LL Cool J turned his Saturday set at The Meadows Music & Arts Festival into a classic hip-hop dance party, packed with special guests and hits from his legendary career.
“I know most of y’all never been to an LL Cool J show,” he told the Saturday afternoon crowd gathered in the shadow of Citi Field for the second day of the three-day festival in Flushing. “You’re like, ‘He host the Grammys this year. He got ‘Lip Sync Battle.’ What he know about hip-hop?”
The Bay Shore native quickly proceeded to show not just what he knows, but also who he knows.
Following a hard-hitting opening of “Mama Said Knock You Out,” “Jack the Ripper” and “I’m Bad,” LL Cool J and DJ Z-Trip brought out A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip to mash together LL’s “Doin’ It” with Q-Tip’s “Vivrant Thing.” Then, Jarobi White joined them for the Tribe Called Quest classic “Award Tour.”
But the guests didn’t stop there. D.M.C., who will soon release his new solo album on West Babylon’s Brookvale Records, arrived to talk about how he found LL inspirational, before they delivered the Run-D.M.C. standouts “Peter Piper” and “It’s Tricky.” Even more Rock and Roll Hall of Famers followed D.M.C., as Melle Mel and Scorpio from The Furious Five joined LL for a booming version of “The Message.”
“We can’t forget where we came from,” LL said, explaining his set’s early start time by saying he had to return to the West Coast to film “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “find terrorists.” “I’m not just an actor and a host. I’m a rapper, too.”
To punctuate that point — which may also explain why he will become the first rapper to receive the nation’s highest award for a performer in December when he is honored by the Kennedy Center — LL offered a crushing version of “Rock the Bells.”
Almost immediately after that song ended, Amityville’s De La Soul began its set on The Meadows’ American Eagle stage, touching off a mad dash across the Citi Field parking lot. Posdnuos, Dave and Maseo continued the classic hip-hop party vibe, with crowd-pleasing hits like “Me, Myself and I” and “Buddy.”