Rhyme and Reason Hindsight Is 20/20

Happy 20th anniversary to the greatest hullabaloo that never was

August 2nd, 2000 was a day this ROCKthusiast had been looking forward to for a long time. It was supposed to be the ultimate amalgamation of music superpowers at the venue that held some of the most formative experiences ever for me – Molson Park in Barrie, Ontario for Rhyme and Reason.

Beastie Boys were continuing to ride high on the success of Hello Nasty two years following its release. No wonder the King Ad-Rock would later call it their best record in Beastie Boys Book. I had missed the last time the three MC’s and one DJ passed through my ’hood (at the same outdoor locale, with Biz Markie and Canadian hip-hop luminaries Choclair and Rascalz), but in a lot of ways was still recovering from when they brought down Molson Park as part of Lollapalooza 1994.

In the opposite corner were Rage Against the Machine, whose 1999 album The Battle of Los Angeles solidified them as rap metal’s most politically charged rabble rousers. The group had become big enough to headline a free concert during the 2000 Democratic National Convention and could undoubtedly have been able to draw 30,000 people to Molson Park on their own; the 11-city Rhyme and Reason tour with Beastie Boys would have been the icing on an expletively-decorated cake.

It was apparently too good of a thing to be true. Mike D suffered a beastly shoulder injury that required surgery and the whole shebang to be postponed. A little over two months after what should have been the August 2nd kick-off in Barrie, RATM singer Zach de la Rocha announced that he was leaving the band, ensuring the dates would never be rescheduled and that Rhyme and Reason would remain an unfulfilled memory in thousands of ticket buyers’ minds. Rage of course reunited for the 2007 edition of Coachella and were supposed to do the same again in 2020 but we-all-know-what hit. Hopefully they’ll do something to get a message to American voters before the election in November that involves more than guitarist Tom Morello responding to trolls on social media.

The Beasties came out of hibernation in 2004 with To the 5 Boroughs and were productive right up until Adam Yauch’s cancer diagnosis which forced the cancellation of several 2009 summer shows, including Montreal’s Osheaga Festival. #RIPMCA then, and forever. Who knows if the two entities ever discussed reviving the Rhyme and Reason concept, so here’s to what could have been twenty years ago. No offense to Public Enemy or Cypress Hill – two old skool collectives whose music I have greatly enjoyed at times – Prophets of Rage just didn’t cut it. Although I must say, that night in Toronto they kicked out the jams with Dave Grohl wasn’t all that bad.