Last night (July 14), 90s hip hop groups Leaders of The New School and A Tribe Called Quest reunited on the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival stage and lit it on fire with a revamped rendition of “Scenario”—a scenario everybody had coveted but nobody expected. The historic spectacle marked the close of the annual week-long Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, and there could have not been a more fitting way to celebrate Brooklyn’s rooted and rich hip-hop culture.
In the festival’s spirit of lining up surprise guests, buzz had spawned weeks leading up to the event of who among headliner Busta Rhyme’s “friends” would be making surprises appearances. And while speculators doubted this year would match the hype of last year’s surprise guests (namely a few little-known artists like Kanye West and Busta Rhymes himself), 2012’s event was more cohesive, centering around Busta’s past collaborations and most memorable collaborations.
Busta wasted d no time to introduce them. At 7PM, a energized Busta Bus hopped on stage and spewed out his excitement: “Don’t this shit make a n*gga wanna” to open his set. After “Pass The Courvoisier” merged into the edgy banger “Ante Up,” rap duo M.O.P. immediately joined Busta on stage as his first surprise guests of the night.
The momentum of surprise guests maintained through the next few tracks, as he invited Duck Down artists Buckshot, Tek and Steele of Smif-N-Wessun on stage to perform hits off their earlier album War Zone. Their appearance was chased with Spliff Star and J-Doe, members of The Conglomerate, a crew founded and fronted by Busta Rhymes.
In the midst of a chain of guest features, Busta takes a moment to pay his respects forward to late legend of production, J Dilla. “Rest in peace, Dilla, this is one of my favorite Dilla beats,” Busta yells into the mic as he begins to rap over “Bounce.”
But it didn’t take long for the Red Hook-native to roll out more surprises. In a move few people anticipated, Slick Rick, garbed in a pink polo with his iconic eye patch to match, jumped on stage siding Busta. The crowd responded in roars of cheers, and preceded to go nuts when the lyricist-storyteller began to spit his respected hit “Children’s Story.”
As Busta’s set neared the end in a true effort to make history—an effort that has taken nearly two decades to conceive—Busta calls out former hip hop bandmates Charlie Brown and Dinco D of Leaders of The New School to perform their 90s staple “Case of the P.T.A.” The rare reunion had already amplified the crowd, so when the DJ spun the bassline of Tribe’s “Scenario,” the history-making night sealed its dopeness.
Appropriately timed, A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip and Phife Dawg came through (yeah, you heard right: Tip and Phife on the same stage) to join Leaders of The New School in the joint performance of the classic “Scenario.” At one point Q-Tip took center stage and howled into his mic, “Brooklyn, what’s the scenario?!” And for most, the answer lies somewhere in the rarity of an LNS reuniting juxtaposed with the sheer shock of Q-Tip and Phife Dawg on the same stage together again (and at one point slinging arms around the other). The scenario made the last night of Brooklyn’s Hip Hop Festival one hell of a memorable visual.