Hip-hop was born in the Bronx, but it was raised in Brooklyn. That probably isn’t how the story goes, but that’s how it felt at Celebrate Brooklyn’s latest show. Filling Prospect Park’s Bandshell to capacity, New Yorkers came out en masse to celebrate both Brooklyn and hip-hop in the form of Ghostface Killah. Though Ghostface hails from Staten Island, Brooklyn treated him like one of their own, happily chanting lyrics, enjoying jokes and swaying without prompt.
Of course, Tony Starks wasn’t the only emcee to get some Brooklyn love. Before the appearance of the Shaolin’s finest, the stage was occupied by a host of hip-hop legends and legends-to-be.
The show started with a brief set from Farrah Burns, a young and laidback emcee from Brooklyn. She performed merely two songs, but the crowd was receptive and energized. That energy was a bit diffused when Astro, a prodigious kid from Brooklyn and former X-Factor contestant, rocked the stage. Lean and fifteen, the crowd was immediately skeptical of his ability to perform. Diving right into a lyrical landslide that left the crowd stunned, Astro immediately confronted that skepticism and ended all speculation. There was no doubt about it: this kid could spit.
Rah Digga followed with a set that resuscitated the slightly weary crowd. Spitting classics as well as songs from her album Classic, Digga showed her experience. Swaying, sweating and even jumping, Brooklyn showed her immense love and respect. Old school hip-hop definitely still has an audience.
This audience was enthralled when Kid Capri hit the stage during an intermission and asked, “Do y’all want me to play that new shit? Or do y’all want that old shit?” The crowd unequivocally demanded the latter. Kid Capri obliged, packing 15 years of legendary hip-hop into a 15 minute jam session that had the crowd damn near ready to swag surf.
Prodigy followed Kid Capri, but his performance was mired by a lack of energy and a crowd that wanted nothing less than Ghostface. After about 45 minutes, Prodigy and his stage cronies exited rather uneventfully.
Ten minutes later, the crowd got what it came for: Tony Starks in the flesh. Accompanied by fellow Wu affiliate Cappadonna, Ghostface waltzed onto the stage with his typical, avuncular facial expression: a strange mixture of confusion, swagger, mockery and distrust. The set began with “Ice Cream,” Raekwon’s classic song featuring Ghost and Cappadonna. Though the song choice was slightly mocking considering the heat of the night, the crowd didn’t care. Wu-Tang ice cream beats real ice cream any day. The crowd’s enthusiasm reached unprecedented levels as Ghost started to run through his extensive catalog. From his own joints “We Made It” and “Assassination Day” to Wu classics like “C.R.E.A.M.” and “Protect Ya Neck,” Pretty Tone rocked the mic and thrilled the crowd. Thirty minutes into the set, Sheek Louch made a brief cameo and performed his verse from “We Are the Streets.” He also endorsed the much-anticipated Wu Block album, due out sometime before the end of the year.
Ghostface ended the set with “Cherchez LaGhost,” one of his more recent tracks. He seemed reluctant to end the set, but apparently his performance was capped at 45 minutes. The crowd was a bit surprised, but there were no riots or boos. It was a free concert, after all. Before bidding the crowd adieu, Ghost asked everyone to throw up a peace sign and shout “Peace!” in unison. It was a strange request, but Brooklyn obliged, ending the event and exiting the park without incident. The celebration was over, for now.
Photos by Stephen Kearse
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