To celebrate their 20th anniversary, the famed hip-hop brand “Lyricist Lounge “ teamed up with New York City’s “City Parks Foundation” Summerstage series to bring hip-hop back to it’s live-in-the park roots, with a performance by legendary DJ’s Pete Rock & DJ Premier.
The locale was East River Park in the Lower East Side section of Manhattan. The stage is situated on the banks of the East River, with the Brooklyn skyline in the distance. It was in this picturesque setting, against the beautiful backdrop of a perfect NYC summer evening, Pete (Pete Rock) and Primo (DJ Premier) proceeded to rock a diverse crowd of all ages and colors, spinning classic soul records to golden era hip-hop. With a huge gallery of hip-hop fanatics and aficionados, the air was filled with energy (and the aroma of weed smoke).
After DJ Enuff’s crowd warm-up set, Pete & Primo took the stage together and “battled” from dusk to sundown. Going back and forth, trading cuts throughout the set, the guys started out with a tribute to Pete’s late cousin MC Heavy D. From there the pair broke into a classic soul set spanning the 70’s & 80’s from artist like Bill Withers to Rick James and James Brown. The guys work the crowd, getting them to sing their favorites, and Primo even convinces to the crowd to do the Stevie Wonder side-to-side dance as he spins a Stevie records. Next Primo turns the classic soul set into a classic break set, starting out with the heavily sampled Nautilus by “Bob James” which is perfectly complimented by Primo’s trademark cuts and scratches.
Suddenly Pete decides to break the old school set by calling out Primo to go head to head with him on their own produced records. Primo accepts the challenge but asks Pete if they could spin some of their favorite hip-hop records first. Pete, of course, quickly obliges. The pair quickly elevates the crowd with a string of golden era classics that include records from Run DMC, Eric B & Rakim, MC Lyte, and KRS One. Pete decides to drop Ed O.G.’s “I Gotta Have It” and with the crowd at it’s height tragedy strikes… Pete Rock and DJ Premier are just half way through their set when the power on stage blows out.
After 30 minutes of no power on stage the majority of the crowd still sits anxiously with prayers that power is restored so the party can continue and even breaking into the chant “Hip! Hop! Hip! Hop! Hip Hop!” to keep the energy up. But it’s to no avail and at the scheduled end time of 9pm the rest of the show is called off. Some of the crowd files out while others remain, and some even light up another to enjoy the rest of the beautiful summer night on the river with just the sounds of the city.