LIVE: Lyricist Lounge 20 Year Anniversary, Le Poisson Rouge
by Keya Maeesha
I love Hip-Hop. The way the culture has been able to infiltrate itself into my everyday being has just been amazing. To wake up and know that I am actually “about that life” makes my day easier. Having a bad day? Listen to “Dear God 2.0″ by The Legendary Roots Crew. Need to get ready for that Memorial Day cookout? Play that joint “The Cool Out” by Black Spade featuring Vandalyzm and El Prez. And for the summer? Please! You know the summer hasn’t officially come into play until the radio starts rocking “Summertime” by Will Smith. These are just a few examples of the Hip-Hop culture I love. It is not one sided and there are no set formulas or ways to make it successful. You put out GOOD music, people will find it. Loyal Hip-Hop fans are not that hard to come by. Don’t believe me? You should have been at Le Poisson Rouge on May 23rd to understand just exactly what I mean. The sold out venue hosted the 20th Anniversary of the Lyricist Lounge. Fans, avid hip hop heads, music enthusiasts, aspiring deejays, random curious neighborhood folks, and out of towners all attended this show, making it probably one of the most successful shows ever held at LPR.
Hosted by the awesome Black Thought, the Lounge event opened with an epic set from DJ Rich Medina. This moment was about the classics. Medina spun some of the favorites for the head nodders in the audience. Folks were hitting the wop while waiting for the show to start. A video introduction to the Lyricist Lounge began to show on the screen behind the DJ booth. All you could hear were the cheers when artists such as Foxy Brown, KRS-One, Biggie Smalls, Q-Tip, Fat Joe, and Big Pun were shown on the screen. Anthony Marshall and Danny Castro have been doing this for years, so there is no surprise by the crowd’s reaction. It is a testament that people continue to love Hip-Hop music and progressive movement in the culture. In order to show their gratitude to the audience and continued admiration for the music, it was only right that the show opened with a classic group. J. Period took the stage as the first act was introduced. Da Bush Babees opened the show performing some of their hits such as “The Love Song” and “We Run Things”. Although Y-Tee was unable to make it out to the show, the group performed with high energy and was able to bring the feeling that Hip-Hop gives to the crowd. Before leaving the stage (that they already ruined), Da Bush Babees performed “Mind Control”, which came out in 2010. Brooklyn’s own, Homebody Sandman, then came and took the energy to cloud 11. Performing most tracks from his album “The Good Sun”, Sandman is known for being one on one with his audience. It is always a good time when he performs “Not Pop”. I even appreciate the new track he released (just for us ladies who also love Hip-Hop) called “Love Joint”, which will be featured on his album set to be released this summer.
You can’t have a Hip-Hop show without something a little more…gritty. Out walks Prodigy and his entourage. Crowd goes wild. It. Was. A. Wrap! I’m pretty sure someone was trampled in the midst of the excitement when he walked on stage. This man performed maybe every single Mobb Deep song you could think of that was a hit and all with a smile on his face. There was no doubt that he was happy to be a part of this tremendous event. Big Noyd, who served as his partner in lyrics for the night, brought an additional element to the stage. The two of them together is a combustion of dopeness. To keep the flow going, Immortal Technique then took over. Although he only performed a short set, his most memorable performance was his new song “Toast To The Dead” in memory of J. Dilla. Black Thought returns to the stage later to bring out special guest and friend, Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def). The two of them together rock “75 Bars” which is known to be Black’s dopest set of lyrics he’s ever laid on a track. Michael K. Williams (from the Wire) and the legendary Kool Herc were also in attendance, showing their love and support for Hip-Hop.
Now…I’ve been to a lot of shows (and I mean A LOT), but nothing topped seeing DJ Kid Capri. I’m not even sure if I can adequately describe to you to the awesomness that occured on that stage when he put on his headphones and took us through a journey of…I don’t know…I’m sure I can’t say “deliciousness” because I mainly use that for food. However, I think you get the point. You had to be there. It was just that sick. I….I stood in awe of the genius and watched him work that LPR audience like this was the last hip hop show they would ever attend. And just when you thought you had enough, Doug E. Fresh comes on stage and introduces the “Emcee Cypher”. Eternia, my favorite rapper in a skirt (that is actually her mantra..cute right?), opened and closed that cypher. She shared her energy all up and through that crowd, rocking with two mics and even getting into the middle of floor. The other emcees of the cypher, Sara Kana and Farrah Burns, dropped ill bars and showed true Hip-Hop lyricism. Anyone who says women can’t rap clearly haven’t met these three. I dare you to challenge them. You might lose.
Events such as Lyricist Lounge are the reason why Hip-Hop will always continue to thrive in this world. True Hip-Hop never celebrates the pomp and circumstance around the music. The authenticity of lyrics, energy in the freestyle, history in the hearts, and connection to the audience will win every time. This is what the culture is about. The movement is not about standing still. It is about carrying a beautiful history forward. I like that.
Shout out to Jah C ( aka @TheGreatHustler) for working the hell out of the event as the production manager. Also special thanks to Corey Thompson (@Photoleer) of Photoleer Photography for the dope photos.