New York City is the home, the birthplace of hip-hop and this past Sunday was the actual 40th birthday of this unstoppable global music and culture that was unceremoniously born at the Rec Room (a simple recreation room of an apartment building) at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx (aka the Boogie Down Bronx) back on August 11th, 1973 when Kingston, Jamaica born DJ Kool Herc (born Clive Campbell) had a party to celebrate his sister's (Cindy Campbell) birthday. The cost to get in was just 25cents (ladies) or 50cents (fellas) to help offset the basic costs. Fast forward 40 years to this past weekend and both Kool Herc and his sister Cindy celebrated this landmark with two big concert/parties in NYC at Summerstage in Central Park, Manhattan and at 5Pointz in Long Island City, Queens on Saturday and Sunday respectively. I already reviewed for the Amoeblog the Central Park 40th anniversary birthday concert party that included such legends as Coke La Rock, Soulsonic Force, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, DJ Red Alert, Roxanne Shante, Grand Wizzard Theodore, and Marley Marl. In this latest/44th New York State of Mind Amoeblog I will review Sunday's party at the graffiti mecca of 5Pointz as well as preview some of the many other big hip-hop concerts / events in NYC that are all part of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the music and culture (DJing, MCing, B-boying, and graffiti) that ironically was once considered by so many as merely a passing fad.
In much the same way as his set the previous day at Central Park's Summerstage shaped up so too did DJ Kool Herc's Sunday set at 5Pointz take it back to records available 40 years ago when there were no hip-hop records - just the funk records he played back then with the breaks, including lots of his hero James Brown, and such great records as Lightnin Rod's "Sport," Jimmy Castor Bunch's b-boy classic "It's Just Begun," and Tom Browne's "Funkin For Jamaica." As he played these Kool Herc's sister and business partner to this day Cindy grooved to the music offstage while b-boys and b-girls danced on the raised concrete 5Pointz stage area with a few hundred fans looking on swaying to the music. At one point as the 7 MTA train passed on the overhead elevated train tracks nearby Herc grabbed the mic and sent out a shootout to those passengers on the Manhattan bound train. Also onstage with Herc was Marley Marl who acted as the MC of the day, working the mic and giving shout-outs to everyone including those who grew up on hip-hop ("40, 50 plus crew make some noise") although the audience was a generation younger than those that celebrated day before in Central Park who would have fit this description. Herc played mostly records - although he had his laptop too - and lived up to his rep of being quite the crate digger since even Marley Marl did not know some of the records he was playing - and a few times leaned over Herc's turntables when he wasn't looking to see what record the founding father was playing which prompted Herc to later joke "Yo Marley I see you been biting!'"
While not performing a lot of artists from the day before were also present at 5Pointz including Juice Crew member Craig G. Large Professor was also in the house. After about an hour and a half of spinning Kool Herc took a break and Marley Marl jumped on the turntables to deliver a great set that included Big Daddy Kane's "Ain't No Half Steppin'" - a song that the emcee / fellow member of Marl's Juice Crew had performed live the day before in Central Park. Marley Marl also played "The Symphony" with everyone singing along to Kool G Rap's verse. Speaking of the Juice Crew and Marley Marl's beginnings the DJ / producer grow up in the Queensbridge Projects which is within walking distance from 5Pointz. All in all in a most feel good celebration with all ages participating and enjoying themselves. Toward the end of the early evening outdoor party Kool Herc shook hands with one of the several little kids that was breaking and the dancing to the music.
The celebration of hip-hop's 40th anniversary continues with more big events coming up in the weeks ahead including the remaining ones in the wonderful SummerStage This Is….Hip-Hop series. On August 26th & 27th are two must-attend concerts at East River Park in Lower Manhattan: Pete Rock vs DJ Premier (who are working on an anticipated album together) on August 27th, and the 30 year anniversary of Wild Style concert party on August 26th. Both of these free shows will be excellent but if you can only make one the Wild Style 30th Anniversary Celebration will be the one not to miss. It will feature performances and appearances from such folks as graf legend Lady Pink, emcee Busy Bee, Fab 5 Freddy, creator of the scratch Grand Wizzard Theodore, the Cold Crush Bros, the Fantastic 5, Lil Rodney Cee, the Rock Steady Crew and many more (expect some surprise appearances too). More info on all these park concerts here.
Meanwhile as Wild Style celebrates its 30 year anniversary and hip-hop its 40th, the ever excellent Tools of War True School summer Park Jam series celebrate their ten year anniversary. Profiled here on the Amoeblog in the past these park jams, under the passionate and knowledgeable management of Christie Z Pabon, are always incredible - not to mention always free - with a commitment to keeping it old school and real hip-hop. The series, which takes place once a week over the summer in various city parks, this month is featuring its Tuesday Digger's Delight sessions from 4pm to 8pm in Harlem at St. Nicholas Park (135th St. & St. Nicholas Ave) where Pabon promises that, "DJs bring out their funkiest but rarest tracks from back in the days that no one ever heard!"
Upcoming on August 20th will be DJs Supreme La Rock, Breakbeat Lou, Danny Dan, and Chairman Mao. Then on Tuesday August 27 will be DJs Jazzy Jay, Forrest Getemgump, Fabel, and Looie Loo with the (forever) host on all dates GrandMaster Caz of the aforementioned legendary Cold Crush Brothers. Then next month it will be the Tools of War True School Park Jams on Thursdays September 5, 12, 19 & 27th at The Concrete Plant Park in the Bronx (Sept 5 & 12) and the September 19 & 26 park location to be announced. The lineups for all four park jams have yet to be announced.