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De La Soul
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/DeShaun Craddock De La Soul performing at Irving Plaza, celebrating their 25th anniversary

Where to see live hip-hop music in NYC

Looking for New York City's best live hip-hop shows? Here are the clubs you need to check out stat

By Andrew Frisicano

New York City is the birthplace of hip-hop, and the five boroughs have delivered some of the world's greatest hip-hop artists. Notorious B.I.G.? Jay Z? Nas? All ours. We know that the city hosts amazing hip-hop fests—annual occurrences like Hot 97 Summer Jam, Afropunk Fest and SummerStage are essential—but how about the rest of the year? Here's our pick of the city's best venues for getting your fix of live hip-hop music, raw and uncut.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best live music venues in NYC

NYC's best live hip-hop venues

Baby's All Right

Music Williamsburg

There are fewer and fewer reasons to head to Williamsburg for music these days, but Baby's is definitely one of them. The spot's eclectic genre-agnostic booking brings energetic hip-hop acts alongside its indie-pop and -rock bread and butter.

Photograph: Courtesy Biz3

B.B. King Blues Club & Grill

Music Midtown West

Sure, it's named after a legendary bluesman, but the Times Square spot regularly books a smattering of quality hip-hop talent—from '90s-era kingpins like Mobb Deep to new-school rhymers like Action Bronson. When uptown rap crew the Diplomats gets together, it's here.


Brooklyn Bowl

Things to do Concerts Williamsburg

The Williamsburg bowling alley/music venue is known for its stellar funk, rock and Afrobeat offerings as well as rap acts looking for a big stage—often with a live band in tow. Roots drummer and preeminent hip-hopologist Questlove spins at Bowl Train on Thursday nights: Expect a range of danceable pop and soul mixed with rap classics.

De La Soul
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/DeShaun Craddock

Irving Plaza

Music Music venues Gramercy

Irving Plaza is primarily knowns as a rock venue—having hosted punk and new wave acts since the '70s—but its stage has played an important role in the history of hip-hop as well. De La Soul played its first gig there in 1988, and the spot still hosts semi-regular throwdowns with rap talent old and new.


Santos Party House

Music Music venues Chinatown

True to its name, the downtown hot spot knows how to throw a rager: dance music prevails but local hip-hop frequently turns up to take over the club's superior sound system.

SOB's - Sounds of Brazil

Restaurants Fondue West Village

Since 1982, the cozy Soho venue has been the place for up-and-coming rappers to announce  their arrival to an NYC audience. It's a welcoming place to see hip-hop's rising stars and that'd be more than enough, but not-uncommon surprise appearances by vets like Drake and Busta Rhymes sweeten the deal.


Webster Hall

Music Music venues East Village

Each of the East Village haunt's three stages regularly hosts notable rap talent. The dark basement-level Studio is an ideal venue for hard-hitting trap music while the Grand Ballroom serves up boisterous headliners. Or visit for the resident Thursday night blowout House Party hosted by producer Just Blaze ("Girls, Girls, Girls"), which takes over all three rooms.


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