Eighties revivalism may still be the general public's nostalgia du jour, but the hip-hop world is always looking ahead -- even when it's gazing backward. So rappers and their fans have their wayback machines set for the early '90s, the ultra-creative Golden Age before gunfire and blingfests began to drown out the beats and rhymes. And the resurgence of interest has put two of the era's biggest names, Black Sheep and Special Ed, back on the road.
Black Sheep -- the Big Apple duo of Dres and Mista Lawnge -- are best remembered for Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, a 1991 album considered one of the seminal recordings of the Native Tongue movement, the Afrocentric hip-hop school that also claimed De La Soul and the Jungle Brothers as members. The Sheep actually re-formed in 2000 to contribute to the soundtrack of Laurence Fishburne's Once in the Life, and are touring behind 8WM, their first release in close to a decade.
Opening is Special Ed, who at age 16 set hip-hop on its ear with the rapid-fire flows of his debut, Youngest in Charge. Now 31, Ed recently recorded with Snoop Dogg and has been readying his own comeback album for SEMI -- that is, Special Ed Music Inc.