Brooklyn HipHop Festival Recap

The

Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival has always prided itself on showcasing new

and established artists during its highly anticipated main performance

day. This year was no different, as thousands of Hip-Hop fans swarmed

Empire-Fulton State Park to witness performances from 88-Keys, Mickey

Factz, Blu & Exile, DJ Premier, Buckshot, and KRS-One.

                The

first well received stage show came from West Coast standouts Blu &

Exile, who worked hard to invigorate the crowd out if its 90 degree

heat induced stupor. The smart audience was familiar with the group’s

critically acclaimed Below the Heavens, and happily sung along to “No Greater Love” and “Dancing in the Rain.”

Despite

fumbling over a few lines due to sound mixups, Blu still won over the

crowd with his genuine, introspective lyrics and energetic presence he

brought to the stage.

Due

to time constraints, legendary producer DJ Premier found his set

confined to a mere 15 minutes. Still, the greats have always been adept

at improvising, and Premier instinctively knew which tracks would

maximize his reception.

 “Ohhs”

of nostalgic recognition resonated throughout the park when Premier

played Biggie’s “Unbelievable.” The trip down memory lane continued as

the backbone of Gang Starr blew through his Illmatic standouts “NY

State of Mind” and Represent.”

 “Not Nas!” Premier bellowed over his mic. “This is Nasty Nas!”

Even with the short set, Premier was not content with passive bystanders, especially in Brooklyn.

“Let

me ask y’all something; do y’all really love Hip-Hop music?” said a

flabbergasted Premier after a weak reception to the singing intro of

Group Home’s “Supa Star.” “But do you respect it, though? There’s a

difference between listening to it and respecting it. You can listen to

it all day and be a clown. So if you love Hip-Hop help me sing this!”

And

with that declaration, Premier had officially given BK permission to

wild out as he sequenced into Gang Starr’s “Full Clip.” With thousands

of hand signal L’s raised in remembrance of fallen Harlem MC Big L,

Premier had once again showed the DJ will always be an integral part of

Hip-Hop culture..

Brooklyn

native and Boot Camp Clik leader Buckshot was up next. With the serene

Brooklyn Bridge as his backdrop, Buckshot was right at home. His

energetic and partial acapella performance of “No Comparison” began to

slowly build up the crowd as he transitioned to the timeless boom-bap

of the original “Crooklyn.” The quick punch of successive classic

tracks worked well to Buckshot’s advantage, and by the end of the song

the crowd was thoroughly engrossed in his performance.

Seeking

to build on his leverage, Buckshot continued the assault with the

sinister “How Many MC’s,” “Buck ‘Em Down Remix,” and the sprawling,

Barry White assisted rhythms of the “I Got Cha Opin Remix.” With the

latter, one of the Black Moon’s most recognizable remixes, the

thousands of fans in attendance engaged in a seamless call and response

in accordance with the hook’s declaration to “duck down!”

With

most of the classic songs accounted for, there was one song left for

Buckshot to perform; the seminal debut single “Who Got Da Props?”

Testing the “smartness” of the crowd, Buckshot’s DJ played the intro of

the sample, Ronnie Law’s enchanting “Tidal Wave,” before dropping the

1993 upgrade. The front area was littered with numerous fans flailing

their arms and head nodding, and one could visualize them wearing the

JanSport backpacks of the bygone era.

After

a great cutting intro by DJ JS-1, KRS stormed the stage with an

interpolation of “Stop the Violence” over Jeremy Harding’s

Playground/Zim Zimma riddim. Easily controlling the crowd, the Bronx

veteran went straight for the jugular with “The Bridge Is Over” and

“MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know.”

Sound

problems and dwindling time were a non-issue for the Blastmaster, as he

took the opportunity to freestyle over several beats: Black Rob’s

“Whoa,” 50’s “Back Down,” and B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya?” The Teacher’s

improvisations were so proficient that he had to admonish his DJ to

keep up, as Kris requested a new beat to drop every fourth bar.

Before

leaving KRS also took a moment to get political, as he endorsed Kevin

Powell’s bid for the Congressional House seat in New York’s 10th District, and cautioned all in attendance to understand their voting rights before making a selection in this year’s election.

Brooklyn’s

mantra since the 80’s has been that they “keep on taking it.” And this

day, the borough lived up to it, as the BK Festival once again took

Hip-Hop to a higher level.

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