Nothing clears the mind like a road excursion in excess of 10 hours. That’s where I found myself a few times in recent weeks. Most times in those moments of reflection we have the fondest of memories. Especially if your playlist is on-point. Traffic in the Woodrow Wilson Bridge area had reached the bumper-to-bumper level and allowed for a moment to grab one of the unmarked CDs I roll with and with those joints blaring, a whole new journey had begun. Joint after joint after joint of that East Coast, West Coast worldwide, Boom Bap, original rap!! Imagine just how diverse, creative and impactful that golden era of hip hop really was. One of the most distinguishable aspects of that era was the ability to hear the drop-off of skill level. While wackness was able to creep in, for the most part with crews like Native Tongues, Juice Crew, BDP, the Hit Squad, an assembly line of bangers would stay hitting the streets. Somehow the tide turned so drastically that a rapper that could actually RAP (content, wordplay, flow) became such an anomaly that a call to bring back real hip hop crept into the lexicon and has never left.
In the early ’90s a pair of staunch hip hop heads, regular dudes, Danny Castro and Anthony Marshall, put together a series of showcases in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to help feed that segment of purist, determined to uphold the standards of dopeness that was established and for the growth of the culture help exceed. That gesture was identified as the Lyricist Lounge and that showcase grew into a brand through which hip hop practitioners (emcees, dj’s and graffiti artists) could reach a worldwide audience through various outlets. Aside from the multitude of open mic events, it evolved into concerts, albums and documentary films. MTV developed a sketch comedy series, “The Lyricist Lounge Show,” that propelled underground acts Wordsworth, BabeePower, and Master Fuol into the limelight and was an early stomping ground for a young actress/comedienne Tracee Ellis Ross. Over the course of the 30-plus years of its existence some of the names that have been featured were A listers, big-name talent: Dave Chappelle, Jay Z, 50 Cent, Eminem, Notorious B.I.G., Sean “Diddy” Combs, The Black-Eyed Peas, The Roots, Tracy Morgan, Cee Lo and Common.
It’s only fitting that Lyricist Lounge will celebrate the 30-plus year anniversary of its iconic brand with an event at the legendary Apollo Theater on April 16, 2022. Adhering to the reputation of curating authentic, high-quality hip hop talent, the Lyricist Lounge 30th Anniversary Celebration presents the lineup of DJ Kid Capri, Bahamadia, Grand Puba, Mr. Cheeks, Buckshot, CL Smooth, Cru. Large Professor, Rah Digga and Talib Kweli. Top billing goes to the emcee referred to by Rolling Stone as the “conscience of hip hop,” “the greatest live cee ever” by The Source magazine, and “the spokesperson for hip hop” by the Wall Street Journal is the Blast Master KRS One. Those are just the names that have been announced. Anything can happen with that level of history and talent in the room!
Over and out. Holla next week, til then, enjoy the nightlife. Also just got word that the date of The Spring Benefit, the Apollo’s signature fundraiser, has been announced for June 13, 2022, and Tyler Perry will be honored with the Impact Award. More on that later. I’m gone.