The mentality is everybody eats, as it should be when it comes to hip-hop. And one of the genre's greatest O.G.'s, Ice-T, has built one of the biggest platforms for the game's legends to not just perform on a large scale but to generate revenue for their craft.
Founded by Ice and his partner Mickey Bentson, "The Art of Rap Presents: The History of Hip-Hop Tour" has been going strong across the country since 2015, featuring a rotating list of rap's A-List alumni from Mobb Deep to Rakim to Biz Markie.
On Friday (February 23), the tour came to New Jersey's NJPac Center with EPMD, Big Daddy Kane, Bone Thugs-in-Harmony, N.O.R.E. and his partner Capone, Onyx, Roxanne Shante, DJ Mister Cee, Mr. Cheeks and Brand Nubian. Ice himself even took to the stage to laugh with the audience about how he gets paid to play a cop on TV and then perform "Colors."
Backstage, Ice explained his inspiration for the tour came after he dropped his acclaimed documentary which he directed and produced as well as starred in, "Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap" which featured the likes of Kanye West, Nas, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Lord Jamar of Brand Nubian, and Joe Budden.
"After people received the movie so well, it was like, 'We can't end it here, but we don't want to do a part two or part three,'" said Ice. "The movie was my journey [and] all the people I was in contact with in my hip-hop career starting with Zulu Nation. I told my partner Mickey Bentson, 'You've got a business sense, you've been a agent, you managed people like Big Pun, why don't you take this and make a tour?'"
The initial "Art of Rap" show was announced in the spring of 2015. The concert took place that July with Ice, Bone Thugs and Game headlining. Other acts included Naughty By Nature, Xzibit, Warren G, EPMD, Rakim and Slick Rick.
"The tour is basically all platinum and gold rap acts from the 90s, the 80s, getting a chance to get in front of their audience," Ice said. "The audience is mature now and [the acts are] just saying, 'It's not over.' No disrespect to Drake or any of the new guys, but if EPMD is gonna wait to get a call to do a tour with them, it may not happen. So what we gonna do, be unemployed when there's still obviously an audience that wants to see it? So we decided to package it up. The tour constantly changes, [you're seeing] different people."
Ice added, "I just talked to Keith Murray, he wants to do it. Onyx joined tonight. The more we do it, the more people are interested. You know how Perry Farrell created Lollapalooza? It's not about me performing every night. It's about the people I admire and other people. Usually we try to get some younger groups on in early in the night, but it's about trying to represent classic hip-hop."