Hip-hop heads got a full dose of all the culture’s elements at Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival’s Juice Hip-Hop Exhibit on Friday (July 15). Roaming the large, spacious St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, attendees saw a talented mix of DJing, rapping, dancing and visual art.
After an old school hip-hop set by DJ Midnite and a few warm-up freestyles and dance sessions, Chicago rapper Taylor Bennett, who is also Chance The Rapper's brother, officially started the set of performances. He burst onto stage with the high-energy song “Speedracer,” gradually earning the crowd’s trust until they were waving their arms along with him for “Dancing in the Rain,” the Donnie Trumpet-assisted ballad from Bennett’s 2015 debut, Broad Shoulders.
Bennett was followed by up-and-coming emcee Nick Grant. Grant is known for his deadly freestyles at places like Sway in the Morning, and his performance on Friday lived up to the hype he has been building for himself. He performed songs from his ‘88 mixtape, like “Black Sinatra” and the socially conscious “Gold Chains,” but he undoubtedly captured the crowd’s respect from his blistering a capellas. After Grant’s performance, DJ Kat Daddy Slim kept the crowd moving with a set of Southern songs.
With most of the show focusing on rhyming and DJing, Chrybaby Cozie and Lite Feet Nation brought their Harlem-bred dancing to the stage. About seven members took their turns break dancing and contorting their bodies on stage as songs like G. Dep’s classic “Special Delivery” blared through the speakers.
Kerim the DJ closed out the DJ sets with a deftly mixed collection of newer songs, and Brooklyn emcee Your Old Droog held down his borough with the final performance of the evening.
Along with the performances, the fringes of the venue had two art exhibits on display, rounding out the elements of hip-hop. The pieces by Lavan Wright creatively depicted new and old rap icons like 2Pac, Phife Dawg, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, while paintings by Mr. DT used hearts as the basis for many of their designs. Wing Stop and Monster Energy provided refreshments, and Ewing Athletics and anti-tobacco apparel company Fresh Empire were sponsors as well.
“When you look back at the 1970s and early '80s, every single element was put together. The DJs, the dancers, the clothing designers, the MCs, they were all together under one roof,” said Jules Pierrot, curator of the Juice Exhibit. “But all of a sudden, in the 2000s, they split up. So the purpose of the Juice Hip-Hop Exhibition is to bring the elements together. It’s a family reunion.”
Pierrot said he wanted to pick artists and dancers from different parts of the country, instead of focusing entirely on Brooklyn talent.
“Let’s show that everybody can have their own styles, while still being connected to the same culture,” he said.
Friday’s Juice Hip-Hop Exhibition was the third of four days of events. The first day was Hip-Hop Institute, where guests like Deray McKesson spoke about social justice, and journalists such as Kim Osorio spoke about the state of hip-hop journalism. Day Two was the Dummy Clap Film Festival, which had independent and experienced filmmakers.
Saturday’s (June 16) finale concert at Brooklyn Bridge Park was headlined by Fabolous, Nas, Talib Kweli and Rapsody.
(Photos: Robert Adam Mayer http://robertadammayer.com/)