The 8th annual Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival was similar in some ways to its previous iterations while different in others. Every year the good folks at Brooklyn Bodega put together an open festival that the borough can be proud of. There’s never any act of violence in the vicinity while generations of hip hop heads bop along to the different acts on deck. Every year there is a big headliner and a number of up and comers to fill in the day leading up to the big hurrah. Unfortunately this year the headliner Busta Rhymes seemed to get ALL of the attention…but only a little bit of actual stage time.

At one point it seemed as if the festival might not even happen this year due to funding issues. A large Kickstarter campaign was launched and just like in the movies at the last minute the funding goal was met. The idea was that by pulling together money from the general public, the festival could be kept at it’s normal affordable price of entry.  Sounds like a great way to make the community feel welcome right?  Well being that it was a success, why were people being charged more than 30 dollars at the door for entry?  Where did the money go?

The venue was changed for this year’s event. Normally the festival was held in the D.U.M.B.O part of Brooklyn under the bridge. This year it was down the road settled at the end of Brooklyn Heights with no shade to be found. Previous years also held lineups with up and coming artists like Lupe Fiasco, Kendrick Lamar and Homeboy Sandman. All of these artists now hold down their own shows and have significant followings. The line up this year seemed to be filled with people to just pass the time along until Busta got on stage. There was even a few darts thrown by artist like Joell Ortiz and Sean P about their lack of inclusion at the festival.


When Busta did finally get on stage (around 7:20 knowing this event has a hard 8pm cut off) he ran through his deep catalog of hits. Unfortunately being aware of the time restraints his songs would end after the first verse leaving the crowd thirsty for more.  Day one fans were treated to albums cuts from his first few solo releases like Get High Tonight and Rhymes Galore.  Much was talked about on Twitter and other forms of media about who would be the “friends” part of the Busta Rhymes headline. He did bring out Lil Fame from M.O.P to perform Ante Up with him, which at this point is as much of a Brooklyn anthem as Biggie’s Juicy or Stetsasonic’s Go Stetsa 1. Slick Rick graced the stage with all of his jewelry from 88 still intact to perform Children’s Story. Buckshot and Smif N Wessun also showed up as usual.

At around 7:50 the most anticipated surprise of all came to fruition. Charlie Brown and Dinco D (you know…the D) from Leaders of the New School joined their old partner in rhyme on stage after 15 years of bitter feuding. When the three of them let out the words “It’s just another case of that ole P.T.A” fans old enough to remember went berserk. The energy of that performance could only be topped by what happened next, when Phife and Q-Tip joined the crew for the first time in a LONG time rendition of the classic posse cut Scenario. History was made on this hot summer day. The irony is that right above this year’s venue by the Brooklyn Promenade, LONS broke up on Yo MTV Raps over 15 years ago. It’s great the Bodega could bring them together 2012. Now if they could just inject the festival with a solid line up for performers that represent the best in hip hop and the borough, which the festival gets it’s name from,  at an affordable price they’ll be in good shape.

Words & Photos: Dashaun Simmons @13rose

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