• 15Apr

    BHF History: Lupe Fiasco, A Family Affair


    It was a family affair that day.

    When it comes to Brooklyn Bodega thats always the case. Husband and wife tag-team, Wes and Ebonie Jackson created the BHF to celebrate Hip Hop’s legacy and culture. So in essence, its a family run organization.

    But we didn’t know that then. We only knew that Big Daddy Kane was headlining something called The Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival at someplace called The Tobacco Warehouse and the tickets were free and we needed to be there.

    It was imperative. Not because of Kane, though.

    Because of Lupe Fiasco.


    We were hooked — my cousin Sha and I, that is. Ever since he kicked “I’m tryna stop lyin’ like a Mum-Ra / But I’m not lyin’ what I’m layin’ on the beat” on Kanye West’s triumphant “Touch The Sky”, we were hooked. I didn’t quite catch the reference initially. Of course, Sha broke it down immediately (Mum-Ra…villain from Thundercats…lion…lyin’…Eureka!).

    Thats the way its always been between us two. Whether it was 16 year-old Sha teaching a 5 year-old Company Man all the lyrics to Run DMC’s “Peter Piper”; or screaming on me because 36 Chambers hadn’t entered my 7th grade Sony tape player; or showing me how to count bars a few years ago when I realized I should write rhymes if I was gonna write about rap.

    When it comes to Hip Hop, Sha’s the Jedi. I’m the Padawan.

    And we were excited about Lupe.

    I can’t emphasize this enough.

    That ear-snatching verse on “Touch The Sky” was only page one of his doctrine. Those next few month’s were spent scouring the internet for mixtapes and leaked tracks, attempting to one-up each other with the latest Limewire Lupe discovery, exalting the lyrical genius from Chicago’s West Side to any and everyone willing to listen. For us, Hip Hop hadn’t been that much fun since the Jay and Nas beef first set off.

    Fiasco fever spread through our family like H1N1. His oldest son, Jahteek, added Lupe to his mostly alternative musical tastes, rocking him right next to System of a Down. His youngest daughter, Jedisha, would bop up and down the stairs singing “Kick push, kick, push, coast…”

    Akira was the biggest fan of all. The middle child. The hero and the sidekick. The rider, and the sister that would ride with. She was probably 8 years old at the time, regularly posting up on the living room sofa while Sha and I delved into the significance of his lyricism, soaking it in like Scotch-Brite.

    So, when word spread that Carrera Lu was performing at The Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival — the first major New York show featuring the still underground Emcee — it was a no brainer. Of course all five of us went.

    Literally, it was a family affair.

    We arrived at the Tobacco Warehouse before the first performance, set up shop on the gate separating the stage from the photographers pit, and sunk into the day’s rain soaked dopeness.

    We head-nodded to Panacea and The Procussions. We observed in confusion as Maya Azucena half rapped half crooned — underwhelming on both fronts. Strange Fruit was dope enough for me to cop their CD immediately after. Sleepy Brown was sleepy enough to wonder why he’d ever attempt a solo career (wasn’t he Outkast’s Nate Dogg anyway?). We bought T-shirts, dashed from concession stand to concession stand evading the rain, taking turns defending our front row position.

    Rhymefest rocked the hardest that day, jumping down crowd level while kicking his Blue Collar rhymes and Jesus Walks wittiness. He even tossed a few T-shirts into the crowd. I caught one amidst the mayhem that ensues when anything free is tossed into any concert audience. Somehow 8 year-old Akira caught one too.

    Dope rhymes. Thumping bass lines. The spirit of Hip Hop.

    By the time Lupe hit the stage, the energy under that tent was anthemic. Thousands of people packed in, vying for closer positioning, totally engrossed in the moment, lost in the sonic and visual elements of the culture we all adore.

    The accessibility (unlike other major Hip Hop festivals in the area, the BHF is the only one held within New York City limits). The progressiveness (artists country wide performed). The history (Duck Down, CL Smooth, Big Daddy Kane all on the same day). The future (Lupe).

    Hip Hop fans of all ages had a champion on that stage. Considering that was only the 2nd Annual BHF (the first at the Tobacco Warehouse), we all etched ourselves within the early legacy of a Brooklyn institution.

    We all etched ourselves into the legacy of something larger than all of us.

    So, yeah Lupe shined like he grew up in a shrine in Peru. Yeah, it was the first major look for one of today’s most highly acclaimed lyricists. Yeah, he was pissed then because his debut album (Food & Liquor) leaked a few weeks prior, forcing him to push its release back to the fall 2006. Yeah, it was the first time he performed “I Gotcha”, his newest post-leak track. Yeah, he came through like we hoped he would.

    But he was just a piece of the history taking shape. He was just a piece of the memories. Right along with Big Daddy Kane dawning a crimson button down, ripping through “Ain’t No Half Stepping”.

    Right beside CL Smooth bouncing his shoulders, feeling the energy that comes with gracing Brooklyn’s grand stage.

    Right next to 8 year-old Akira, attending her only Hip Hop festival, witnessing her favorite rapper live, taking home her Rhymefest T-shirt that was ten years too big.

    Right along with all of us.

    That day we were all a part of history. That day we were all family.

    Bodega Family.

Discussion 6 Responses

  1. April 15, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Wow so cool…. Wish I was there to make history with you guys…

  2. April 15, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing the moment in time :)

  3. April 16, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I remember this year exolicitly, Talib jumped on stage, Rymefest jumped in the crowd. It was crazy!

  4. April 16, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    This is an awesome trip down memory lane!! Perfectly described.

  5. April 22, 2010 at 2:11 am

    Great post. Your description of how you went looking for any Lupe verse you could find after hearing him on touch the sky was spot on. I did the same exact thing. Me and a few of my friends(the ones who understood the caliber of Lupe) would try and one up each other with the dopeness of his lines, “gave me the green light like yoda knifes”, “can’t see me like BIG on CMT”, “duck fellas, better get down like duck feathers”… and so on into the night. Lupe is the best to ever do it.

  6. April 22, 2010 at 2:40 am

    Also, I noticed that you’ve never mentioned Shad on your posts. I was wondering if you’ve heard him? Reason why I bring it up is cuz my favorite emcee is Lupe and I found Shad(Canadian emcee) and his verses are also insanely fun to pick apart and find all the witty/dope punchlines he packs in. Just giving you the heads up, I know if I hadn’t heard him yet I’d want someone to point him out to me. From one hip hop enthusiast to another. listen to his new single “yaa I get it” and I know you’ll be hooked.