The first two shows of Summerstage 2013 took place in Red Hook Park over the last two nights and, if they're any sign of what's to come for the rest of the festival, New York is in for one hell of a summer. The Underachievers and Flatbush Zombies opened the year Tuesday night with a concert that was beyond hype. Literally, they shut the show down for about 20 minutes in order to calm down the crowd. Security was a little under-prepared for the ruckus that the Beat Coast movement brought to the affair. The barrier between the crowd and the stage was repeatedly pushed against and jumped over. Read: the peoples love this shit.
The Underachievers, the duo comprised of Issa Dash and AK, took the stage first and absolutely killed it. They did stuff mainly off their Indigoism mixtape from earlier this year and looked like MC veterans on stage. Keeping the crowd fully engaged and hype while delivering rapid-fire rhymes is something that most rappers find difficult, if not impossible, yet Dash and AK did it with ease. It didn't hurt that there was a large contingent of Flatbush peoples in the audience who chanted the neighborhood's name throughout both sets.
Up next was the Flatbush Zombies, the trio of Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice and Erik Arc Elliot, whose popularity has seen a steady climb since the release of their much celebrated D.R.U.G.S. mixtape and their video for "Thug Waffle". These dudes are unique, to say the least. Taking the psychedelic, weed infected aspects of the rest of the Beast Coast movement to its extreme, the Zombies are the new wave of hip hop. To quote from Menace II Society, they are America's worst nightmare: young, black and don't give a fuck. Their song "Bath Salts", with which they ended, sums up their place in today's rap world.
You know why Summerstage is so great, I mean besides the fact that it's free? Because the very next night at the same location, they had the God MC himself, Rakim, in full effect. In two nights, Summerstage practically encompassed the entirety of hip hop, from the new generation to the first truly remarkable lyricist of them all.
Rakim needs no introduction, he is the reason your favorite rapper started rapping, sounds the way he does, etc. He laid out the blueprint for all great MC's that followed. Although the crowd was little older, i.e. less weed smoke in the air, no crowd surfing, the love for Rakim was still there. Watching a legend on stage can sometimes place one in a predicament, (Am I appreciating this enough? I gotta pee but, shit, Rakim is doing "Don't Sweat the Technique". How do I brag enough to my friends for missing this?) but Rakim is so good at what he does, you almost forget you're watching the greatest rapper of all time.
He did everything you would want him to do, from "Microphone Fiend" to "I'm Rated R" to "Paid In Full", basically, no one left feeling like they were cheated. When someone of the stature of Rakim does a show in BK, he's bound to attract other MC's, as any rapper worth his weight in this game is a huge fan of his, and last night was no exception. The show ended with some of NYC's biggest heavyweights taking the stage to rip the mic next to their idol.
Sadat X came out and did "Punks Jump Up", Styles P came out and repeatedly showed his admiration for Rakim, Brooklyn legend Rock of Heltah Skeltah hit the stage to do a verse off "Operation Lockdown". Even the son of the Ol' Dirty Bastard, Young Dirty Bastard, stepped out to rap "Shimmy Shimmy Ya." The Rockness Monstah summed up the Rakim's impact on the game in one line: "If you like the way I rap, blame this man [Rakim] right here."
Overall, the first two nights of Summerstage made it difficult for all subsequent shows to be as good. Check out some more photos from the two shows below.