When Jill Scott throws a Block Party, like the one she staged at the Verizon Center last Thursday, let it be known that this was not your average family outing! This party was strictly for grown ups.
Scott's "Summer Block Party" did keep folks entertained, and took some back to their school days, opening with the still amazing rap duet of Salt-N-Pepa. Like soup-and-sandwich, you can't have one without the other, and despite the 25 years that have passed since their debut, these girls still got it going on.
Rolling through their hits "The Mike Sounds Nice," "I'll Take Your Man," "Whatta Man," and "Shoop," the two who have barely aged a day, could have handled the show all by themselves. But they were just the openers! Emceed by another ageless entity, Doug E. Fresh, the first part of the party took the audience, which was primarily made up of the over-30 crowd, back to their teenage, or in some cases, pre-teen years.
After Salt-N-Pepa pumped up the crowd, there was a marked shift in energy when Kem, with his smooth soul sound, came on stage with a 12-person band all dressed in white. Despite the fact that he has only released three recordings, the audience seemed very familiar with his lyrics, singing along with "I Can't Stop Loving You," "Share My Life," and the Grammy Award-winning "Why Would You Stay." Kem showed that he too could kick it "Old School" when his band and backup singers performed a medley of 70s songs; the Emotions "Best of My Love," Earth, Wind & Fire's "Can't Hide Love" and Chaka Khan and Rufus' "Sweet Thing," which backup singer L'Renee blew the roof off on.
Despite Kem's mellow groove, the crowd was ready for Scott, but a long band change followed since Kem's band and Scott's band are relatively large. But leave it to the ultimate MC, Fresh to keep the party moving, launching into a tribute to Chuck Brown, who he called "a friend, a Real friend," while the deejay played the best of Chuck B. to the delight of a D-M-V crowd still reeling from the May death of the Godfather of Go-Go.
Fresh took it a notch further, going into his own repertoire of human beat-box rhythms, including an extended version of "The Show," which utilized all of Fresh's skills as a rapper and beat-boxer. Adding the icing to the cake, he demonstrated how the "Original Dougie" dance should be done, interlocking smooth, flawless moves that should have been impossible for someone at the advanced age of 46. Not only did he do the real Dougie, but showed the basketballer's version of the Dougie as well as the "Golf Dougie," all to the absolute delight of the crowd.
But when it came down to time for Scott, the anticipation in the air was palpable. And the incredible Ms. Scott – singer, songwriter, poet and actress – did not disappoint. Her 100-minute set started with a rousing "It's Love," from her first album, "Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1," setting the stage for a night of total entertainment. At one point, she pulled out a straight bob wig and placed it on her latest hairdo, a short natural that showed off her beautiful features, and morphed into rock-and-roll Jill after a duet of "All Cried Out Redux," with Fresh, who appears on her chart-topping CD "The Light of the Sun."
Perhaps what makes Scott so endearing to people are her monologues and honesty, and she spared no details from the recent weighing of her breasts; "under these 22 pounds ... is a heart," she quipped, to a raunchy infomercial for a male freshener, which she dedicated to Rick Ross and Waka Flocka Flame.