Black August Rocks Brooklyn

On August 10, the jump-off was the Brooklyn Café as the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement presented their annual Black August benefit concert featuring Erykah Badu, dead prez and the Boot Camp Clik amongst a host of other talented performers.

Black August is a tradition established to honor and bring awareness to the fallen soldiers and political prisoners of the revolutionary struggle for the liberation of the western hemisphere’s oppressed people. The purpose of the Black August concert is to place hip-hop within the larger context of history and politics, a personification of the “it’s bigger than hip-hop mantra” that simultaneously enlightens, uplifts and entertains.

This year Revolutionary but Gangsta vibes permeated the premises as poets Black Ice and Tehut 9, worked the audience into frenzies with their poetics and punchlines. The crowd roared as Black Ice advised rappers to own their masters and Tehut admonished hip-hop to reverse itself and take it back to the basics.

Standout performances included an appearance from the queen of neo-soul, Erykah Badu, dead prez, Jeru Tha Damaja and the Boot Camp Clik. The hometown favorites set the stage ablaze with Smif N Wessun’s performances of “Sound B’woy Burial” and their Brooklyn-specific but any-ghetto-applicable anthem “Bucktown.” The set capped with a bare-chested Buckshot and 5ft spitting new material from the upcoming Black Moon album and an audience awing a cappella by Smif-N-Wessun.

dead prez left heads hushed hanging on to their every hymn as the blasted classic fare and banged brains with selections from their next collection of socio-political poetics, “Get Free or Die Trying.” Despite the heat, humidity and sound problems that plagued several of the sets, much love was extended throughout the evening including an energetic, albeit incongruous, set from Keith Murray that showed and proved that adding on to the cause isn’t limited to the usual suspects.

Black August now heads to Cuba for its annual performance at the Cuban Hip Hop Festival and then rounds out the month with performances in Chicago on the 29th and Atlanta on the 30th.