Without a doubt, Brooklyn is one of New York’s most renowned boroughs. Furthermore, it is the home to a league of emcees who are known to be the greatest of the Hip-Hop genre’s time, Big Daddy Kane, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z to name a few. Ever since the era of its inception, Brooklyn has been heralded as a premiere Hip-Hop location. As Hip-Hop takes its official place as the dominating force of worldwide music culture, it soars towards continuity. The only way for a culture to thrive is to maintain its foundation and cultivate its future. The folks over at Brooklyn Bodega have made this their duty.
Over the past 12 years, the Brooklyn Bodega has hosted the official Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival. What started off as just a BBQ in the park transformed into a yearly celebration that acknowledges the positive manifestations of Hip-Hop culture. Wes Jackson, founder of the festival understands the importance of having unity in hip-hop. Jackson tells The Source that bridging the generational gap has “always been the plan from day one.”
Throughout the years, the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival has combined classic hip-hop acts with aspiring talents along the lineup and overall spearheading an experience that will strike nostalgia and shadow enlightenment. According to Jackson, the goal was to headline an act whose content was in sync with the nature of modern-day discussions. “In these days with straight up Nazis and confederate flags waving around, I was like Black Star!,” said Jackson. “Black Liberation, celebration, and respect of Black women, self-determination, Black business, all of that stuff. I was like this is what raised me.”
The 14th annual Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival took place all of last week (July 9-14) with Black Star (Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey) and Pharoahe Monch, two classic hip-hop artists, as headliners of the homecoming concert. Hosted by Ralph McDaniels and Torae, the masses were culturally driven into the purest hip-hop melodies of the times spanning from the early ’80s thanks to the works of DJ Mister Cee all the way into the prevailing millennial femcee like Flatbush’s own Latasha, who displayed grand respect to the emcee element during her performance on Sunday.
Statik Selektah kicked off the classic hip-hop phase by whipping through ’90s bangers and giving shout-outs to those resting in power with a soul kicking blend of their own.
Skyzoo, who blatantly regards himself as being “from the old Brooklyn,” spewed hitters from his new album, In Celebration of Us. Oozing with strict jazz appeal, the Brooklyn native had trumpeter Sean Taylor for the groove.
Pharoahe Monch, one of the most individually marked lyricists, ran the masses through an array of jams while hoarding a surprise. Monch took it back to Organized Konfusion days with the presence of Prince Po dropping an outburst of nostalgia.
The grounds of Brooklyn Bridge Park crumbled a squeeze once Black Star hit the stage. Masters of the lyrical groove, Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) grace the stage and run rampant through their most prolific tracks, “Definition,” “Respiration,” Bey’s “UMI Says,” and Kweli’s “Get By.” The duo’s musical persona transforms into a live reality, as the two showcase a deeply synced bond that is joined with the context of pure enlightenment.
The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival aims to become a staple in the collective notion to bridge the generational gap found in modern day hip-hop culture. With the success of the fest, Wes Jackson does not give himself all the props, but highly commends who he describes as the “Justice League.” Without a secure band of empowered minds, who all share a passion for the wellness of Hip-Hop, cultural unity may become a faint reality. “Stop giving me the props. ‘I did this, I did this,'” he said. “I didn’t build no stage, I didn’t DJ nothing, I didn’t move these barricades, its all of us. Its a bunch of superheroes. Justice League.”