“It is truly an honor and a privilege to stand on this stage before you in this present time and in any time. Respect to all of the legends who has stood here before,” says Yasiin Bey (born Dante Terrell Smith) a few songs into his performance at the Apollo Theater in Harlem Wednesday night. “Not nearly enough roses in each garden to cover it all up.” As a sign of paying respect to his elders and the fallen, Yasiin took a minute before picking up his signature red microphone to bless the stage with handfuls of white and red roses, sprinkling them all over until he had no more to give.
And even during those first few minutes of his performance, the audience reciprocated the respect environment he created from the beginning. I enjoy most hip-hop concerts standing up with an alcoholic beverage in hand, either head-nodding from a far or in the thick of a mosh pit. Here at the Apollo, though, Yasiin established an aura fit for the theater. Nearly all his patrons quietly sat in their seats as they enjoyed the sights of his opening video “Basquiat Ghostwriter” and subsequent new material.