Hip-Hop's 10 Best Reunions
Judging by Diddy’s Bad Boy Family reunion tour and Dungeon Family’s reunion at Atlanta’s One Music Festival, rap reunions have been all the rage as of late. Providing a nostalgic glimpse for fans and a return to relevance for artists, reunions can go a long way at preserving the legacy of music’s greats.
Here are some of the most notable hip-hop reunions of all time -- from epic one-night-only surprise gigs, to landmark television appearances and all-out concert tours.
Coachella, April 2016, Indio, Calif.
So what if they only performed a handful of songs during Ice Cube’s set? This spring, one of hip-hop’s most legendary groups hit the dusty desert in celebration of their incredible year, which included the runaway theatrical success of Straight Outta Compton and their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just weeks prior. Going through a handful of their smashes, Ice Cube, DJ Yella and MC Ren (along with Cube’s son and Compton star O'Shea Jackson Jr.) proved that the World’s Most Dangerous Group still has legs 30 years after they first rocketed to prominence. The cherry on top of the whole affair was Dr. Dre’s surprise appearance during the set, materializing on a platform above the stage.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, November 2015, New York
In their first television appearance in over 15 years and first performance in over two years to celebrate the release of the 25th-anniversary reissue of their debut LP People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths to Rhythm, the famed group hit Jimmy Fallon’s talk show to perform an energetic version of their hit “Can I Kick It?” It was a moment that instantly made headlines thanks to not only its pitch-perfect performance, but also for the fact that the group, including Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White, were accompanied by Tonight Show house band The Roots. As for their scarcity of their live sets, Phife Dawg told Rolling Stone that he doesn’t quite understand it. “It's dumb, and I don't agree with it and we're doing the fans a great injustice by not getting together and rocking, and that's all I can really speak on as far as that goes.” Tragically, it would be the group's last performance: Phife died in March at age 45 due to diabetes complications.
Reunion Tour, 2012, various locations
When 2 Live Crew burst onto the scene in the late '80s, the polarizing group stirred up controversy thanks to their risqué lyrics and edgy subject matter. The firestorm they created must have been tiring because the group took a decades-long break and weren’t heard from again until 2012, when they embarked on a cross-country reunion tour, performing songs from their appropriately titled 1989 album As Nasty As They Wanna Be.
Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, 2004, Brooklyn
We all knew Dave Chappelle was a comedy genius, but who knew he also had the talent to concoct such a badass reunion? Somehow, Chappelle managed to reunite all of the original members of the Fugees (Pras, Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill) for a performance that was captured on film for the documentary Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, which was released later that year. It was the Fugees' first time onstage together in about 10 years and reminded everyone why the the group was so beloved in the first place.
Rock the Bells, 2004, San Bernardino, Calif.
There must have been something in the air in 2004, because that’s not only when the Fugees reunited, but it also marked the time when all nine members of the Wu-Tang Clan hit the stage at the debut Rock the Bells festival in Southern California. Running through their hits, the night proved to be bittersweet considering Clan member Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who had recently gotten out of jail, died a few months later, making this epic performance the last time the original Wu-Tang would ever be seen onstage again.
Made in America, 2012, Philadelphia
The legendary hip-hop act made their triumphant return to the stage after a 13-year hiatus in 2012 thanks to Jay Z’s end-of-summer music bash. Early into the set, member Rev Run blurted out, “This feels good,” which was probably a nod to the group finding their groove after many assumed they’d never perform again following the tragic murder of Jam Master Jay in 2002. Jay was represented onstage thanks to a massive banner, and the audience ate out of the palm of Run and D.M.C.’s hands.
Reunion tour, 2015, various locations
Seemingly never finding an end to internal strife, the classic Texas-based rap group somehow reunited for a nationwide tour. However, the group best known for "My Mind Playing Tricks on Me" and “Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangster” had their tour derailed when frontman Scarface fell ill and dropped out after a handful of dates. (His explanation of his symptoms, according an interview he gave to Rolling Stone? “The shit I was coughing up was damn near the color of some good-ass weed, maybe some spinach or something — it was that green.”)
For the Fans Tour, 2012, various locations
The sweet R&B stylings of 112 were all the rage in the early 00s, with the Atlanta-based act releasing Grammy-nominated singles (“Peaches and Cream”) and chart-toppers “Only You” and “Anywhere.” Their success soon petered out thanks to a label switch (the group hopped from Bad Boy to Def Jam) and internal squabbling. That is, until, a triumphant reunion string of shows in 2012 which they honorably dubbed the For the Fans Tour.
Summer festival tour, 2014, various locations
Fans were shaking like a Polaroid picture all over the country during the spring and summer of 2014 when Andre 3000 and Big Boi, the duo better known as Outkast, hit the road and hawked their classic tracks through a series of festival dates. The shows were well-received by just about everyone except Andre 3000. The frontman wore jumpsuits that featured clues about how he felt like a sell-out on the tour, going so far as to wear a price tag that said “sold.” In an interview with The Fader later that year, the rapper was brutally honest about how he thought the shows went. "I felt weird about going out on stage and doing it again. I felt like people would be like, 'Y'all are doing all these festivals, y'all are just doing it for money.' And I felt like a sell-out, honestly. So I was like, if I'm in on the joke, I'll feel cool about it."
“I Declare War” Concert, 2005, New York
Sure they weren’t technically a group, but having Jay Z and Nas up on the same stage was a head-turning moment for fans considering the two New York hip-hip luminaries hated each other’s guts for the duration of their long careers. Cut to one fateful night in New York City, two long years after Jay Z announced his retirement and later changing his mind and returning to the stage for this legendary show. It was a moment so big, many have called it one of the greatest moments in hip-hop history.