I have witnessed quite a few reunions in Hip-Hop. The Fugees getting back together at Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, The Hit Squad (EPMD, Redman, Das EFX, K-Solo) joining forces again at BB Kings, Organized Konfusion teaming up at the same spot, The Artifacts agreeing to perform at The Rocksteady Anniversary when at one point they wouldn’t even step foot in the same place with each other, among other noteworthy things. I never get tired of seeing the music and culture continuing to defy expectations of it promoting hostility and immaturity. People grow and realize that life can go by very fast, and as time goes some folks see that differences can be resolved as it’s often not worth going through live with animosity. I’ve also learned this myself, and know that it’s a great feeling when you can talk to someone you once did not make eye contact with like nothing ever happened.
For the Leaders of the New School, the group that saw the emergence of a young Busta Rhymes, their falling out was a pretty big deal. Especially since it partly played out in the public. And for years the members, Busta, Dinco D and Charlie Brown, would express in interviews and to their fans how they were still not on speaking terms. So when Busta went on Twitter a few Tuesdays ago to the surprise of many with a photo of all three of them nearly twenty years after their breakup, this caught quite a few people off guard. Since Busta was set to be the headliner at the annual Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, there was a lot of speculation if they would make it official. For those who went there, not only did it happen to the delight of many but it also was the scene of a rare collaborative performance, with help from some of their Native Tongues peers.
There is something that should be noted. The friction between the group members was seen on TV worldwide back in 1993. In a episode of Yo! MTV Raps that has gone down in history, Fab Five Freddie interviewed them as in part to coincide with their new album, T.I.M.E., which came out that year. You can watch the video below to get an idea of how tense it was, but I want to point out something that my radio co-host John Black mentioned to me. Notice how in the footage they’re on a walkway, which may look familiar to some. Keep that in mind after the break.
This year the Hip-Hop Festival was not at its usual place under the Brooklyn Bridge. Instead it was up the road near Montague Street, which was really out of the way for many. As the rest of the park was under construction, it was in the middle of a incomplete parking lot with blocks and construction material piled on each side. This didn’t stop from what looked like nearly 2,000 Hip-Hop fans filling up the place with plenty of security and police around, possibly as part of the Hip-Hop intelligence unit, on an odd day in which the famed Pier 17 at South Street Seaport was burning in the background. Now as you’re watching the clip below, look to the top of the footage. See all of the people viewing the show from the top? That’s the same place where the group’s famous breakup took place at in the previous clip.
Whatever this location was intentionally chosen to stage their reunion or it was a coincidence, it did make the occasion that much more significant. Of course the arrival of Tribe Called Quest to do “Scenario” made it one of the best Hip-Hop moments ever, but even if that did not happen it would have been pretty memorable for the heads who could remember the impact the group left on the scene when they were out. I was a bit too young to really be up on them when they were around, but thanks to a connect in East New York I got their first two CDs and learned that way. And if you still question whatever or not I really know anything about the group, know that the record below sits in one of my crates in my room.