HOT 97 & WBLS-FM celebrated hip hop’s 50th anniversary on Friday night with Hip Hop Forever, an all-star concert at Madison Square Garden. Funk Flex curated the lineup, which included performances by Wu Tang Clan, Mary J. Blige, EPMD, Diddy, and Sean Paul.
Funk Flex warmed the crowd up with a DJ set, followed by a presentation of awards to DJ Red Alert, Chuck Chillout, and Marley Marl before Seal Paul took the stage to perform a few songs, including “Get Busy,” “Like Glue,” “Temperature,” a new song, and more.
EPMD were up next, and in addition to playing classics like “You Gots to Chill,” and “So Wat Cha Sayin’,” they paid tribute to hip hop legends we’ve lost, inluding Phife Dawg, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Biz Markie, and others. Then Funk Flex was back for a live mixtape set featuring appearances from Coi Leray, French Montana, CL Smooth, Greg Nice of Nice & Smooth, Milk Dee of Audio Two, and DJ Kool.
Next up were Wu Tang Clan, who were introduced by Maxwell. RZA, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Raekwon the Chef, Ghostface Killah, and ODB’s son Young D.B. were all on hand (no GZA on Friday) for their set, which included “Protect Ya Neck,” “Method Man,” Da Mystery of Chessboxin’”, “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit.” They brought out Cappadonna for Raekwon’s “Ice Cream,” and Redman for Method Man’s “Da Rockwilder,” too.
Diddy was not on the announced lineup but came out next (perhaps filling in for Mariah Carey who was billed but not there), and kicked off his set with a song from his new album that came out on Friday. He then launched into Bad Boy Records classics like “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down,” “It’s All About the Benjamins,” “Warning” (Notorious B.I.G.), “Whoa” (Black Rob), and “Mo Money Mo Problems.”
The night ended with WBLS staffers coming out to introduce Tyrese, who in turn introduced Mary J Blige. Her set included a lot of guests, including Method Man for “I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By,” and Jadakiss for “Back 2 Life 2001.” Jadakiss brought out his fellow The Lox members Styles P and Sheek Louch for “Wild Out” and “We Gonna Make It,” and the night closed with Jadakiss and Fabolous joining MJB for “Family Affair.”
See photos from Hip Hop Forever by Edwina Hay and fan-shot video below.