First and foremost, infinite props and respect for the Rock Steady Crew for holding it down for 33 years! Longevity is a word not associated with Hip Hop as much as we would like, Rock Steady has certainly more than earned its stripes there.
Of course, growing up on Hip Hop in the late 70s/early 80s, I always had dreams of visiting the Hip Hop Mecca, New York. It started with pre-teen fantasies of hanging out with the pioneers at a park jam. That evolved into loosely formed goals of competing in the New Music Seminar MC Battle. However, by the time I was old enough and financially able to actually make the trip, the most intriguing draw was making it out to a Rock Steady Crew and/or Zulu Nation Anniversary. I made those trips several times in the mid to late 90’s, and each time was an amazing experience; one even actually leading to my job at Rhymesayers, but that’s a whole other story. At some point, my semi-regular trips to New York faded away.
As I was preparing to launch this site and pondering all the people I wanted to connect with for interviews, and I knew that several trips to New York were going to be essential. When deciding the best time to make that trip, once again Rock Steady Anniversary made for the perfect time.
I caught an early flight on the morning of Sunday, August 1st and landed in New York about Noon. I jumped on the first shuttle bus available on my way straight to Newark for the Rock Steady Event. However, I didn’t anticipate it taking about 3 hours to get there. Once I hit the park, things were already in full effect. The park was packed with people of all age groups, but when the hosts (End Of The Weak) did an “age check” call-and-response, the 30 and over crowd was definitely holding it down. At some point during the day they announced that the attendance was the largest over their 33-year history, which is pretty monumental if that’s accurate—33 Years later and still growing.
The power of Hip Hop is hardly ever more clearly evident than how I feel when I’m in New York; it fills me with a certain kind of energy. There’s a sense of pride for dedicating my life to this culture and being able to experience it’s past, present, and future in it’s birthplace*. My youthful energy is fully charged and I “feel” like I could jump in the breaking circle or rhyme cipher with as much raw ability and intensity as I did in the 80’s or 90’s; though before actually going for it, reality sets in on how out of shape and practice I am, thus adverting embarrassment or harmed limbs. Even the act of experiencing a New York show, particularly with legends gracing the stage, is a moment unto itself.
RSC 2010 was no different. Throughout the day I saw a diverse range of artists grace the stage: EPMD, Dres of Black Sheep, Immortal Technique, Lakim Shabazz, Chill Rob G, Mickey Factz, DJ Scratch, Tony Touch, Greg Nice (Human Beat Box skills still in tact), Joell Ortiz, Cannibus, Do It All (Of LOTUG), Homeboy Sandman, Big Daddy Kane, DJ Evil D, etc. That’s just who I personally saw rock, and I certainly missed a lot of the other acts that were scheduled plus surprise guests.
These events, and often New York in general, are also great just for the people you might run into while walking around. Over the course of 6 hours I crossed paths with DJ Premier, Craig G, Nocturnal (Hit Squad), Pharoahe Monch, Psycho Les (Beatnuts), Kurious, and many others that happened to quickly remember. Not to mention all the people I thought I recognized or looked familiar. All in all, the event left me feeling like I had been missing out all these years by not maintaining my annual attendance. I spent the next couple days in New York on a mission knocking out interviews for the blog. I was able to complete 13 full length, career-spanning interviews in that time, so stay tuned for some really interesting, entertaining and mostly untold stories.
Most of my time was spent in Brooklyn, the city with more neighborhoods then any place else on earth…ha, and I loved it. There’s so much character to the city. I kept thinking that “New York” had changed—the city was cleaner than I remembered, the people on the streets and subways were more culturally diverse, and so on, but I left wondering if it was just a Brooklyn thing since I hadn’t spent much time there before. New York, in general, felt and looked safer than ever**. The city that never sleeps is also the king of convenience with easy transportation via subways and trains as well as an endless selection of food options, even for a veganarian***, to inspire the glutton in all of us. New York still has its issues though. They really need to figure out a better solution for trash, and never have I been anywhere and witnessed so many intense, emotionally charged cell phone arguments. Love hurts deeper in New York, apparently. Of course, the pros far outweighed the cons and I’m already planning my next NYC trip for October.
Shout outs to all the people who held me down, hooked me up, or sat down for an interview in some shape or fashion in New York: Inkala & Issac Household (special shout to Greta), Optiks, Fat Beats (DJ Jab & the whole staff was great!!), Masai Bey, Duro, Judgmental, Homeboy Sandman, 2 Hungry Brothers, Custodian Of Records, J Skratch, Chill Rob G, TR Luv & Moe Love of Ultra Foundation (+ crew), Sadat X, Shawn Black, Son Of Bazerk, Johnny Juice, Kidd Jazz a.k.a J Swagga, Cracker Jax, Kamron (YBT), Mr. Len, Sucio, and so on…
For more info on Rock Steady: http://www.rocksteadycrew.com/
*Ok, the actual show was in Newark, NJ, but you get the point peoples…
**Of course, no matter where you are, you should always remain aware of you surroundings and practice “smartness” in the streets…and beyond ☺
***Veganarian = person who doesn’t eat meat and isn’t particularly fond of the taste of diary nor what it does to the stomach, but doesn’t mind eating things which contain diary such as cupcakes, pancakes and other scrumptious things…
-Written By Kevin Beacham