After a twenty-plus year tenure in Hip-Hop, not many artists have the individual star power as well as strong relationships, countless hits and more to put on a celebrity-studded show like Busta Rhymes.
“The Dragon” along with his Conglomerate crew and an endless list of power players took over Newark’s Prudential Center, selling out its 18,000 capacity. Buss-A-Bus made sure the Tri-State Area rounded out the year with a live show that most in attendance rated better than event sponsor Hot 97’s annual Summer Jam.
As people were still rushing in the doors, DJ Funkmaster Flex opened up the show with a fiery set preparing for Busta’s arrival. In his regular yet always regal form, Buss emerged from behind the stage with a theatrical replica of the Coming To America wedding, complete with the outfits, dancers and “Put Your Hands (Where My Eyes Can See)” theme music. He immediately warmed up the crowd with a few remixes, bringing out M.O.P. to the “Ante Up” remix and his long-time Brooklyn hypeman Spliff Star, along with reggae sensation Sean Paul for his “Make It Clap” remix. A medley of Busta’s close friends then touched the stage, including Junior Reid (“One Blood”), The Flip Squad, Capone N Noreaga, French Montana and Mariah Carey. At this point of the show, the momentum was just beginning to build.
OT Genasis, the breakout star from Busta’s Conglomerate Records label, came out to perform his debut smash “Coco,” followed up by the Wu Tang Clan‘s Method Man and Raekwon, who pulled out “C.R.E.A.M.” for their fans. Meth brought out his atomic twin from Newark, Redman, and the dynamic duo definitely put on, performing a host of their hits together. Redman broke off into his single “Tonight’s The Night” and by the time Meth reached his premier track “Method Man,” the house was lit. If it could get anymore crazy, Mary J. Blige came out with Meth to rock their Grammy-winning smash “All I Need.” Mary then went into one of the hits from her My Life album, “I Can Love You,” bringing her partner in crime Lil Kim out for her flaming sixteen on that classic.
Once the pandemonium settled, the man of the hour felt it necessary to make an announcement best suitable for the moment. “This is a proud moment for me! I’m happy, ni*ga!” Busta screamed happily to the crowd. “All of these rappers running around here like they’re mad at the f*cking world, but I’m happy right now!”
After Busta took a ‘hood consensus of who was in the building, Naughty By Nature popped in to rep for their hometown with “Uptown Anthem” and “Hip Hop Hooray,” followed up by Paterson’s own Fetty Wap who took control of the crowd seated in a throne. At this point, it was becoming more of a case of who wasn’t there. Rick Ross hit the stage to rep MMG with “I’m A Boss,” followed Lil’ Wayne who rocked with Buss until Diddy hit the stage and tore the house down. A surprise appearance by Busta’s long-time cohorts A Tribe Called Quest closed the show on an absolute high, unapologetic about classic New York Hip-Hop and unapologetic about the 90s era they helped build.
The most important aspect of the night is that it ended in peace without one single incident, something some might have found highly unexpected in the crime-ridden city of Newark. The show, dubbed “Hot 4 The Holidays,” is a very welcome addition to Hip-Hop’s already busy calendar of events.