In tribute to Old Dirty Bastard, to catch a plethora of free hip-hop performances, to breathe in an abundance of fresh greenery, to enjoy the beautiful breeze; though any of these reasons could have been used as an excuse to check out Celebrate Brooklyn’s free presentation of Ghostface Killah, the presence of Ghostface himself was most likely the primary reason for the crowd of 10,000 Brooklynites and other fans on June 23.
As early as 6:30 p.m. and before, hip-hop and Wu-Tang Clan fans from all over the city began to form the line outside the entrance of Prospect Park’s Bandshell, the venue for the annual Celebrate Brooklyn festival. Produced every year by the efforts of BRIC Arts Media Bklyn, The Bowery, NYC Parks and Prospect Park Alliance, Celebrate Brooklyn is a collective presentation of music, art, word and film. During the summer months each year, this massive outdoor festival plays host to many well-known performance artists in an effort to revitalize interest in and attendance at Prospect Park in Brooklyn. As was obvious at the performance of Ghostface Killah and his fellow hip-hop artists, this goal seems to have been achieved. This particular show was also a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the respected hip-hop showcase, Lyricist Lounge.
Along with the revered hip-hop guru, several new and local artists showed off their skill at this performance of Celebrate Brooklyn. Miami native turned Brooklynite, Farrah Burns, started up the party with her powerhouse flow commanding the crowd’s respect and heating up the stage for her fellow performers. Fifteen-year-old Astro followed up with an astounding performance backed with old school references and hip-hop savvy lyrics. Charismatic and wildly talented, Astro spit lyrics of a mind twice his age and spouted pearls of wisdom to the crowd between tracks. Additional performances included rhymes by Camp Lo; former Flipmode Squad member, Rah Digga; Mobb Deep’s Prodigy; and an outstanding display of old-school talent from DJ Kid Capri.
Following a two hour lineup and introduction, hands in the crowd rose to sign the familiar “W” as Ghostface Killah took his much awaited place onstage accompanied by Cappadonna. For the next hour, the duo commanded the attention of 10,000 fans with live renditions of their renowned hip-hop classics. As was mentioned by a few of the artists, the performance drew fans of all ages, races and social groups and for a night, 10,000 New Yorkers became one collective in appreciation for one of the most prolific hip-hop artists in the past several decades.
Celebrate Brooklyn will continue throughout the summer with performances from a wide range of artists as well as some outdoor movies including The Muppet Movie as a sing-along event. The festival also serves as an opportunity to volunteer and become part of a movement to restore the largest park in Brooklyn. Information about volunteering, this year’s lineup and other aspects of Celebrate Brooklyn can be found on their website: http://www.bricartsmedia.org/performing-arts/celebrate-brooklyn.