Masters of Ceremony returned to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday (June 28) to celebrate the art of MCing with some of the best rappers to pick up a mic.
This year’s lineup included Das EFX, Junior Reid, M.O.P., Cam’ron, The Lox, Fabolous, DMX, T.I., Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent. These artists are pillars in the game, influencing the creators of today with their music and technical skill. For nearly five hours, Brooklyn got to indulge in nostalgia for old and new heads alike.
DJ Enuff supplied the tunes in between each set, creating a concert experience for the rap fan who likes their hip-hop raw and uncut. Later in the evening, Korey Wise of the Central Park 5 took a moment during the show to address the audience, simply soaking in their cheers as they celebrated his exoneration documented in Netflix’s When They See Us.
Throughout the night, Billboard jotted down major highlights such as this from Masters of Ceremony. Relive the incredible evening below.
The Hit Squad Reunites
At promptly 8 p.m., early attendees of Masters of Ceremony were able to catch Das EFX, the duo of Dray and Skoob. They took it back to the essence of hip-hop with “Microphone Master” and the tongue-twisting lyrical gem “They Want EFX.” PMD of EPMD surprised fans by joining Das EFX for a Hit Squad reunion of sorts, performing his classic “You Gots to Chill.” He still got it.
Fabolous Runs Through His Hits
When artists from Brooklyn perform in their hometown, they are treated like hip-hop royalty — and Fabolous was no exception. Fab’s catalogue, especially from the 1990s and early 2000s, contains so many memorable hits that it was impressive he went through a majority of them in a short time. Coming out to “Breathe” first, he made sure to maintain the level of excitement with enough crowd pleasers to keep everyone on their feet.
Dressed in a Balenciaga vest, a Nipsey Hussle shirt, Vans and a diamond ankle bracelet, Fab performed a medley of his ladies’ anthems: “Superwoman,” “Into You,” “Make Me Better,” “Throw It in the Bag” and “You Be Killin Em.” As his time was coming to an end, he delivered a modern hit, “Uptown Vibes,” from Meek Mill’s Championships album, which shows how he’s still consistent after all these years in the game.
The King in Brooklyn
T.I. with the tilted hat was out in full force at Barclays. Tip channeled his younger, scrapper self by performing well-known songs from his successful albums Trap Muzik, Urban Legend and King. Easily the most polished performer of the night, Tip dedicated his set to his day one fans, taking them through the songs that built his foundation to super stardom. He steered away from big radio hits in favor of street anthems, saying after “What You Know” that “we got hits, we could do this all night.”
He could have, indeed. But instead, fans were left with “About the Money” and Tip shouting out his Bankroll Mafia crew, as well as Hustle Gang. For one night only, Tip gave fans the proper dose of the true ATL sound straight from the pavement.
The Dog Still Has Bark
DMX’s comeback has been met with a lot of support and positivity in 2019. After being released from prison in January, he hit the road in support of the 20th anniversary of It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, performed at SXSW, Rolling Loud and more. Last night at Masters of Ceremony, Dark Man X loved the fact that he was performing in front of New Yorkers, making this a true hometown welcoming.
X mostly stuck to his classics, getting on a speaker once again to perform “Ruff Ryder’s Anthem.” His familiar aggressiveness punctuated songs like “What’s My Name” and “Where The Hood At?” Of course, “What These Bitches Want” got the most interaction from the crowd as they rapped along to the long list of women he mentions in the song.
The Ruff Ryders mainstay knew he needed to wrap up his set soon, thanking the rappers before him who performed and whoever else was performing after. Even if he didn’t acknowledge Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent, this is X, focused on The Dog’s world only. After “Slippin’,” dedicated to God’s Warriors, he left the audience with another heart-wrenching prayer before exiting the stage.
Snoop Dogg’s Moment of Silence for Nipsey Hussle
Snoop knows how to have fun. As one of the MCs with the most experience in entertainment, Tha Doggfather made sure this was going to be a night to remember. Snoop was not alone, bringing out his favorite rapper Slick Rick for “Children’s Story,” which got a loud pop. Afterwards, Snoop said he wanted to be like Slick Rick as a kid, and then praised the crowd for knowing all the words to the song like “it came out yesterday.”
Backed by dancers, Snoop was having a party on stage. With a golden microphone in one hand and a blunt in another, he looked to be enjoying life. Cool and smooth, he rapped songs like “The Next Episode” and “Bitch Please II” with ease. He took out a sparkly money gun with LBC written on it for “I Wanna Love You,” making it rain for the front row.
Midway through the set, Snoop thoughtfully paid his respects to Nipsey Hussle with a moment of silence. Maze and Frankie Beverly’s “Look At California” was the soundtrack to a collection of photos of Nipsey on the screen. “We love you Nip,” Snoop said, finishing his set with Biggie’s “Hypnotize” and “Drop It Like It’s Hot.”
50 Cent is Street King Immortal
Hip-hop’s favorite troublemaker made sure to end the night on a high note. When 50 is not calling people out for owing him money, teasing another season of Power, or ignoring shots from his former G-Unit artist Young Buck, he is first and foremost an MC. The Jamaica, Queens-bred rapper, behind his impactful album Get Rich or Die Tryin’, went back to his roots, performing everything you’d expect from a 50 Cent show in 2019.
Supported by his hypemen Uncle Murda and Tony Yayo, Fif got into cuts like “What Up Gangsta,” “Magic Stick” and “Many Men.” His newer songs like “Big Rich Town” and “I’m the Man” also got favorable responses from the crowd. Though his performance wasn’t as electric as him in his prime, his name on any bill is enough draw for fans of the old 50. Plus, you couldn’t have him headline without a special surprise.
During his rendition of “P.I.M.P.,” he immediately followed it with the remix. Snoop Dogg joined him to rap his verse with Tony Yayo ad-libbing for him. “If you owe 50, you owe me! Give me my motherfucking money!” Snoop said afterwards.
The two are semi-serious about it. Technically, 50 did bring him out, so he does owe someone a fee. The two were exchanging posts on Instagram about the performance this morning, where Snoop says he took 50’s car as collateral until he pays him in full.
Who knows how long the joke will last, but it’s a hilarious fallout to a night with hip-hop’s past and present pioneers.