When it comes to showcasing where hip-hop’s creativity comes from, and where it’s true positive nature is going, hands down the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival has it on lock. The festival, run by Wes Jackson, President of Brooklyn Bodega, and supported by names such as Decon Media, is an annual celebration of music, culture, and history, all bundled up in one of hip-hop’s cradles, Brooklyn.
Print, one of last year’s performers, is a self-written, self-producing, jazz, rock influenced hip-hop MC, who can testify to the positive artistic spirit that the festival encompasses amongst its goers. This year, his tour is being sponsored by Brooklyn Bodega, which encourages real people, and real MC artistry. A group who epitomizes this statement, and is also to hit the stage this year, is five membered Sputnik Brown. From Brooklyn to Washington D.C., Sputnik Brown debunks the once trendy logo ‘Hip-Hop is Dead’. They example the young boys and girls who grew up to become men and women, professionals and school teachers, fathers and mothers who still remain loyal to an art that exceeds just a genre. This can be best understood with the answer to one question, “Do you prefer MC or rapper?,” and without hesitation the best of Sputnik Brown responds, “MC, the lyrical poet, or master of the ceremony.”
This sentiment is echoed by Waajeed and Saadiq of the Platinum Pied Piers, also to perform at this year’s event. Saadiq, who hails from Detroit says, “The creative energy in Brooklyn these days reminds me of Detroit in the 80’s and 90’s.” It is for this reason, along with fellow group member Waajeed, also a native of Detroit , the two have made the borough their home and place of creative pulling. The Abundance album, which is soon to drop, can be non-categorically appreciated as funk, rock, soul, and even bossa nova inspired hip-hop.
Having formed a partnership over the years, the two describe the creative process to reaching pass the commercial as, “Selfless. Letting the music flow and just being a witness to it.” Waajeed says, “You have to separate yourself from the world,” “Yeah,” comments Saadiq, “I’m just a tool from a higher power.” When asked what is missing from the new generation of what is recognized as hip hop, Waajeed interjects quickly with, “Originality. Producers today lack originality. They are too cookie cutter and do not take enough risks.” Saadiq nods with, “All of it is soul, techno, bossa nova, people need to connect. This new generation doesn’t reach back enough. Instead, sometimes I feel like they see music as a way to get out of a situation. Music as a hustle.”
I agree, however, at the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival, the cookie cutter molds are broken, and truth reigns supreme on the stage, and in the voice of the MC’s to take the stage. What makes this possible? The true leaders and pioneers of hip hop have organized to claim the game back. A generation of hip-hop connoisseurs who grew up in pre-commercialized, and pre-appropriated hip hop culture. The on-the-scene players and movers of what has become a global phenomenon, which all started in the NYC. So when asked, what do you prefer, Rapper or MC? What’s your response? If it’s MC, see you at the Brooklyn Hip Hop 2008 Festival. Peace!
BY ARNALDO BERNABE, JR.