40th Anniversary of Hip-Hop Culture
Summerstage - Central Park, NYC
August 10, 2013
Call it divine providence or a tremendous coincidence, the 40th Anniversary of Hip-Hop Culture show was happening the weekend I was planning to come to New York City. Being a major hip-hop fiend, I knew that this show was a must see before I bounced out of town. It was worth every single second.
The show, part of New York City's Summerstage series of concerts, was held at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park. The basic show premise was to progress through the decades starting in the 1970s. Kool Herc started the day off on the turntables. He said that James Brown inspired him. Hip-Hop godfathers like Kool Herc have always cited James Brown as the first hip-hopper. The first emcee ever, Coke La Rock, came out rhyming a few lines.
Roxanne Shante, sporting a 1970s-style afro, served as host of the show. She did an excellent job of keeping the show moving between DJ set-ups. At one point, she brought out a vintage boombox during the 80s segment. She listens to some jams as she gets ready to go out. The afro comes off, she puts of some overalls, sneakers and proceeds to perform her song "Roxanne's Revenge".
Grand Wizard Theodore, acknowledged as the innovator of the scratch and needle drop technique, rocked the crowd with an enjoyable mix of late 70s/early 80s joints. Yes, he did some needle dropping - blindfolded with a record balanced on his head. Check the photo album above for that one.
Soul Sonic Force (Mr. Biggs, Pow Wow, G.L.O.B.E. & Cutman L.G.) performed "Looking For The Perfect Beat" and "Planet Rock". It was quite the surreal experience to hear these songs live for the first time. One of the many highlights of the show.
Marley Marl remixed the Greg Nice vocal from "Set It Off" in between hip-hop classics:
"Let's take it back to the [Rap Attack], let's take it to Union Square, let's take it back to [Mr. Magic], wave your hands like you just don't care!!!"
During Marley Marl's set, he brought out Hakim Green (Channel Live) for "Mad Izm", Craig G performed "Droppin' Science" & "The Symphony" and Fonda Rae performed "Over Like A Fat Rat". That got the crowd hype.
Back to Roxanne Shante. After she finished "Roxanne's Revenge" she explained that there wouldn't be a "Roxanne" Shante if it wasn't for UTFO. You can guess what happened next. Kangol Kid from UTFO came out and did "Roxanne Roxanne".
If that wasn't enough already, next up was my personal favorite DJ Premier. He played many of his classic songs capped off with "Dwyck".
DJ Red Alert did an all-vinyl set. Ironically, all these guys used to always do all vinyl sets. Yet another fun moment finally seeing a hip-hop icon perform live.
At this point in the show, I headed for the food venders for a refreshing snack. In the background, Skoob from Das EFX did a few classics. After finishing my food, I checked out the Summershop booth for some t-shirts. I ended up getting this one:
Before I left the show to catch a train back home, I watched Rakim literally move the crowd with his classics. Big Daddy Kane was coming on as I left the venue.
The 40th Anniversary of Hip-Hop Culture show was well-produced. The crowd, filled with three generations of hip-hop fans, was very energized. I can't tell you how many people I heard on the phone with friends saying something like "you have to get over here. [So-and-so] came out!" For me, being in New York, which spawned the culture, on the 40th Anniversary weekend was very special. It was special for everyone there. Hip-Hop Culture is still very strong.
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