The Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival represents a new peaceful Brooklyn. A gentrified Brooklyn, which still finds time to pay respect to the music which made the poppers pop, and the breakers break. Q-Tip being an artist who got his start in the late 80s, is still putting out music and being well received seemed like the perfect headliner for this event. While the event was not perfect (long breaks between acts, Q-Tip almost pulling out before the show even happened…etc.) this event was still something to be admired.
The main day performance in DUMBO drew in a huge crowd. People from all over the world came together to see hip hop represented in every form. The DJ was represented with legends like Ali Shaheed Muhammed and Marley Marl playing for the people. Stars of hip hop past like Lords of The Underground and hometown favorites MOP took the stage (although Lords were on the 2nd stage). Red Bull sponsored an area for B-boys to try out their latest power moves on some linoleum. The graffiti battle was going down while independent acts like Eternia, Diamond District, Random Axe and Homeboy Sandman killed the main stage. Fusicology got the chance to speak with Homeboy Sandman about his take on the BHF crowd. In his words, “The BHF crowd loves hip hop, which is rare nowadays. These people decide what they like on their own. The people that don’t know the records here, you feel their receptiveness.”
If there was one complaint the concertgoers had, it was the set times. The line up for Saturday’s performances was nothing but stellar, but these stars were given no more than 10 minutes to shine. The disappointment in the short sets was most apparent when West Coast rising star Kendrick Lamar took the stage. His core fans rapped along to every word of She Needs Me. After three songs he was done and the boos went wild. Even groups like Brooklyn’s own MOP was forced to wreak havoc within a three-song window. But when your opening song is Cold As Ice, your middle song is How About Some Hardcore and your finisher Ante Up, that might be enough.
By the time Q-Tip took the stage the energy in the place was low. He was preceded by a huge gap with no performances, which left the audience limp. The beginning of his set struggled to gain momentum but it was the support of his friends like Black Thought from the Roots, Monie Love (who killed Monie in the Middle) and Busta Rhymes that pushed the show into overdrive. With Q-Tip being the master showman, he knew exactly what to do to push the show into the stuff of legend. He brought out his friend and peer Kanye West. This humble festival born from the desire of Wes Jackson (and his Bodega team) managed to pull rap’s superstar of the moment down to touch the people. As Ye and Tip performed Award Tour it seemed as if history was taking place. Tip ended the show getting the people in and outside of the venue to chant “Power” as he left the stage. If there is one word to describe the whole event, powerful would be it. How in the hell is Wes gonna top this next year?
Free iTunes Download! 10 Songs from Past & Present Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival Artists – including KRS-One, Smif-n-Wessun, Talib Kweli, Random Axe and more.
WORDS: Dashaun Simmons @13rose
PHOTO: c/o Joe Conzo