By Dashaun Simmons
Once upon a time Fort Greene Park was a place where only Five Percenters and people looking for trouble would go. Nowadays thanks to heavy gentrification the park is very diversified and safe. People of all nationalities frequent this big hill of a park, some playing tennis, others playing soccer. For one day in the summer this new multicultural community comes together for an event called the Fort Greene Festival. Its purpose is to celebrate music, food, and most of all, its people. Restaurants from the neighborhood set up as vendors all around the main area, while musicians of all types took the stage (many of them residents) to entertain.
The hosts of the festival, Toure and Rosie Perez, both Brooklyn residents did a better job this year of moving the show along. Toure continuously injected his normal banter of corn on the cob while Rosie kept the mood down to earth and wholesome. She was visibly upset when a few of the performers let loose some words of profanity, which is strictly forbidden at this event (unless you’re the headliner).
The acts on the bill crossed many genres from rock to experimental hip hop, R&B and even punk. One attention grabbing performance came from Detroit’s own songstress Sophia Urista. Wearing nothing but her amazingly styled Afro and a bathing suit from the 1960s, Sophia captivated the audience with her visual presence as well as her vocals. More than a few guys and some women (it was pride weekend) took a couple of steps closer to the stage for her set. Brooklyn’s own Game Rebellion did their normal high-energy performance. Their first song got a mosh pit started to the left of the stage much to the chagrin of some unsuspecting audience members. Luckily no one seemed to get hurt in the controlled melee. Philly’s own Res performed an amazing set showcasing her range as an artist. She did songs from her debut album How I Do alongside newer material from her group with Talib Kweli, Idle Warship and a song or two from her yet to be released EP Re Fried Mac. Rahzel even stopped by for a brief surprise beat-box set, which left folks begging for more. Rosie however was not enthused when he let loose a few curse words. Someone forgot to tell the Godfather of Noise that this wasn’t a regular hip hop event.
Right before the headliner Mos Def took the stage his brother DCQ under the name Medina Green got the crowd to turn straight angry. His set was unfocused and accented by the kind of language that got boos and audible sighs from the crowd. By the time he left they were chanting for Mos. As Brooklyn’s own the mighty Mos took the stage everything went back to being peaceful. He took the whole park on a journey through his mind from numerous tributes to Michael Jackson (it was the 2nd anniversary of his death) to the many energetic records from his last album The Ecstatic. The high point of his set had to be when he performed the classic Umi Says with his mother handing out beautiful flowers from the stage. His performance was playful and full of smiles and truly embodied the spirit of the Fort Green Festival. This is one festival that keeps getting better. Let’s see how they plan to top this next year.