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Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival celebrates the genre's roots and future

Written by
Dorkys Ramos

The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival is a lot more than head-bopping beats—though there are plenty of those to be had. From films to discussions with industry leaders, there’s so much to do during the fest—here’s what you need to know to make the most of it. 

Day 1: Hip-Hop Institute

Kick things off at Medgar Evers College (Wednesday 13 10am–4pm) with lectures and workshops on entrepreneurship and criminal justice in the community. Catch roundtable discussions on the state of hip-hop journalism, nab a spot at the sneakerhead panel on hip-hop’s lovefest with footwear, or attend fest director Julian Mitchell’s workshop on how to get paid to be yourself. Author Tia Williams and Hot 97’s Jen BKLYN speak on the role of women in hip-hop, and DeRay McKesson—a politician (he recently ran for mayor of Baltimore) and one of the loudest voices in the Black Lives Matter movement—serves as the day’s keynote speaker.

Day 2: The Dummy Clap Film Festival

Head back to Medgar Evers College (Thursday 14 noon–7pm) to learn how the genre grew up on camera. Timothy Welbeck shares research for an upcoming sequel to the 2006 award-winning film, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, and you can check out screenings of 86-32, a film based on 1988 Olympic boxer Roy Jones Jr.; the 1983 documentary Style Wars; and a 25th-anniversary showing of New Jack City. The crew of the web series Money and Violence also teaches a master class on the filming of the Brooklyn show.

Day 3: Juice Hip-Hop Exhibition

At the Dumbo artistic exhibition (Friday 15 7–11pm), Kat Daddy Slim, DJ Midnite and Kerim the DJ take turns on the tables while Your Old Droog, Taylor Bennett and Nick Grant showcase their MC skills. Channel your inner B-boy/girl when dance crews from NYC and Alabama take the floor, while artists and photographers display their vibrant works. Oh, and take advantage of free wings all night long. 

Day 4: Finale Concert

The festival tops off with a huge block party at Brooklyn Bridge Park (Saturday 16 1–8pm). Queens native Nas headlines alongside Brooklyn’s Fabolous and Talib Kweli and North Carolina’s B-girl Rapsody. Festival house DJ, Rob Swift, and hosts Uncle Ralph McDaniels and Torae are on hand to keep the hype up. Even though the party’s outside, you know they’ll bring down the house.

The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival takes place at various locations and times July 13–16 ( Free–$165.

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