Get Cultured — July 6, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Celebrate Your Local Parks & Rec with the Summer Stage Concert Series

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summer stage

In every corner of the five boroughs lie endless opportunities for culture and entertainment, most of which are unbeknownst to the average citizen. Summer Stage is a free concert series sponsored by the New York City Parks Department that aims to bring free music to outdoor spaces across the city.

I recently ventured out to Red Hook, Brooklyn, to see Just Blaze, an iconic Hip Hop producer and DJ with a long career and platinum hits under his belt.  Just Blaze’s roster of collaborators include Jay-Z, Kanye West, T.I., Usher, Cam’Ron, Freeway, Beanie Sigel, and Talib Kweli, just to name a few, so seeing him in this intimate a setting (for free!) was an exceptional experience for a hip hop fan like myself.

Surrounded by Brooklyn natives, in the middle of Coffey Park adjacent to the Red Hook waterfront, New Yorkers from all walks of life came together to celebrate one of Hip Hop’s greatest legends.

In the hours leading up to the show, Just Blaze built the hype by sending out a few cryptic tweets about passing other rappers on the road en route to the show, linking which highway he was on to each rapper’s birthplace. As the tweets kept coming, so did the crowd. The group of maybe 25 people at 7p.m. quickly grew to over a hundred.

Arab Musik (another producer and DJ) played a fierce opening set, expertly navigating a drum machine (MPC) to give his tracks layers of sound and amp up the crowd for the performances to come.

asap twelvy

Talib Kweli helped kick off the evening by joining Just on stage with his hit Get By, followed by ASAP Twelvy, Mayhem Lauren, West Side Gun, and WhoisConway. Pharoahe Munch kept the ball rolling with Simon Says and other tracks. In between sets, or when the microphones dropped out (it is still the NYC Parks Department), Just Blaze played some of his greatest collaborative hits (like Jay-Z’s Public Service Announcement and Cam’Ron’s Oh Boy) to keep the audience excited and engaged.

Beanie Sigel of Roc-A-Fella records closed the show with Roc the Mic, an undisputed Hip Hop anthem, and What We Do, two of his best known tracks.

Much to the dismay of both Beanie and the crowd, the police showed up at 9:00 on the dot to shut the concert down, since Coffey Park officially closes at 9.  Just Blaze tried to reason with the cops for a little more time, especially since Beanie had only just taken the stage and the audience was fired up, to no avail.  In response to the roaring crowd, Just Blaze thanked us all for coming out, but since “this cop is an asshole, we all have to go home.”

Brooklyn, we go hard.

Twisted Talk: Have you been to any of the Summer Stage shows this season? How’d you like them? Discuss below!

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