14 January 2009

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo - Live Hip Hop for Kids

The girls and I were in the house for Secret Agent 23 Skidoo's Philly show over the weekend. It marked our first kiddie hip hop show and was easily one of the best children's concerts, of any genre, that we've ever seen. It's a shame the Mrs, who is still madly in love with Black Star's seminal hip hop record, couldn't be there because 23 Skidoo, Mahira and DJ Adam Strange as a trio have the kind of flow and stage presence that Mos Def and Talib Kweli possess. Their style of hip hop is inclusive, good-natured and as enjoyable to listen to on record as it is to see and hear live. Add to it that 23's interaction with the young crowd was funny, light and very natural - you can tell the dude has a kid of his own (the talented Saki, who was unable to be in Philly for the show) - and you have one tremendous musical experience.

23 Skidoo (aka Cactus) went through much of the terrific album "Easy" along with the wonderful reading-inspired "Bug", a track the Bear would later declare her favorite of the show. The set closed with "I Gotta Be Me" a song that when performed live is as close to a kiddie anthem as any I've ever heard. The whole crowd was towards the front of the space, the kids all made 3 feet taller thanks to tables pressed up against the high stage. Everyone was smiling, swaying and shouting out, in response to 23 Skidoo's lyrical question "Whatcha gotta be?", the tremendously confident refrain "I GOTTA BE ME!". For the first time at any kid's show, and this includes sold out Justin Roberts and TMBG gigs, I heard folks calling out for an encore. No one wanted the gig to be to up after one hour. 23 Skidoo and crew could have played for another 60 minutes and no one would have minded a bit.

I cannot recommend a Secret Agent 23 Skidoo show enough for any music-loving family.
If you are naturally inclined to be skeptical of rap music, for whatever reason, fear not:

  1. Hip hop, in general, is much different from the sex-filled radio-friendly rap that may have shaped your negative perception of the style and even farther removed from gangsta rap and...
  2. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo's music is super positive and is filled with a lot of fun energy. You are your kids will be bouncing up and down once the first beat is dropped, that is guaranteed.
So if you are lucky enough to have 23 Skidoo rollin' through your town at some point this year, do try and get your family out to the show.

Official Site of Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

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