Nostalgia was the selling point at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Sept. 19, when hip-hop magazine The Source held its inaugural SOURCE360 variety concert to commemorate its 25th anniversary. While relative newcomers Curren$y and Dom Kennedy opened the evening, it was the electric sets from veterans Wu-Tang Clan, Lil’ Kim, the Diplomats and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony that justified the fete.
Live hip-hop shows can often be deflated if an MC lacks stage presence, but the headliners conveyed that performance is a muscle that, if flexed over time, will only improve. Bone Thugs rallied the brimming crowd with “Crossroads” and “Notorious Thugs” while The Diplomats, which reunited Cam’Ron, Jim Jones, Freekey Zeeky and Juelz Santana, paraded through cuts like “Oh Boy,” “Dipset Anthem” and “Hey Ma.” Both groups were teeming with energy, and while some of their hits sounded time-stamped, they were as strong as ever.
But the most arresting sets came from Lil’ Kim and Wu-Tang Clan. Fresh off releasing her mixtape Hard Core 2K14 on Sept. 11, Kim staged a vigorous comeback replete with songs mined deep from her catalogue (“Big Momma Thang,” “Get Money”) before closing with her cover of Bobby Shmurda‘s viral smash, “Hot Boy.” But Wu felt the hungriest: the eight-man group dished out tongue-twisting couplets, showing no sign of wear during songs including “M.E.T.H.O.D. Man” and “C.R.E.AM.” If the night proved anything, it’s that the artists’ legacies, much like the magazine who helped build them, live on.