Brookyn Hip-Hop Fest Preview

Just ask any street corner of Hip-Hoppers what their favorite Hip-Hop drinking song is. 2Pac, Nas, DJ Quik, Three-6-Mafia, and of course The Liks come to mind. For me, it’s always a toss up between “King Tee’s Beerstand” and KMD’s “Sweet Premium Wine.” But there is no toss-up in saying that live Hip-Hop and libations go together like Ashford and Simpson. But for real, how often does this blend do so much good for so many people?

The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival this Saturday is expected to satisfy well over 2,000 fans in dire need of some serious neck protection. But while the event is housed at the Hip-Hop historic [word to 3rd Bass] Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg, you need not be of drinking age or a drinker to get in and enjoy yourself. Just ask one of the show headliners, Rhymefest: “I don’t drink at all. I have a natural high.” The sober, but never docile Rhymefest joins legendary crew, Brand Nubian, as well as the epitome of success stories, Little Brother in a show that’s free for all who wish to attend.

The event was the brainchild of Wes Jackson, and has been organized by Alma Geddy-Romero, both known for their visions behind 7Heads/Room Service, a Brooklyn-based Hip-Hop label and marketing firm, among other ventures. Having attended school with Brewery sales manager, Robin Ottaway, the duo dreamed of a Hip-Hop event in their backyard in the vein of The Newport Jazz Festival. As it would seem, the opportunity presented itself.

In addition to the three major acts, underground mainstays like Medina Green, Kon & Amir, and Geology are set to perform as well. Naturally, as people swig the quality swill of Brooklyn Brewery, they’ll be listening to artists who have crossed paths with the 7Heads/Room Service team over the years. In true Hip-Hop tradition, the response is up to the artists – who are performing on the strength of love for the event, and the crowd. New Yorkers haven’t been treated to a free “rile up” this big since John Rocker opened his mouth five years ago.

Brand Nubian is thrilled to be providing some highlights, and according to Lord Jamar, they see it as a responsibility. “We gonna do the songs you came to hear, the ones you know and love. We gonna do it in such a way that it’s gonna have some entertainment to it,” said the legendary MC. Fans can expect to see not only the seminal early work, but material from the underrated Fire In The Hole album released last year. The group will be in full tact, minus DJ Alamo, who will be replaced by Jamar’s brother, DJ Reality.

Rhymefest, an artist likely to blow to massive heights in the mainstream consciousness this year, will also be with his producer/DJ, Mark Ronson. Early in the week, some Brooklyn officials were “less than pleased” to learn that they were zoning for a Hip-Hop event. Despite his Chicago nativity, Rhymefest took offense and responded to the skepticism, “When they think about Hip-Hop, they think about 50 Cent or Mike Jones. Sometimes for people to have to understand how non-threatening something is, they just have to see.” And if those furrowed brows enter the event, Rhymefest has something for them and their archaic thinking: “Rap music is the new leadership. The old guards at the gate don’t feel comfortable sometimes, passing the torch. Sometimes the torch has to be taken from them.” In legendary tradition, the eyes are on Hip-Hop to show, no matter how small the scale, that it’s not all chain-snatchery and rat mascots.

Many fans are likely to flock to see a true New York performance by a group whose producer has almost single-handedly given metro luminaries like Buckshot, Jean Grae, and Memphis Bleek some of their best work to date. Little Brother will be in the house with fried up Soul samples underneath memorable Pooh and Phonte verses from 2003’s The Listening as well as perhaps some sneaks towards their Atlantic debut, The Minstrel Show. As KRS-One says, “bring your tape recorders!”

For dessert, only possibilities remain. On a summer weekend, many in attendance may not be New Yorkers. This is an event that can bring neighborhoods and businesses plenty of outside commerce from traffic. It can also bring dozens of local Hip-Hoppers in to see their friends, greet their fans, and get up. That being said, fans not familiar with the history of New York event may want to expect some added fanfare. At least two Juice Crew alums are said to be in attendance, and ready to rip. The Native Tongues is equally likely to be in the house. With Rhymefest in New York, is it unreasonable to wonder if fans may even get treated to a popped-collar Polo performance? The possibilities are as endless as the lineup of acts rocking in the name of Hip-Hop.

So get there early [once you leave, reentry is questionable], save room for that Pale Ale, bring your tape recorders and camera phones to capture the festivities, and in between seeing your favorite artist and discovering your next, stop by the table and holler! [unless you lookin’ for that money Illseed owes, then… go thaaaat way!]