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Ghostface Killah and Fellow Lyricsts Take Over Prospect Park

by Photo of Alexander Trimes

Lyricist Lounge travelled the Prospect Park Bandshell on June 23 as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn concert series

Ghostface Killah and Fellow Lyricsts Take Over Prospect Park

The Lyricist Lounge celebrated its twentieth anniversary on Saturday night at Brooklyn’s famous Prospect Park Bandshell. For those of you unfamiliar with the traveling concert series, Lyricist Lounge tours annually, always with a lineup of artists dedicated to producing thought-provoking, clever lyrics.

With over a half hour until the first performer took the stage, fans flowed through the gates and transformed the Bandshell into rapidly growing community. Complete strangers became rapt in casual conversations like old friends as the crowd began to spread from standing area, to lawn, even to the opposite side of the fence for those who arrived after the venue reached maximum occupancy. But as 7:30 struck everyone grew quiet for the start of the show.

Farrah Burns, accompanied by DJ Bedtyme 357, started off the night with a short but talented set. The emcee, also the winner of a 2008 Underground Music Award for best female rapper, got the crowd warmed up with autobiographical songs like “The New NYU,” which encouraged the audience to join in on her experiences and sing parts of the hook. Before stepping off stage, Farrah took a quick poll revealing that most members of the audience were not simply fans, but actually had backgrounds as emcees and DJs.

Following Farrah was newcomer to the rap world Brian Bradley, better known to X Factor fans as Astro. At fifteen years young, Astro surprised the audience with fast, topical lyrics and a money-isn’t-everything attitude that he’s adopted from one of his favorite musicians, Bob Marley. Recently signed by Epic Records, the rising star took a moment to explain the value he places on words and his love of composing before performing “S.H.A.M.E.,” his carefully crafted tribute to Trayvon Martin. Astro left the crowd chuckling as he closed with a truncated version of one of his better known songs, “Stop Looking at my Mom,” just to get the message out there.

Rah Digga had the stage after Astro and promptly got down to business. Without hesitation she moved passionately through each song as familiar fans followed along. Allowing herself a brief break towards the end of her performance, Rah Digga explained the Lyricist Lounge’s importance to her as she first got signed to a record label at the 1996 series after rapping while eight months pregnant. But, unsurprisingly, her pause lasted only as long as the anecdote and she soon returned to her set with a new song “I Love Music.” When Rah Digga’s time was up, she exited the stage with a parting phrase that embodied the concert’s spirit: ”Lyrics matter.”

Photo credit: Ryan Muir

The sun began to set during an intermission which concluded with an explosion of colorful lights across the Bandshell. DJ Kid Capri took his place at the deck and looking out at the eager crowd, he asked one simple question: new music, or old music? After a unanimous call for oldies, Capri dove into his set, flawlessly cutting together tracks by crowd favorites like Dead Prez and Black Star. Bandshell attendants bounced and swayed to each new rhythm and cheers rung out through the evening, answering every scratch and stutter from the tables. For the first time in the night fans really let loose, dancing, singing, and feeling the music more now than during any of the earlier acts. Kid Capri definitely got the crowd charged up, everyone anxiously awaiting the next performer, Prodigy.

It’s unfortunate, but from Kid Capri’s high the concert dipped down to the night’s lowest point. As I suggested earlier, the Lyricist Lounge attracted a community craving lyrics with significance; something they could discuss, something they could reflect on, something Prodigy couldn’t deliver. Throughout the set, Prodigy was pelted with boos for his redundant, infertile lines and never quite seemed to take the hint. Fans began to sit down or talk with one another while the performer continued rapping. When his set finished, Prodigy swiftly fled the Bandshell, as patient fans got ready for the man they’ve all been waiting for.

The stage lights dimmed when Ghostface Killah walked calmly on stage, greeted by cries and applause from 8,000 audience members. Sudden bursts of color flew across the Bandshell and Ironman began rapping, each line as quick and clear as those flashing lights. Fans danced and sung along, reciting every word to Wu Tang classics like “Ice Cream” and “Can It Be All So Simple.” With Cappadonna’s help, the two even managed to coordinate the crowd and direct each half to sing a particular lyric, forming the perfect beat for some brief rhymes. But Cappadonna wasn’t the only guest to make an appearance during Ghostface’s set, as they were joined on stage by DJ J-Love, Sheek Louch, and even Popa Wu himself.

Photo credit: Ryan Muir

Before his set was done, Ghostface took the time to thank fans and perform a short tribute to The Notorious B.I.G. Closing the concert with his 2009 single "Baby," he left the crowd with a friendly "1,2,3 Peace!"

Attending Saturday night’s Lyricist Lounge was an incredible experience. Words alone can’t fully describe the performance put on by some of rap’s most talented artists, and I highly suggest that you give them a listen if you’re not already familiar with their music. If you do decide check them out, keep in mind Rah Digga’s words of wisdom, “Lyrics matter,” because in a world where more and more mainstream artists seem to neglect this simple ideal, those that uphold it truly stand out.

Let CHARGED.fm get you the best tickets to see your favorite artists perform live this summer.

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