Homecoming Week kicked off w/ KRS-One, Slick Rick & more in the Bronx (pics, video, recap)

The musical portion of "Homecoming Week," celebrating NYC's reopening from COVID lockdown, began on Monday (8/16) with the first of four "It's Time for Hip Hop in NYC" shows, presented by the city and the Universal Hip Hop Museum. There's one each for The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, with the grand finale being "WE LOVE NYC: The Homecoming Concert," with Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, The Killers, and more, on Saturday, August 21 in Central Park. People could request free tickets online, and were required to have at least the first dose of a COVID vaccine to attend; if you came without a ticket or vaccination, you could tailgate from the parking lot, sit on a nearby park bench, or get vaccinated at a mobile unit onsite near the venue. All the shows are streaming live, too, the hip hop shows on Behind the Rhyme's Twitch, and Saturday's show on CNN.

Monday's show was at Orchard Beach in The Bronx, and was hosted by Ralph McDaniels of long-running public television show Video Music Box, who will also host the other three hip hop shows this week. We arrived around 5 PM, as CL Smooth was finishing up his set. Busy Bee Starski, who flew in from Las Vegas to perform, was up next, followed by Kool Keith, who performed instead of the full Ultramagnetic MCs lineup which was previously announced. Kool Keith wrapped up his set with "Sex Style," prompting a few boos from the crowd.

Nice & Smooth, who filmed the music video for "Hip Hop Junkies" at Orchard Beach 31 years ago, unfortunately ran out of time during their set to perform the song. Greg Nice left the stage towards the end of their set to perform some verses in the crowd, with Smooth B joking that he wasn’t going to join his partner offstage.

Soulsonic Force's set, which happened next, included their song with Afrika Bambaataa, "Planet Rock," and before that they played the beginning of City Girls’ single "Twerkulator" which samples their song, and brought out three dancers to twerk on stage.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and NY Senator Chuck Schumer made an appearance to speak about the resolution that was just passed to declare August 11th National Hip Hop Day, and presented a framed copy to Rocky Bucano, founder and Executive Director of the Universal Hip Hop Museum. Mayor Bill de Blasio also briefly spoke to the audience, which was followed by an impromptu freestyle battle between Ruben Diaz Jr. and State Senator Jamaal Bailey.

Kid Capri did a DJ set after the elected officials spoke, which was followed by the remaining performers: Kool Moe Dee, Slick Rick, and KRS-One. Kool Moe Dee performed a 15 minute set that included “How Ya Like Me Now,” and ended with “Wild Wild West." Slick Rick began his set with “The Show” and “La Di Da Di,” both songs featuring Doug E. Fresh, then went into “Children’s Story” and “Mona Lisa.” Slick Rick was as usual adorned in lots of jewelry, including a massive pendant of the continent of Africa dangling from a necklace, which was briefly worn by the mayor at one point.

The final set of the evening came from the Bronx’s very own KRS-One, who put on an extremely energetic performance. He started his set with a freestyle that was followed by Boogie Down Productions’ “South Bronx” and “The Bridge Is Over” from Criminal Minded. He then went into 1997's “Step Into a World (Rapture’s Delight)." He wasted no time, wanting to give his all before the show was scheduled to end at 9:30PM.

Homecoming Week continues Tuesday (8/17) at Midland Beach in Staten Island with Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and more; on Thursday (8/19) at Brooklyn Army Terminal in Brooklyn with Big Daddy Kane and more; and on Friday (8/20) at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens with George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. During Monday’s show, Ralph McDaniels said that DJ Hurricane will have special guests during his Friday set, and revealed that one of them will be DMC of Run DMC. Stay tuned for more.

Check out pictures and video clips from Monday's show below.

photos and recap by Edwina Hay.