Busta Rhymes Tears Up Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, Reunites With Leaders of The New School

He’s undeniably one of the greatest performers hip-hop has ever seen, but Busta Rhymes will never just live off his reputation.

He wants to show and prove he’s a king of the stage every time he takes one. Fittingly, Bus was indeed on his “New York Shit” last night as the headliner of the 8th Annual “Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival. (Bus spent the early part of his life growing up in Brooklyn, before moving to Long Island. He always comes back to BK, though).

“We got some confirmations and tonight will be phenomenal,” he said triumphantly in the backstage artist area of Brooklyn Bridge Park, about a hour before the show with his close friend and partner onstage, Spliff Star, by his side.

A short while later, it was apparent Bus’ promise would materialize in grand fashion. That’s because, Q-Tip arrived and he and Bus—surrounded by an army of security, family and friends—walked to another artist area inside of the tent, this one closer to the stage.

There, they were greeted by Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest and the unthinkable, Charlie Brown and Dinco D—two of Bus’ group mates from Leaders of the New School. Meanwhile, Slick Rick took a seat with his wife. Buckshot from Black Moon came in minutes later and then his Boot Camp Click familia, Smif-N-Wessun, filed in. Legendary rap Godfather Rakim was also supposed to join Busta’s Dream Team, but a family emergency kept him from making the show. Still, Bus had assembled an epic, Avengers-like, cast to help him body the stage.

Busta’s reunion with the Leaders, marks a sight no one has seen since about 1993 or 1994. (The Leaders don’t even remember their exact last performance. It was either a Detroit show (which Brown is almost sure was the last one) or a performance at the Apollo).

After laying the smackdown to the crowd in vintage fashion, Bus called for his “two brothers” to come out. There was almost no initial reaction when Dinco and Brown came out. The crowd was shocked. After all, Leaders disbanded because of friction and all everyone has heard over the years was that Bus and his group would “never” get back together. All parties stuck to their guns, but on Saturday night it was like they never broke up.

DJ Scratchator dropped the beat for “Case of P.T.A.” and the chemistry was as fervent as it was back in 1991. Busta, Dinco and C. Brown all played off each other, helping out on lines, doing ad-libs and starting the patented “East Coast Stomp.” The euphoric nostalgia didn’t stop there. Phife Dawg came out to set off, “Scenario.” It felt like you were watching their groundbreaking video live. All in attendance belted out one of the song’s signature parts like, “Browwwwwwwwwn,” in unison with Charlie.

Q-Tip added onto the frenzy when he came out—dressed in all black—except for his gray Air Yeezy sneakers with his rhymes, “It’s a Leaders/Quest mission and we got the goods here…”

Bus ended with the fury of mack truck that just jack knifed with his closing, “Dungeon Dragon” verse! Afterwards, both groups hugged each other.

With the 9 p.m. curfew on the park expiring, Bus was so overjoyed he didn’t want to leave. He tried to sneak in a couple more records, but during “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See,” the power was cut. Bus exited just like he came on—with a smile on his face. He gave his hometown a night to remember.

The Dungeon Dragon had started his show, doling out classics. Wearing a black Brooklyn Nets shirt that read, “Hello Brooklyn!”, the energetic rhyme icon yelled to the crowd:”Don’t This shit make a nigga wanna jump? Jump!”

Lil Fame of M.O.P. was a late arrival for “Ante Up” (Billy Danze got stuck in traffic). Minutes after, Buckshot came out for “How May MCs” and the remix to “I Gotcha Open.” Smif-N-Wessun then entered the stage for “Sound Bwoi Buriel.” Bus later left the stage to put on what looked like $5 million dollars worth of jewelry. He was joined side-by-side by Slick Rick The Ruler, who had on his traditional gaudy truck jewels.

Busta’s surprises also included his new recruits—Conglomerate signees, Reek Da Villain and John Doe—who rapped on King Tut.—Shaheem Reid (@ShaheemReid)

  • Azup

    Damn, I thought “The Year of the Dragon” was gonna be a Boom-Bap hip-hop album, let’s just pray that Busta comes with it this time around.