Words by Jesse Serwer, Photos by Justin Pallack—
For the third consecutive year, LargeUp brought the bashment to what has become a Brooklyn holiday tradition: The Okayplayer Holiday Jam with the Roots. Some people (including us—hey, you gotta give where credit is due) have even taken to re-dubbing the Brooklyn Bowl-hosted event as the Okayplayer x LargeUp Holiday Jam on account of the unique cross-cultural vibes. Remember two years ago when Shaggy opened the show ‘longside Rahzel in dancehall riddim emulator mode, followed by the surprise appearance of the night from Queen Patra? Well, this year was kind of like that, too.
Following a stellar set by Reggie Watts, it was once again up to Rahzel to forward things towards the Caribbean. After he was forced to bumrush his way to the stage (a security guard actually tried to block him from assuming his MC duties) the Godfather of Noyze got things going by switching beatbox gears from the R&B version of “If I Ever Fall In Love” into Pliers’ “Bam Bam” (off Murder She Wrote/Bangarang riddim). Mr. Vegas emerged to perform “Heads High,” who set the tone in fine fashion before introducing Christopher Ellis to perform a version of his father Alton Ellis’ “I’m Still In Love With You,.” Vegas—in full MC mode— interjected lyrics from his classic Sean Paul collab “Hot Gyal Today,” who once had a hit of his own with the same song sung by the Ellis men.
Next, Addis Pablo was joined by his Suns of Dub cohort Jah Bami for a performance of his father Augustus Pablo’s “King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown” (The classic dub of Jacob Miller’s “Baby I Love You So”) while the Viking of Soca Bunji Garlin closed the session out with arguably the biggest tune in the Caribbean this year, “Differentology.” Astute watchers may have noticed the assist from his wife, Fay-Ann Lyons, on backing vocals.
The best part of it all might have been seeing the Jamaican contingent of The Roots—James Poyser, Captain Kirk and Frank Knuckles—freaking out during what was clearly a highlight of the night for them. Backstage meanwhile, Vegas, Bunji and co. mixed it up with a who’s who of hip-hop legends like Raekwon (whose “Incarcerated Scarfaces”-highlighted set closed out the show) and DJ Premier.
Click here to scroll through the photo gallery, head over to Okayplayer for the full, top-to-bottom recap of the night’s proceedings, and stay tuned to LargeUp.com for video of the aforementioned performances.