baby Steps anniversary show, DJ Tommee was back in the place captivating finger-gazers. LoPro was smiling as he tossed vinyl, tipping back a Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Rich the Snitch dropped gems masterfully; all while the DFC Breakdancers put b-boy visuals to the beats. Everyone who has ever hosted a Baby Steps event was present and enjoyable in that capacity, and, of course, a less than sober show-out from Emcee Sick made good on what has become an entertaining anniversary tradition. We even enjoyed an appearance by The BEASTís Evil Stepfather. If you missed it, I would say to see number six this time next year, but that would be a shameless plug.--tone@

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© 2004 The Beast