A Running Diary of Hip-Hop Superfest Rock the Bells

The exquisite joys of a sunny Sunday afternoon on the LIRR, Mos Def's basketball uniform, and De La Soul's late-'80s nostalgia

9:48 p.m. But it's fascinating, actually, to hear such an overwrought beast tear into "One Love," "If I Ruled the World," etc.—no need to merely sample "In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida" this way, right? Plus the man himself is in fine narcissistic/messianic form, thanking us for gifting him a No. 1 album and advocating that we kick Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to the curb and replace them with . . . himself. The guy has an entire song about Obama and doesn't even mention him.

10:15 p.m. Jay-Z. "Black Republicans." Mass hysteria.

10:51 p.m. Q-Tip's warm-up set features a bass solo, which you may find instructive.

Q-Tip practices  his bird calls.
David Atlas
Q-Tip practices his bird calls.

11:15 p.m. We are resistant, inexplicably, to the charms of the Tribe Called Quest reunion until "Bonita Applebaum" and "Electric Relaxation," during which the ramparts fall, hard—they all look weathered, sure, but the sultry sweetness and easy charm with which they play off each other remains, an echo of the camaraderie that made Meth and Red so exhilarating. Busta Rhymes leaps out for "Scenario," busting a huge grin before nearly convulsing with adrenaline: He screams "Check the rhiiiiiime" as the next song begins and goads crowd and performers alike to new heights of intensity. It's the apex of the masterful, respectful, confident but not violently megalomaniacal age of New York hip-hop that this whole day has been constructed to make us revere. And we do revere it, an Award Tour we're all on together now, too blissed out to even dream of shooting or slapping anyone, getting deep with it deep into the Long Island night.

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