Hot 97 and WBLS’s grand holiday fête, Christmas in Brooklyn, was pure Hip-Hop bliss for old school heads, yet quite a musical treat for the bevy of neophytes in attendance. From vintage vinyl spinning to tributes dedicated to the late Jam Master Jay and legendary producer Larry Smith, Barclays Center turned into the biggest house party on the block, Friday night (Dec. 19).
Diggy Simmons opened with a string of songs, including his “Made You Look Freestyle” cut. Soon enough, it was Lecrae’s turn to emerge onto stage with his Anomaly single “All I Need is You” and party anthem “I’m Turnt.” ‘Crae then gifted fans by bringing out fellow Reach Records brethren Andy Mineo for “Say I Won’t,” which was specially made complete with breakdancing by a couple of b-boy wizards.
The R&B portion of the show featured none other than burgeoning songstress and Love & Hip Hop alum K. Michelle. The Memphis native crooned singles from her newly released debut album, which included “Can’t Raise a Man” and “V.S.O.P.” before breaking into a sensual harmony alongside two Jane Does, both of whom are vocal goddesses.
LL Cool J officially blessed the stage and came bearing gifts in process as he brought out several guests. A swoothworthy Cool James hurdled through classic hits like “Doin’ It Well” and “Loungin (Who Do You Love),” before causing a sh*tstorm with Bell Biv Devoe. A live rendition of the group’s timeless “Poison” hit made the crowd go bonkers. But no single moment was as monumental (or random) as when Canibus appeared from the abyss and performed alongside LL for their collaborative and controversial track “4, 3, 2, 1.” Back in the late ’90s, the pair traded diss records. Ironically, using the track they performed together last night.
LL further surprised audience members when he featured new school rappers Troy Ave and Murda Mook, alongside the OG, Raekwon the Chef.
Run-DMC closed out the night with quite a spectacle, and one not absolved from technical difficulties. The iconic Hip-Hop collective performed fan-faves and landmark hits such as “Rock Box,” “Christmas in Hollis,” “Run’s House,” “My Adidas” and “Walk This Way” to name a few. Somewhere between beatboxing and pelvic thrusting, the mics went out on ol’ Joseph Simmons and Darryl McDaniels. But sooner than later, it was back to “Raising Hell.”
Legendary producer Larry Smith’s recent death coincided with Run DMC’s return to a big stage. As such, the pair saw it was a timely opportunity to pay tribute to the man responsible for the sounds behind Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow, Whodini, Fat Boys and the like. As expected, Jam Master Jay was also remembered by his own offsprings, both of whom are carrying the torch as accomplished disc-jockeys.
In between sets, Hot 97’s Ebro presented the family of slain father Eric Garner, who is one of several Black deaths that galvanized our nation into action against racial injustice and police brutality. As Ebro mentioned, a town hall meeting on all things moving forward is soon to come.
See below for a candid photo recap and captured footage of said tributes, and more.