Rain clouds were gathering along with the crowd at Central Park’s Summerstage, but this didn’t stop the fans of Schoolboy Q from partying. Kids in bucket hats, jerseys sneakers – and even plastic ponchos – crowded into the Rumsey Playfield amphitheater, eager for a performance by the Man of the Year. Hype for surprise guests had been strong on twitter, but no one anticipated the hefty roster of the best in hip hop to grace the stage with Q. In the course of just two hours A$AP Ferg, A$AP Rocky, Flatbush Zombies, Action Bronson, and Ab-Soul all hit the stage as surprise guests, making the Summer Stage experience overflow with talent and turn up.
The show’s billing was already noteworthy. R&B up-and-comer Tinashe started things off sexy and Domo Genesis added in his lyrical skater rap vibe. The crowd was feeling both the openers, with many of the young attendees already noticeably partying and bopping along. Blunt smoke was mixing into the light rain as the sun started to dip below the trees when the Black Out Boyz – made up of A$AP Yams and A$AP Jscott – hit the stage.
Suddenly during the set, the Flatbush Zombies burst from backstage, bringing a huge influx of energy. The Zombies always deliver, jumping and singing their hits “MRAZ” while the audience sang every word. This song, and the Zombies showing up has become ubiquitous with New York hip-hop in a unique way. With just three mixtapes and no radio play, the Zombies manage to steal the show every time. There is something classic about the viral hit “MRAZ” that will stay with the NYC scene for awhile.
It’s well known the A$AP’s move in packs, and tonight was no exception. After the Zombies relinquished the stage, the Trap Lord himself A$AP Ferg appeared like a heavenly vision. He demolished his hit “Shabba Ranks” with about 50 other A$AP randoms on stage, and the audience lost their mind. Ferg knows how to turn up, and the slight rain transformed into a baptism of ratchetness by the Hood Pope.
After a short break and DJ interlude by Austin Millz, it was time. Schoolboy Q hit the stage wearing in his trademark bucket at and a weather-appropriate white tank top, and immediately toked off a fans blunt. He started off with “Californication”, then performed tracks off Oxymoron and his mixtapes. Schoolboy Q screamed “Extra pills!” over and over on “Druggies wit Hoes Again”, and rapped all of Ab Soul’s verse flawlessly.
Suddenly, the beat for “Brand New Guy” dropped, and A$AP Rocky strolled onstage in white shorts, his trademark braids swinging. Together, they performed “PMW” as well as the “Work” remix, which brought Ferg back onto the stage. The trifecta of three of the hottest rappers today was too much for the audience, and girls were jumping on guy’s shoulders as the bros moshed around them.
After Rocky and Ferg departed, Q plays a few more songs, including “Gangsta”. Just as it felt like the show was wrapping up, Ab-Soul ran on stage to join his TDE brother. He performed “Dub Sac”, and transitioned into new tracks from his album These Days. Then, to take it to another level, Action Bronson joined Soulo on stage for his new song “Stigmata,” demolishing the crowd. Ab-Soul united with Schoolboy to end his guest appearance with the turn up anthem “Hunnid Stax.” The energy between the two performers was palpable.
After this final guest, Schoolboy finished his set strong with “Man of the Year”. He jumped into the crowd, bucket hat and all, and was held aloft by a sea of young fans – a rockstar in every way.
This show will go down as an Internet hip hop fans wet dream. Top lyricists -many of whom have current radio hits – all on one stage in Central Park. It felt like r/hiphophead’s version of a perfect summer festival. Kendrick was the only addition that was lacking, and with this many other artists showing up, his presence wasn’t missed. The love shown between these acts – who came from different parts of the country and are signed to different labels – was remarkable. All these rappers shared the same fans, and it was the perfect synergy between all of them. This Summe rStage show proved there is nothing like summer in the park to bring people, or rappers, together.