Date: May 23, 2012
Venue: Le Poission Rouge
City: New York, New York
Host: Black Thought
Performances by: Bush Babies, Doug E. Fresh, DJ Kid Capri among MANY others…..
Forward by Ron Worthy
Nearly twenty years ago, I met Danny Castro and Anthony Marshall during the New Music Seminar. I was a delegate from the mighty KZSU 90.1 FM Stanford Radio and had been hearing about Lyricist Lounge through the grapevine. So, it was indeed a pleasure to attend one of those earlier sessions during the seminar. These brothers have been doing it big from the beginning and have provided an unmistakably important platform that has endured the test of time. Dozens of artists owe their first big break to Lyricist Lounge and even artists past their prime have always found an audience hungry for authentic hip hop the way it was meant to be heard. No disrespects to the new artists on the scene since we dig a few of them, but the Lounge was the place to really learn and grow in the craft and culture of Hip Hop, something that is sorely missing these days.
By Jay Fingers
On Wednesday, May 23, NYC hip-hop aficionados converged upon Greenwich Village music venue Le Poisson Rouge to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Lyricist Lounge, a now-legendary open mic showcase that rose from humble beginnings to eventually become a cultural phenomenon, spawning a series of successful albums, concert tours, and an MTV sketch comedy series. The crowd was a varied mix of industry heads, b-boys and girls, hipsters, and music royalty.
Early in the evening, after an excellent set consisting of head-nod joints from DJs Rich Medina and Akalepse, founders Danny Castro and Anthony Marshall appeared on stage to give those in attendance a brief lesson on the history of Lyricist Lounge. An accompanying video showcased highlights from the past twenty years, including footage of then up-and-comers such as Eminem, Foxy Brown, Big Pun, M.O.P., Xzibit, Slum Village, and The Notorious B.I.G., just to name a few.
The evening’s host was Black Thought, lead MC of the legendary Philly hip-hop band The Roots. In black-and-white checkered fedora and fuchsia polo shirt, the man born Tariq Trotter wowed the crowd with truly impressive freestyle interludes interspersed between musical sets.
At one point, Thought was joined onstage by Brooklyn son Mos Def for a rousing performance of the classic joint “75 Bars,” a song that Thought jokingly admitted to not knowing as well as his guest. The two also paid tribute to The Beastie Boys Adam MCA Yauch, who passed away earlier this month after a three-year battle with throat cancer.
The other performances were stellar as well. True 90s hip-hop heads were bowled over by the appearance of Da Bush Babies, who performed several beloved tracks including the ever-memorable “Remember We.” Hip-hop newbie Homeboy Sandman also impressed the crowd with his rapid-fire delivery and lively, witty lyrics. At one point, he spit acapella, breaking down his lyrics to show the intricate lyricism of what some may have initially dismissed as another trite hip-hop love song.
Prodigy of Mobb Deep embodied thugged out swagger as he ripped through a litany of classics like “Survival of the Fittest,” “Keep It Thoro,” “Burn,” “Give Up the Goods,” and Shook Ones, Part 2. Though partner-in-rhyme Havoc was nowhere to be seen, Mobb affiliate Big Noyd made for a great hype man.
Kid Capri worked up a sweat as he ran through an extraordinary and electrifying mix of classic 90s hip-hop, imploring the crowd to sing along with each selection. His skill on the wheels and preternatural ability to read the crowd showed why Kid Capri is definitely one of the best to ever touch a turntable.
With additional guests in the building such as Kool Herc, Pharoahe Monch, Immortal Technique, Doug E. Fresh, and The Wires Michael K. Williams, it was apparent the love and respect for Lyricist Lounge has only grown in the past two decades. Their mission to provide a showcase for and give exposure to underground hip-hop acts has created a legacy that will surely last for many more decades to come.
Check out some of the incredible performances that happened last week:
Video Intro Montage
Mos Def & Black Thought – “Astronomy” and “Redefinition”
Black Thought Freestyle over Nas’ Represent beat
Dj Kid Capri Live @ The Lyricist Lounge 20th Anniversary (BTW, this is ILLLLLL)