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Strictly Lyrics in Central Park
Written by: Ricky Santiago
Photos by: Danya Steele


A large diverse crowd turned up for the free Lyricist Lounge concert in Central Park July 9, celebrating the art of rhythm as it is expressed through rap, spoken word, percussion instruments, and dance. Renowned old school rapper Doug E. Fresh flew out from way out in California just to mc this non-profit event, as DJ Evil Dee provided a wide variety of beats, both old school and new school.

In today’s society, the word “rap” connotes flashy clothes and an attitude of violence and misogyny. Hip-hop and rap music is often criticized for being less about art and more about image. Chart topping rappers climb their way to the top by developing the grittiest image and playing to the public’s growing thirst for the negativity that can sometimes be found in rap. That is why it is so refreshing to find that there are still artists out there that regard rap and hip-hop as an art form that relies on the skillful usage of rhythm and lyrics.

The crowd’s hip hop knowledge was tested as the human beat box, Tahir, and drummers, Swiss Chris and Stix Bones, recreated popular hip hop beats to warm up the crowd. As the crowd began to fill in, spoken word artists such as Vanessa and Black Ice laid down some a caoekka rhymes that touched on issues of fatherhood and multiculturalism.

Dance sets were mixed into the concert as rapper Tara break-danced to beats provided by turntables while Akim Da Funk Buddah performed some kung-fu choreography. To further emphasize the universality of rhythm in different art forms, opera singer Marie Claire sang a freestyle hip hop rendition of an opera song. Hardcore underground rap fans were also satisfied as rappers Rays, Wordsworth, and Buckshot closed the end of the show. Guests Renee Neufille, from the r&b group Zhane, and reggae artist Little Vicious performed crowd pleasing renditions of their popular hits over beats provided by Doug E. Fresh. Despite one mishap concerning a member of the rap group BCC, who refused to leave the stage after his set was over, the night went smoothly. Overall, hip-hop fans enjoyed the diverse mix of artists and performances.


Lyricist Lounge, Volume One

Summer Stage in Central Park


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