Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Wednesday Evening in Brownsville: SummerStage presents Special Ed at Betsy Head Park
After spending a few weeks in Phoenix, we discovered it was even hotter (or at least felt it) when we returned to Brooklyn to catch the old school rapper and Flatbush native Special Ed tonight at Betsy Head Park (or Playground, to those of who go way back) in Brownsville.
It was a great show with a surprisingly large crowd, given the high temperature. The rhymes in Special Ed's classic "I Got It Made"
still sound fresh decades later;
no wonder why it's the penultimate lyric in Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois's Anthology of Rap, which we've used in our classes.
This was the second night in the SummerStage season-long series of events at parks in all five boroughs and on their main venue at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park.
At their tent we got a copy of their book
featuring the SummerStage schedule of many amazing shows from here on until early September.
Special Ed opened with the inevitable "Is Brooklyn in the house?" before saying hi to Brownsville and invoking the Flatbush of his upbringing (ours too; sixty years ago we were a four-day-old infant hanging out just seven blocks from here at Brookdale [then Beth-El] Hospital) waiting for our bris on June 11, 1951.
He gave shoutouts to Erasmus and Tilden and his own high school, South Shore (our youngest brother's too) and for us, the show was great. Being awash in nostalgia can be refreshing on a night like tonight.
We last saw Special Ed a couple of summers ago at the Crooklyn Dodgers reunion show in Prospect Park, and the Jamaican-American hip-hop star was again in good form tonight, bringing back memories of the late 80s and the 90s. No longer kinda young, Special Ed's tongue speaks maturity more than ever.
Surprise guests included neighborhood natives Rack-Lo and Smoothe da Hustler, the inventive UG and Phantasm from Cella Dwellas.
With a great DJ behind him and bringing on Romey Rome to show off his moves without showing signs of age, Special Ed put on a terrific show at Betsy Head.
The crowd appreciated it. This neighborhood is often underserved in many ways by the city.
As Special Ed noted, he shot a video right by the el station just outside the park on Livonia Avenue. This area, and the surrounding communities, have contributed so much to American culture.
We saw Roy Ayers here at Betsy Head last year, and it's great of SummerStage to bring a few nights of free open-air shows to the Ville again.