By Mesfin Fekadu
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK _ The NBA All-Star Game is not until Sunday, but hip-hop music’s all-star team _ featuring Diddy, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Dr. Dre, Nas and others _ played in top form at a New York City concert Thursday night.
Snoop Dogg and Diddy hosted the show for radio station Hot 97 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, which also included Lil Kim, T.I., Doug E. Fresh and The Lox.
The multi-hour event kicked off with a video of Marion “Suge” Knight dissing Diddy at the 1995 Source Awards. After, Diddy emerged as the audience roared, performing the late ’90s hit, “Victory.” Knight has been charged with murder in a deadly hit-and-run last month.
“I also came here to set some (expletive) right, as y’all saw on the screen. That negative energy started right here, right on this very stage,” Diddy said. “If you about positivity, make some noise. So that’s what this is about, man. This is setting that scene straight, as if we can go back, but we can’t. But we get to celebrate on this stage.”
Instead of beef, Diddy and Dogg wanted to promote peace among East and West Coast rappers.
Diddy _ still called Puff Daddy by some of his fans _ went on to perform a catalogue of his hits, getting assists from Busta Rhymes and Jermaine Dupri at the top of the show as West and Kim Kardashian watched from the side of the stage.
West hit the stage, too, performing “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” as his wife filmed him with her phone. The outspoken rap star even directed the camera operator filming the show, telling the person to move around more.
“More action,” he yelled. “This is hip-hop.”
The night was a mix of old and new school _ but the common denominator was hit songs. Dre joined Dogg _ who entered the stage in an onesie and changed three other times _ to rap West Coast anthems, while former Bad Boy Records signees 112, Faith Evans and Black Rob performed alongside Diddy.
Diddy, who also changed multiple times, handed two bottles of alcohol to fans upfront, and Dogg even passed one man a joint.
Other guests at the show included younger rappers, such as Big Sean, 2 Chainz, French Montana, A$AP Ferg, O.T. Genasis of “CoCo” fame and iLoveMakonnen, whose hit “Tuesday” was nominated for a Grammy Award last weekend.
Nas was one of the highlights, performing “Hate Me Now” and “Made You Look,” while Naughty by Nature hit the stage to perform classics like “O.P.P.” and “Hip Hop Hooray.”
Rap group The Lox and Lil Kim joined Diddy onstage with back-to-back jams, including “Money, Power, Respect.” Notorious B.I.G. videos played in the background _ as did one from Tupac Shakur _ while the crowd and rappers danced excitedly. A choir joined Diddy, Evans and 112 for “I’ll Be Missing You,” the song dedicated to the late B.I.G.
“I do this song for him,” Diddy said, looking to the crowd. “I know you got somebody special up there.”
But the night didn’t end on a sad note _ most of the performers hit the stage to celebrate with the classic, “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”