With 9 years of planning and executing the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival to varying results, the good folks at Brooklyn Bodega have seemed to figure out exactly how to run this thing. Time management has long plagued the festival, but in 2013 it was no longer an issue. Instead of booking more acts than they can handle or a headliner that sucked up all of their resources (see last years Busta Rhymes difficulties) performances were evenly divided. Even the layout of the festival was better, with a “vendor village” on one side offering several food, clothing and recreational program options, an elaborate Brooklyn Nets video game and basket ball set up on the other, and a comfortable space in the middle for everyone to enjoy the show. With Uncle Ralph McDaniels and Torae hosting the show everything was in place.
The meat of the show leading up to the headliners was much better this year. Newcomer Dizzy Wright hailing from out west put on a very engaging set. Without knowing his songs you were still forced to move. Hot 97’s own DJ Enuff put it down for one of hip hop’s legendary fallen soldiers MCA of the Beastie Boys. DJ Hurricane who used to spin for the Beasties held down the stage with Enuff to make it official tissue. The tribute was one that I’d like to think Adam would have been proud of. At one point I thought Hurricane might jump into Elbow Room but he keep it about the Beasties and kept it cool. To top it all off the unofficial mayor or Brooklyn Mr. Spike Lee himself touch the stage to discuss the gun violence plaguing the country right now. He didn’t even plug his new movie Oldboy until later on in the show. Spike seems determined to make a change in the community.
The first headliner was the Funk Doctor Spot himself Redman. You might wonder why Redman who is well known for tearing down a stage would go first but here’s the dilemma. There is no way Redman would let his mentors EPMD open for him, and there is no way that a high priced new comer like Pusha T would work being sandwiched in between the Hit Squad. So Redman goes first and he of course destroys the stage. He does a few (and I really mean a few) new songs and goes right into his bread and butter. Tonights The Night and Time 4 Sum Aksion almost got someone punched in the face (as it should). The only bad part of Red’s set was that when a fan asked him to do something off his Dare Iz A Darkside album his only reply was “Man I don’t even remember that album.” It’s unfortunate because Can’t Wait is one of his best songs. But Redman always being one to keep it in the fam, brings out DoItAll from Lords Of The Underground (who actually introduced Red to EPMD) for the classic Chief Rocka. Jersey represented lovely.
EPMD come out to the classic It’s My Thang and rock the crowd old school style. You gotta love Erick Sermon and Parish Smith. They are graduates from the rap class of 88 and still here to tell the tale. However they are starting to show signs of wear and tear. Erick having several health issues is starting to lose his flair. Their major hits had so much energy that at times it hard to watch them struggle through and just finish most after half of the song. DJ Scratch at this point is the strongest draw of the group with his amazing scratching and tricks of the trade.
The headliner was G.O.O.D Music artist, one half of the Virginia rap group Clipse, spokesperson for the neighborhood dope boy Pusha T. Pusha has been building his solo career for a few years now with mixtape releases and numerous guest features. So of course his stage show is full of guest features and mixtape songs. He gets through his very strong Clipse catalog quick before hitting the new swagged out songs like Millions and Doesn’t Matter. For most of his set the audience seemed to be in a trance just amazed that Pusha was actually there. He seemed pleased with the admiration and visibly showed his appreciation for the crowd.
The Festival finished on time, with no violence (not that there ever is any) and relatively good weather (the rain was faint and mostly during the middle of the show). With number 10 on deck you have to wonder what Brooklyn Bodega has in store. Will they stock up the line up like they did the year Q-Tip headlined or will they go top heavy for a big Brooklyn name to round off 10 years on the set? Whichever route they choose I’m sure it will be dope.