Buzzed Bands Podcast, Ep. 2 w/ Cold Blood Club

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival

Please welcome Bryan to the Ski Club. For his first post he covered the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival. Here goes:

The Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival at the Tobacco Factory in Brooklyn on Saturday wasn’t a last ditch effort to save hip hop. If anything, it was the perfect opportunity to show every skeptic that the music is thriving; it walked a fine line to acknowledging that, by saying if we can look back, there’s a good chance we can see the future, too.

I got to the show a little late, so I missed the first groups of Panacea and The Strange Fruit Project, but by all accounts they did their thing. The first act I caught was The Procussions from the Rawkus Records stable, once the be-all and end all for the backpacking set and label behind the super-group Black Star’s [Mos Def and Talib Kweli] rise to fame.

I actually first heard of The Procussions on a trip through Colorado two years ago: a mom and pop record shop with a homegrown artists category had their “…As Iron Sharpens Iron” at the front - dope album, a little rough around the edges, but enjoyable nonetheless. When I saw them this time though, they looked and sounded like pros [bad and unintended pun], an encouraging sign for a group that’s being hailed as the ones to bring Rawkus back to the top. Their deliveries were on point, albeit a little sharp from a bad mix, and the energy was up their entire set.

Brooklyn’s own Maya Azucena followed. Mostly a crooner, she rocked with a live band and definitely did her thing with a couple mid-tempo joints that had just about everyone in the audience nodding. Given some deserving props by the Village Voice and the NY Post (“a towering voice which has echoes of Chaka Kahn and Roberta Flack”], she was entertaining, but I thought the performance got a little sloppy in areas. Maybe the back and forth with the other singers and emcees… it could have been the sound system acting up, too. Sound issues were actually an unfortunate theme throughout the show.

A hype set by special unbilled guest Craig G was ruined because his partner’s mic wasn’t on and by the looks of it, took him from hype to angry. Shouts to Talib Kweli for popping out of nowhere during Craig’s set, though [maybe next year 40 minutes of Black Star???], as well as Sean Price and Buckshot from Boot Camp for coming through. The crowd seemed to have bouts of what I’ll call sluggishness through the show, and although Craig’s set reeked of old-school flavor, something about it seemed a little off. I think he sounded too angry, but I’d never seen him before outside of some battle shit on DVD, that could just be his style.

Of the top billed stars, three out of the four delivered. I should probably count Sleepy Brown in there and make it five stars, but his performance, while exciting, was really laid back and relegated to mostly him doing snippets of songs he laced with his dungeon family [Outkast, Organized Noise, “I Like the Way You Move,” “Can’t Wait” etc.]. He did a few songs for the ladies, but I think the crowd was hungrier for the kind of energy that resonates with an emcee rhyming rather than a slick dood like Sleepy singing.

Rhymefest was on last year’s bill and he definitely did not disappoint. I’d been hearing about him for awhile and was never really sold on his voice and delivery till I heard him rhyme. Fest definitely did some Chi-city shit, dipping, sliding and stepping through his set, not too mention lacing the illest freestyle of the day, some shit about [and I’m paraphrasing] “jumping into the crowd next to a white girl with a black girls’ ass and holding [my] own poster” – as he was doing each thing he mentioned. Fucking insanely good live performer.

I was disappointed the other young dude, Lupe Fiasco, billed as an emcee to watch didn’t come off as crazy. On tape, son is crazy... his rhyme schemes and layered punchlines "brown nosing like alf" have you constantly listening close, but live something about it didn't translate [tho "Kick Push" is gonna be a fucking classic]. In all fairness, though, his and Sleepy Browns’ style seemed not to mesh with the vibe the crowd was looking for whereas Fest’s did. While Fest was on some just rhyme shit, Lupe had a more gangster edge to him; the acapella he dropped was dope, but it had elements of the money/cash/hos/drugs theme that people came to escape from that I think lost him points.

For me, the highlight of the festival was two-fold. I got to see the headliner Big Daddy Kane, a mic LEGEND without question, AND I got to czec CL Smooth who I’ve always heard was incredible live. Some people might kill me for this, but I think CL stole the show. Kane had some great moments and his last song “Ain’t No Half Steppin” ranks among the craziest I’ve ever seen a crowd, and his tribute to hip hop greats who’ve passed [“A Moment of Noise”] was a dope way to celebrate those who’ve left this world and hip hop behind.

But CL just crushed the show with this ridiculous look on his face, kind of a smirk, kind of in disgust that he had to remind us he was dope, and kind of a smile cuz he knew that WE all knew he was dope to begin with. But holy shit, his rendition of “They Reminisce Over You – T.R.O.Y.” was jus CRAZY. The flow… it’s still beautiful. Granted after 14 years, it oughtta be, but still. The dude was relentless.

I think I was in the minority though, because everyone was basically hyped out of their minds about Kane’s performance. He talked with the crowd about how you have to respect the past in order to move forward and he was no doubt the guy performing last night was the kind that, in his heyday, elevated him to his now revered status. The guy just oozed charisma.

Aside from the shitty weather and a few sound problems, the show was seriously off the fucking cliff. There’s something about the energy at hip hop show that nothing else can duplicate, at least for me. Everything is clear, the vibe is crazy. Daps to Brooklyn Bodega for organizing it, czec them out: Brooklyn Brewery was also on hand for liquid fuel.

Bottom-line, anyone who wasn’t there, missed the fuck out. When you can hear the bass 5 blocks away, you know you’re in the right spot. For a purist, it was further proof that when the time is right, hip hop as a music will find it’s way back from what it is now to what it was then by embracing all it can and more importantly, SHOULD, become. Till then, we’ll reminisce over H.E.R.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival just went down and one lucky student had the chance to interview Sleepy Brown, The Procussions, Strange Fruit, Lupe Fiasco, Rhymefest, AND Big Daddy Kane. There is a video of all the interviews at

Related Posts with Thumbnails