In its 13 years of existence, the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival has brought out greats — both old and new to the stage, bridging the intergenerational gap of Hip-Hop. This year proves no different, as festival goers gathered for the Finale Concert held in Brooklyn Bridge Park, July 15. Hosted by Torae and Ralph McDaniels, this year’s concert remained true to the culture in many aspects. There was also a livestream courtesy of TIDAL, where those who were unable to make it could stream it worldwide. From old school to new school and everything in between, all of Hip-Hop’s core elements were represented throughout the Festival’s week-long events.
From top left: Denzil Porter, Kerim The DJ and Malik The Drummer. Bottom left: Oswin Benjamin and DJ Rob Swift
The Finale Concert opened up with Bronx native and winner of the Festival’s Show & Prove competition, Denzil Porter. The rapper brought quite the energy to the stage, engaging with the crowd and started the show on a good note. Followed by Malik The Drummer and Kerim The DJ, who brought the essence of carnival to the mainstage while incorporating dance to their set, all while tying it all to the culture. From there, the crowd heard rhymes from local rapper Oswin Benjamin, who spoke of faith and credited it as a reason why he began rapping. There was also a set from DJ Rob Swift, who kept the crowd’s energy going as the day vibed on.
Concert goers were also treated to a performance by New York City-based duo OSHUN, who also performed at last year’s second stage. Even bringing up their choreographer to the stage to dance along with them. OSHUN’s songs of positivity and self-awareness resonated in the crowd, ending it off with a Black power salute. Not to mention that this year’s second stage at St. Ann’s Warehouse was held down by Brooklyn’s own Soul Summit followed by an additional set by Kerim The DJ.
Bobbito Garcia (left), and DJ Mister Cee (right)
Soon after, Bobbito Garcia, DJ pioneer and half of the legendary Stretch and Bobbito duo, took over the main stage. Garcia graced the crowd with classic sounds all while mixing with 45’s. Even dancing along to the music as it blared over the speakers. The classics kept on coming as DJ Mister Cee’s set was soon underway, igniting the stage with a tribute to ‘90’s Hip-Hop as well as the genre’s Golden Age. The set in itself was the perfect way to set up for the first headliners of the evening, The L.O.X.
As the late afternoon rolled in, The L.O.X. made their way to the stage as the first of the three headliners. Performing music from their latest album, “Filthy America…It’s Beautiful” which dropped last December, plus some of their most popular tracks including “Money, Power, Respect”. Their DJ for the evening, Technique The DJ acted as a ‘Hip-Hop Cinderella’ of sorts, each time signaling a surprise guest with each reference. The first surprise was Smif-N-Wessun, keeping it all the way Brooklyn with “Bucktown”, staying true to the culture. The next surprise guests were Lil’ Cease and Junior M.A.F.I.A., performing classics like “Player’s Anthem”, “Crush On You,” and even had the crowd put two fingers up for Biggie. Ending off on a good note, The L.O.X. kept the crowd going with “We Gon Make It.”
Next was DMX, who many were skeptical of whether or not he was going to perform at the Finale Concert. In a statement released by Executive Director, Wes Jackson, he confirmed that despite what happened, X was still going to come out and perform. And that’s exactly what DMX did, starting off some of his performance by standing on top of two speakers, rapping “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem”. He also encouraged the crowd, reminding them that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel for any situation. Even leading the crowd in prayer and introducing his 15th and youngest child, Exodus. Overall, X brought the energy to the 13th Annual Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, and didn’t miss a beat.
From top left: Rakim, Havoc of Mobb Deep; bottom left: Rakim & Billy Danze of M.O.P., 5ft and Buckshot of Black Moon
Before festival goers had the chance to see Rakim, they rocked out to a Prodigy Tribute by DJ Rob Swift, even getting the crowd to chant “Rest In Peace, Prodigy.” Though that wasn’t all they were treated with. As the God MC took to the stage as the Finale Concert’s closing act, he performed several hits spanning his 30-year career. From hits like “It’s Been A Long Time” and his featured verse on “Addictive”, to classics off of the albums “Follow The Leader” and “Paid In Full”, which just celebrated its 30 year anniversary. But the best part of the performance wasn’t just Rakim, but who he also brought out as his special guest. Marking his first performance since Prodigy’s passing last month, Havoc took to the stage, performing “Shook One’s”, and dedicated “Survival Of The Fittest” to his fallen friend. As fans were both shocked and surprised, they erupted with cheers for the two, because after all, spreading love is the Brooklyn way. As Rakim continued keeping the energy high on stage as well as the crowd, even sitting on the stage rapping “My Melody” as the crowd chanted the lyrics right back. Billy Danze of M.O.P. even graced the stage, as the crowd chanted “Ante Up.” Towards the end, 5ft and Buckshot of Black Moon not only rocked out with the crowd, but also performed “Paid In Full” alongside Rakim, closing out this year’s Festival. All in all, it was definitely not one to be missed, as the Finale was entirely and always will be, for the culture.
For all highlights and recaps for the 13th Annual Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, head on over to bkhiphopfestival.com.
All images courtesy of Photo Rob