The 12-annual Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival concert turned New York City out on Saturday (July 16) afternoon. Rappers Rapsody, Talib Kweli, Fabolous and the festival’s headliner, Nas, were all there to give the Big Apple’s largest borough a show to remember.
With Coney Island’s own Torae in charge of hosting duties — and DJ Rob Swift on the turntables — concertgoers were in august company of professional crowd movers and colorful rhyme-slingers.
Under suffocating and disrespectful 90-degree heat, hip-hop fans gathered in the lofty area of Dumbo, directly under the Brooklyn Bridge, for an evening of slick wordplay, inspirational rhymes and BK love.
A little after 2:30 p.m. opening acts Radamiz, of Brooklyn, and New Orleans emcee, Don Flamingo held down the warm-up set with their lively energy. Hip-hop fans of all races continuously filled the venue as the area became more and more packed by the hour. There was an amalgamation of Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest shirts in full force.
As the crowd increased, Rapsody — -dipped in a navy blue skirt and bright red sneakers– graced the stage next with her Jamla boss, 9th Wonder playing DJ. The newest member of Roc Nation won the crowd over with her hard-hitting song “Godzilla,” and the all-too-familiar story of the dire socio-economic hardships that many young blacks are born into on “The Man.” Before exiting the stage, Rapsody lead the crowd in loud chants of #BlackLivesMatter and words that championed women and men alike, making one proud to be bold, beautiful and black.
As the sun disappeared behind gray clouds, the skies opened up with rain, but Flatbush, Brooklyn’s, Talib Kweli still took the stage without hesitation. He delivered oldies like his Nina Simone remake of “Four Women,” “The Blast,” and “Move Something,” among others.
Before ending his set, Talib allowed his hip-hop elders Buckshot, Special Ed, and Masta Ace to unearth a few of their classics. The love and euphoria that emanated among the vets here was magnetic.
Concertgoers witnessed what seemed like a Brooklyn emcee reunion. One didn’t have to be of age when the aforementioned vets were at their apex. We know of their importance by word of mouth, history, their colorful energy, and by the older cats who mouthed every word.
Bed-Stuy’s Fabolous, along with his smooth criminal prestige, graced the stage rocking crisp blue jean shorts, purple Martin Lawrence t-shirt, with the sleeves cut off like he was fresh from a street basketball game, and white and gray Jordan 4’s. The former chipped tooth rapper ran through current hits like “Real Ones,” “Lituation,” and past bangers like “Breathe,” and “Superwoman,” and more.
Keeping the BK love in the air, F.A.B.O. brought out O.G.s Smif-N-Wessun and Lil Fame to the stage for some 90s era nostalgia. Loso also let Brooklyn’s rookie rapper, Dyme-A-Duzin rock the crowd.
However, it was no secret that Brooklyn was the most amped to see the headliner, Nas. Backed by Soul Rebels band, the self-proclaimed God’s Son stormed the stage to “Get Down.” Mr. Jones didn’t let up, after that. He rolled through classics like “N.Y. State of Mind,” “The World Is Yours,” “Memory Lane,” “Life’s a Bitch,” and “Halftime.”
Fans, young and old, gleefully and emotionally mouth every word. For the next hour, it was nothing but excitement, love, social awareness and admiration as Nas spilled through “If I Ruled the World,” “Hate Me Now,” and “It Was Written.”
With perspiration dripping from his face, Nas admitted that some of today’s rap is “weird,” yet he doesn’t hate on the young gods of the culture. With that, Nasir ended his set with “Got Ur Self A Gun,” and “Made You Look.”
Concertgoers mumbled declarations of how Nas has inspired them read, learn, grow, and change with the times, yet keeping ones authenticity. Most importantly, his set was mixed with the intellectual,yet gritty content that fills his discography.