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Concert Review:: EPMD and Rakim at Central Park

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Hip Hop…. Funk Master Flex.... EPMD.... Rakim... Concerts…. Free. 

Where can you find all of this in one place? New York City’s Summer Stage concert series.

Thousands of old school hip hop fans came out on a gloomy Sunday afternoon in Central Park to hear Funk Master Flex, EPMD and the legendary Emcee Rakim. From beginning to end, the mostly older crowd, was enthusiastic. You could definitely feel the vibe of true hip hop fans ready to hear the veteran MC’s who have paved the way for all the Jay Z’s, 50 Cents, and Lil Waynes.

First up on stage, the one, the only Funk Master Flex got the park poppin’ on his turntables. Flex seems to be a staple at the Summer Stage concerts, having done a few concerts in Brooklyn this summer as well. Flex played his usual funk/hip hop dance classics on the ones and twos for what seemed to last forever. The crowd was getting antsy and was ready to see the stars of the show.


It was time for the funk infused hip hop group EPMD, who have been making hits for over 20 years!
EPMD’s Eric Sermon and Parrish Smith came to the stage with a full force of energy.  The crowd went wild not just because of the hip hop pioneers but also because of what they mean to East Coast hip hop. Sermon and Smith are born and bred New Yorkers and obviously enjoy giving back to their roots, they too have performed other free concerts in Brooklyn previously. The funk infused hip hop group performed their classic hits “Strictly Business”, “Crossover”, and “You Gots to Chill”. They definitely delivered! It was cool to see how much fun they had with the crowd. After their set, they were chill enough to not only talk to some fans, but sign autographs and take pictures for a good while.

UP Next…..Was a little entertainment from the famous DJ Scratch on the turntables and a whole lot of rain. However, the downpour did not “rain” on anyone’s parade. These fans were dedicated and braved it.


It was time for legend himself, Rakim. He’s been banging out hip hop hits since the mid 80’s. He has been named one of the greatest MC’s/lyricists of all time and he definitely lived up to that momentous title. As expected, the crowd went wild! Many of the female crowd members most notably commented on how damn good he looks after all these years...validating the famous saying, “black don’t crack”.  Like his stage predecessors, Rakim also hails from New York and he definitely let the crowd know how good it felt to be back in his city.

During his set Rakim performed the hits “Eric B for President”, “Paid in Full”, “Let the Rhythm Hit Em’” and “Move the Crowd”.  Joined on the stage by DJ Scratch, Rakim also spun on the ones and twos to his classic, “I Know You Got Soul”.  Later on, Peter Gunz and Cormega joined the hip hop vet on stage. However, soon after the concert ended due the excessive rain.

Overall, Rakim’s performance was dope!  He still remains a pioneer of hip hop; his rhymes, rhythm, and swag clearly explain why he is called “The Master” and “The God Emcee”.

Written by: Danielle Bain
New York, NY

Photos courtesy of MBMR