Nostalgia was the selling point at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Sept. 19, where last-man-standing rap zine The Source held a concert for its 25th anniversary.
Relative newcomers Currensy and Dom Kennedy opened the night, but it was electric sets from veterans Wu-Tang Clan, Lil’ Kim, The Diplomats and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony that justified the fete. Live hip-hop suffers when an MC lacks stage presence, but the headliners showed that performance is a muscle that, if flexed over time, will only strengthen. Bone Thugs rallied the brimming crowd with “Crossroads” while Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Freekey Zekey and Juelz Santana paraded through Diplomats cuts such as “Oh Boy” and “Hey Ma.”
But the most arresting sets came from Lil’ Kim and Wu-Tang. Fresh off her mixtape Hard Core 2K14, Kim staged a vigorous comeback, performing her hits before closing with a cover of Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot Boy” (and her own take on the Shmoney Dance, of course).
But Wu felt the hungriest: The crew dished out tongue-twisting couplets, showing no signs of wear. Hip-hop legacy acts have yet to see the touring success their rock and country peers have, but this was an arena-sized step in the right direction.