ALL OF THE LIGHTS: Family Day and Main Stage Performances
And finally, the finale. The main day atmosphere was, for the most part, exciting and enjoyable. Favorable weather treated festivalgoers to a delicious summer day in New York City.
Vendors lined multiple areas in the plaza, offering food, music, clothes, knick-knacks, drinks and more. A live graffiti battle and exhibition ran for several hours, as artists displayed their abilities live and in person on giant canvases for the Estria Graffiti Battle (shoutout to BIGDOVES) as well as the Hip Hop USA Sneaker & Blackbook Battle, where sneakers were the canvas.
Local performing arts outlets like Urban Art Beat entertained the onlookers at the adjacent Tobacco Warehouse, while the main stage crowds grew from a few dedicated earlybirds to a packed mob as the day wore on, in anticipation of the main event.
Toure capably held down hosting duties as dynamic artists performed through the day, including Homeboy Sandman, Eternia (who brought out Rah Digga and Tiye Phoenix), Random Axe and hometown hardcore heroes M.O.P.
Then there was Q-Tip. And Monie Love. And Sean Penn. And Black Thought. And Busta Rhymes.
Yes the main day was the main event, and a great one at that. In full retrospect, the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival is not greater than the sum of its parts, it’s great because of the sum of its parts. It is New York’s largest display of hip hop music and culture, and when executed as well as it was this year, is the type of event that you could walk a hip hop non-believer through, and quite possibly change their entire way of thinking.
Granted, the Brooklyn Bodega organization and the Festival itself, are not without flaws. Before, during and after the Festival, we caught wind of stories of disgruntled folks and logistical mistakes made, publicly, privately and through the acknowledging and apologetic tweets of director Wes Jackson himself.
Entrance to the area was delayed, main stage performances were delayed and had to be cut short to make up lost time, drink lines were obscenely long at times, water ended up being an all-too-precious commodity, and there were a couple of scheduled performances that simply did not happen.
A behind-the-scenes ruckus unfolded involving a veteran hip hop crew. A blogger who was denied media credentials aired out their comments on their site.
However, it should not be overlooked how monumentally challenging such a series of events must be to coordinate and execute. It must also be recognized that, as with any grassroots organization which seeks to expand, there is a fine line that must be walked when attempting to traverse a more ‘corporate’ path while staying faithful to the constituents that contributed to the success of years past, when corporate support was only a wish. If the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival can continue to find a way to straddle that line, we can continue to expect great things from them moving forward.
Of course, this year’s finale will be pretty hard to top.
[Click to see our pictures from the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival Main Day]