A.D. Amorosi, For The Inquirer
Monday, June 8, 2015, 1:08 AM
The complicated life and legal history of Dwight Grant - Beanie Sigel - South Philly's grittiest rapper and preeminent rep of its meanest streets - is etched in stone and repeated in newsprint. He's been Jay Z's best bud, label signee, and worst enemy (pals now since Beans and Hova reunited for May's Tidal B-Sides concert). He's got a stark, seven-album-deep solo career, and is forever a member of State Property with Freeway and other notorious Philly MCs. He's been arrested, jailed, and released, most recently in 2014, when he was shot and hospitalized. Yet, here he was, alive, well, hulking and hearty on the stage of South Street's TLA on Saturday, doing his first full gig since 2014's release - living proof of one undeniable fact: You can jail him, you can shoot him, but you cannot stop him.
With the over-sold-out house rhyming with every word, Sigel took command quickly. This article is from wwwphilly.comHe wasn't tentative about not having done a solo concert since 2012, before incarceration for tax evasion. In dark shades and smoking a cigar, he kicked into "Do It Again" and its hard tale of a night out - "12 a.m.: On the way to the club; 1 a.m.: DJ made it a rub; 2 a.m.: Now I'm getting with her; 3 a.m.: Now I'm splitting with her." His voice was gruff and halting, his pauses dramatic (especially those a cappella endings), his flow like cider vinegar - tart but tasty. The syncopated click behind "Beanie" was diabolical perfection for his origin-story rap and street king soliloquy. "Guess who's back? I move blocks and pounds," he cackled before finding creepy new names for himself and his tale of back-in-the-day bravado: "They call me Chef Boy-ar-Beans, Beanie Crocker, cook coke proper."
The hits flew by roughly, from "The Truth" and its snarking on judges to the emotional plea of "This Can't Be Life" where he crooned, "there's gotta be more." Particularly stark were bleak looks at incarceration, such as the swaying "What Ya Life Like" and his onetime pairing with Raekwon of "Have Mercy." Trading licks with a high-pitched Freeway, such lines as "My cell getting smaller, my son getting taller . . . It's hard to raise my boy from this visiting room" rang out as potently poignant.
Of course, State Property (Peedi Peedi, Omillio, Freeway, etc.) helped Beans ring out his set - they're family - but it was Sigel's time to shine. Here's hoping it stays that way.