By Gloria Fox
The Hip Hop Legend Big Daddy Kane headlined the 7th annual Restoration Rocks! music festival in Bed-Stuy on October 12th—it was a splendid October day in Brooklyn, sun high in the sky and a palpable excitement in the air.
Fulton Street closed off, activities abuzz, including vendors of African imports with gorgeous patterned fabrics, original clothing designs, and cool t-shirts; activities included face painting and a public Zumba class. A big stage at one end of the event was the main draw.
Hollywood actor and heart throb Leon MC-ed and charmed the crowd with his smooth delivery and extreme good looks.
The line up of performers included the ubiquitous Questlove. Unfortunately, I missed his performance, but I caught several outstanding performances. Among them was Alex Kelley, a young singer songwriter who was one of two slots in an online talent competition sponsored by Blazetrak. A pop rock stylistic bent, her voice suits the genre with a strong, and emotional intensity that said to me “young star on the rise!”
Maya Azucena with her 10-piece band, soul and R&B warmed up the crowd for Daddy Kane. Azucena is a physical powerhouse in stature and voice. Her voice commands over the instrumentals, including four horns and a conga drummer, rich and soaring. Beautiful to watch. She sang about relationships, and empowerment with songs titles Shine, Black Butterfly, and Fearless—sung in tandem with guest appearance by Toni Blackman. It was an awesome set.
Then Big Daddy Kane came on! Talk about a powerful presence! He was classic cool, in his sagging jeans and shiny patterned jacket, a bit more filled out now at 45 than from his 80’s days. He also had a big band accompaniment, super tight with three horns, keyboards, drummer, guitarist and bass and a female backup singer. That man can rap, shooting rapid fire lyrics so quick they become less word like and more music like; the rhythmic speed of his voice blends with the music seamlessly. As soon as his back up dancers joined him onstage, they had the crowd entranced. It was an exciting show that stayed with me for hours.
Kudos to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp for staging such an impressive, free outdoor event. BSRC is a non-profit organization working towards community awareness and involvement with goals to better empower through self-sufficiency and family well being.
Check out restorationplaza.org for upcoming events, and ways to get involved.