By: Dashaun Simmons
There are two things you can always count on at a Hip Hop show from the golden age until now. Someone is going to ask you to throw your hands in the air, and need their microphone turned up. While the former is normally met with a smile and cheers the latter has resulted in many soundman catching bloody lips. Fortunately for whoever did the sound for this show, the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival (BHF) wasn’t that type of party.
The bill of performers for the BHF seemed well thought out this year. The day continued to build with performers from everywhere but Brooklyn for the most part. Artists who hit the scene last year like Diamond District from the DMV and Fashawn from Fresno, CA were good picks for the line up. Diamond District put out a banging traditional boom bap record in 2009 and it was good to see them performing in front of a NY audience (even if most NYers aren’t from here anymore). Fashawn who was a fan of the festival in the past, seemed very happy to perform for this Brooklyn crowd. Not a man to rely on the regular “make some noise” call and response, he performed “The Ecology” off of his ill debut album Boy Meets World. You have to respect a man who decides to spit lyrics you have to listen to amongst this ADD generation.
Keeping the spirit of Detroit alive, rapper/producer Black Milk woke the crowd up. From the moment he stepped on stage, hands were in the air doing their best 12 o’clock, 9 o’clock impression. His production really shined through with local Daru Jones on the drums. You could tell from his performance that Black is a real humble brother, happy to perform for this Brooklyn crowd.
The Duck Down Records 15 Year Anniversary set served to be nothing more than a sample. As the label has a number of acts on their roster their short set felt rushed. It wasn’t until Black Moon took the stage that the crowd realized we have some vets on deck, and decided to show some love again. Flagship artists and Brooklyn residents Smif N Wessun are BHF alumni and love the festival. A fan of what this festival means to the borough, Steele (of Smif N Wessun) was elated to meet a fan from Peru in the crowd.
This festival is getting bigger and attracting people from all over the world. His partner in Tek loves the fact that rappers from all over the country come to his back yard and, help make this a premier festival. That being said the soldier of the day award goes to New Orleans rapper Curren$y who was the only set to get fully rained on. For performing through it we salute you.
Mixtape DJ J. Period put together his annual live mixtape this time, featuring Group Home, Masta Ace and Nice and Smooth performing together (which is rare). I knew we were in for a treat when as soon as the first song dropped Smooth B started the Greg Nice dance. Unfortunately, Smooth B was more like Whisper B for most of their performance. While hindered with sub par sound, the group still put the audience on tilt with their energy. Greg Nice is an old school showman who put the younger cats to shame. He even walked through the crowd during Guru’s verse of Dywck. (DJ Premier joining them on stage was an extra blessing) Thanks to J. Period for making that happen.
The crowd was very peaceful. The only time someone was close to being booed was during the performance of the bathroom hit “I like ya ma.” I don’t know whose uncle the performer was but he really did test the crowd’s patience. Dude seemed like he was the 6th member of the Furious Five who never got to perform, and this was his shot.
The segment rapped up with a mini tribute to Guru leading from Nice and Smooth finishing with Pete Rock and CL Smooth. The BHF is a place where miracles happen. CL Smooth took time from his murderous barbershop in Mount Vernon to perform T.R.O.Y with his off again on again partner Pete Rock.
De La Soul, who is known for putting on an amazing show, fell slightly short of that, but not due to lack of effort. The fact is most people couldn’t hear Posdunos for the majority of the show. (Sound Bwoy Burreill) However the show must go on and honestly with a DJ as loud as Maceo, who needs a third microphone. In their sixth year the Brooklyn Bodega continues to pull off a major win under the Brooklyn Bridge. With a few rough edges eliminated the future looks bright for this event. Let’s just hope the changing face of Brooklyn appreciates it.
Photo Credit: Shino Yanagawa/Fusicology/Brooklyn Bodega (all except for last 3 photos: Photo Credit: Sandy Yap/Fusicology/Brooklyn Bodega)