Founded in 1998, the Red Bull Music Academy is a world-travelling series of music workshops and festivals: a platform for those who shape our musical future. And the Five out of Five music series, which was part of the famous energy drink's way of bringing back the "real hip hop" that originated in the Five Boros of New York City.
The Red Bull Music Academy pays tribute to hip hop, arguably the most influential youth culture of our time – right where it all began. Over the course of five days, five classic albums from five boroughs are revisited via workshops and public talks in each respective borough. At night, the artists re-create their seminal work for a special concert, bridging the gap from old to new school. The five albums are: ‘The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick’ (1988), Black Moon’s ‘Enta Da Stage’ (1993), ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’ (1993), ‘The Infamous’ by Mobb Deep (1995), and Dipset’s ‘Diplomatic Immunity’ (2003). Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Manhattan – stand up!
The standout performances, of course, belonged to Lloyd Banks, Mobb Deep, & Dipset.
The Diplomats, better known as Dipset, features the likes of Cam’ron, Jim Jones, and Juelz Santana (who was representing for SlowbucksTV hard-core, as evidenced by his snail-pooping-money logo emblazoned across his shirt). While the latter two are, these days, better known for their significant others’ appearances on VH1's hyper-reality show Love & Hip-Hop, Jones & Santana are actually at the forefront of modern New York rap, & the sold-out crowd at the Best Buy Theater in NYC was testament to their interminable staying power.
Mobb Deep, who consist of Albert "Prodigy" Johnson & Kejuan "Havoc" Muchita, discussed the origin of the "Dunn" (also known as "Thun") language, their struggle to get out of the Queensbridge projects (which also birthed the likes of Nas & Marley Marl), and reflected on the origins of their classic "The Infamous" album, which was performed later that evening in a sold-out show in The Studio at Webster Hall (with "Survival of the Fittest" being the stand-out performance).
Last, but most certainly not least, was Lloyd Banks' high-energy performance, where the rapper the NY Times called "the most important rapper in New York" doused the audience with water as he careened through classics old ("On Fire," "I'm So Fly") and new ("Love Me In the Hood," direct from the much-anticipated Cold Corner 2 mixtape, which Banks assured the audience was coming "in the next few days."). Ever the consummate gentleman, Banks was humbled before the audience who screamed with each verse & sang along to each rhyme. "I'm independent, y'all know I'm independent," said the 29-year-old Southside Jamaica native, "and, from the bottom of my heart, I just want to thank you all for your support. It means so much." His "Blue Hefner" persona may have gotten him noticed in the beginning, but it's the person -- the man known to his nearest & dearest as Chris Lloyd -- that earned the "Punchline King" the loyalty of this reviewer...and the loyalty of all 600+ fans in attendance.
To get exclusive photos from these shows for review & press, visit Bernadette Giacomazzo