Final Day at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival: Busta Rhymes gives a lesson in hip-hop legacy
Surrounded by glistening water and a serene view, it’s hard to believe the 8th Annual Brooklyn Bodega Hip-Hop Festival (BHF) is actually being held in Brooklyn, right in the concrete jungle that is New York. But where the idyllic waterfront of Pier 3 could fool festival-goers, blaring sound systems and a crowd full of baseball caps confirm this is indeed (in the words of the stage hype man) ‘Brooooklyn.’
BHF’s Final Day show celebrates all aspects of hip-hop culture; where there are performances from budding rappers, there’s also soul food, literature and (loose-fitting) clothing stands — not a single pair of skinny jeans is in sight. Families, youngsters and hip-hop veterans pour out to soak up all day’s festivities, many with deckchairs and towels laid out for added comfort. And with a variety of shows catered to all ages (early afternoon reserved for children activities before stage performances from 3-8pm), the festival is one of few hip-hop events suitable for the whole family. Which is pretty important, considering most of the genre’s initial fans are now family men and women, keen to teach their offspring about the music of their generation.
With first-hand knowledge of hip-hop’s development throughout the years, this particular crowd are all experts in their own right. They’re much like a discerning parent, sceptical of a new rapper in the same way a father is towards his daughter’s new boyfriend, up until he has proved himself. But for the selection of rap hopefuls performing on final day, the harshness of the Brooklyn crowd is the best form of constructive criticism they could ever receive. If Brooklyn likey, they clap their hands and bop their heads in response to show it. And if they no likey, well, dead-pan stares at the stage should force you right back to that pen and pad, redrafting those rhymes. Sacramento, California, rapper Chuuwee alongside female lyricist Dutch Rebelle, and trilingual Hebrew/Spanish/English rapper Kosha Dilla all earn that BK seal of approval. And the others? Well, let’s just say there’s always room for improvement.
But there is one main reason why we are all here. With 20 years of music behind him, Busta Rhymes headlining the Brooklyn Hip-Hop festival is a bit of a big deal. Since bursting onto the rap scene with early Nineties collective Leaders of the New School, Busta has undoubtedly perfected his craft. His tight, super-quick flow combined with the use of Jamaican patois slang has earned him enough stripes to collaborate with the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Mary J. Blige, Janet Jackson and the late Notorious B.I.G, to name a few. And although he has never won a single Grammy Award, Busta Rhymes has been nominated on eleven occasions, proving his career has the longevity factor that is often rare in the hip-hop scene. He’s one of the select few still living to rap his tale.
Raised in Flatbush, the Caribbean melting Dutch pot of Brooklyn, Busta Rhymes knows this borough well. He’s fully aware Brooklyn expects him to put on a memorable show — so he does. Performing nearly all of his most popular tracks, from ‘Woo Hah! Got You All in Check’ and ‘Gimme Some More’ to ‘Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See’ and ‘Dangerous’, Busta pulls out all the stops; there’s “Too many hits, not enough time,” he gloats. And if his energetic performance isn’t enough to impress, an emotional stage reunion with his first musical family, the aforementioned Leaders of The New School, as well as A Tribe Called Quest, and much to the delight of the audience, hip-hop’s legendary storyteller, Slick Rick, certainly surpasses the crowd’s expectations.
True to his cheeky, rebellious, nature Busta Rhymes ignores the rules, insisting he isn’t departing the stage, “Not even if they turn my mother f***ing mic off!” Eventually, ‘they’ — Brooklyn Pier park owners – do, but that doesn’t stop the audience from rapping along to a miming Busta, belting out lyrics on his behalf.
Busta may well have approached 40 this year, but his confident, boisterous style is still working in his favour. The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival is proof he, and the next generation of rappers to have a 20 year legacy, have just the right platform the exert all of their fiery energy. The only thing missing from the show? Busta Rhymes’ signature dreadlocks — ‘Woo Hah!’ isn’t quite the same without them.
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Video courtesy of All HipHop TVTagged in: 2012, BHF, Brooklyn, Busta Rhymes, hip hop, new york, rap
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