“If you love hip-hop music, make some motherf-in’ noise!” commanded Rick Ross, who headlined the star-studded Def Jam 30 concert at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
The evening honored the 30-year milestone for the legendary label, founded by Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons in 1984 with the release of T La Rock and Jazzy Jay‘s inaugural single, “It’s Yours.” While notable Def Jam alumni were absent (Public Enemy, Jay Z, LL Cool J), artists from past and present passed the torch as the five-hour event wore on. DJ Kid Capri gave the teeming audience a hip-hop history lesson in between impassioned performances from EPMD, Foxy Brown and Redman & Method Man, who emptied a bottle of water onto the crowd, explaining, “That’s what you get for sitting during our set.”
But as the night continued, the arena’s energy intensified when Ja Rule and Ashanti ran through a series of solo and collaborative hits, including “Always on Time,” “Mesmerize” and “Foolish.” Current rappers Big Sean and 2 Chainz evoked a buzzy response, but it was a growling set from DMX and Swizz Beatz that turned the stage into a pulpit.
“There’s no place like New York!” barked DMX, who closed with a four-minute prayer. “I love y’all.”