After four free shows on four nights in four boroughs, the hip-hop portion of NYC Homecoming Week is now over. On Friday night Queens did the honor of closing out the week-long celebration of old school rap (and funk) with a rousing show at Forest Hills Stadium, culminating in a full-length set by George Clinton on his 80th birthday.
The crowd was surprisingly sparse for much of the six-hour party last night, though by the time Clinton and his P-Funk All Stars hit the stage at 8 p.m. the place, while still by no means full, felt appropriately lively. Other highlights of the night included surprise appearances by DMC, who got the stadium pumped up and singing along.
Onetime Ice Cube collaborator Yo-Yo showed that she still has that spark, Queensbridge legend Havoc busted out a full slate of Mobb Deep favorites, EPMD made their second NYC Homecoming appearance of the week, and Too $hort flew in from Oakland for an enthusiastic set.
As for the politician part of the show, the Queens crowd loudly booed Mayor Bill de Blasio; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer toned down his "Killa Chuck" bit; and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams showed off his impressive beatboxing skills. Borough President Donovan Richards was also on hand, and helped present a birthday cake to Clinton.
Serena Williams (not the tennis player) from the Bronx summed up the whole week of shows quite nicely: "It's amazing, there's such a great range of artists and it's such a nice socially distant place. It's really a pleasure to be here. It's great to have everyone vaccinated, the vaccination checks at the door make you feel safe and it's really nice to have an opportunity to just all be together, but still be safe."
Now all eyes are on Central Park’s Great Lawn for Saturday night’s epic finale which, yes, has a hip hop component to it (both LL Cool J and Polo G are scheduled to play), but is dominated by acts like Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Paul Simon, Carlos Santana, Jennifer Hudson, Barry Manilow, The Killers, and Elvis Costello. Finger crossed Henri doesn’t spoil the fun.