Live: De La Soul, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, And DJ Premier Wax Gloriously Nostalgic At The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival


Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Saturday, July 10

Fully equipped with chicken skewers and beer, a DJ tent, live street-art exhibitions, custom-made jewelry, and graffiti-styled T-shirts and hats for sale, the 2010 Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival was a giant barbeque and flea market jumbled up into a Brooklyn-centric, old-school-hip-hop-celebrating rainy hot mess. And I mean that in the best way possible.

It was hot, muggy, and rainy all at the same time, but the vibe beneath the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday afternoon was too real to be ignored, people of all races and ages present, the usual outdoor-festival bandwagon-stragglers nowhere to be seen. Instead, a wet and muddy audience vibed to out-of-towners like Diamond District, Black Milk, and Dice Raw; Currensy, my personal favorite of the day, killed it with a live band fleshing out tracks from his new album, Pilot Talk. Brooklyn’s own J. Period added a 30-minute DJ set based entirely on late-’80s/early-’90s classics from such luminaries as the Cold Crush 4 and Marley Marl. DJ Premier made a surprise appearance during Nice & Smooth’s rendition of Gang Star’s “DWYCK”; Smooth asked the audience to point to the sky and rhyme along during Guru’s famous verse.

Later, Pete Rock and CL Smooth had the crowd going absolutely crazy with “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” and “Straighten It Out” during their first performance together in NYC in nine years, but nothing could approach the epic-ness of De La Soul. The festival headliners took the stage around 7 p.m.; what followed was honestly something I can only describe as what it feels like to chug five vodka-and-Red-Bull cocktails in a row. (Unfortunately. I know.) The music got louder and the crowd got wilder as the iconic trio ran through hits from throughout their catalog; “Potholes In My Lawn” was incredible to see live, and even the security guards outside the venue couldn’t help but dance along. The now-40-year-olds were performing songs they recorded as young men, while everyone from 14-year-old boys to 21-year-old girls (that’d be me) were rapping along. And at the risk of sounding too melodramatic, it was a pretty beautiful moment.