Hip-Hop

7 Homages for 7 Emcees - Homage 2: The Great Adventures of Slick Rick

“Hip-hop is a powerful art form that played in the backdrop of my peoples’ lives. As we faced success or tragedy and created better relationships with our human spirits, hip-hop culture motivated us, provided lifelong affirmations and inspired ideas. It became very important for me to chronicle that energy in the American Theater.”

-Shaun Neblett, MC & Playwright, & Educator

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Supported by the CRITICAL BREAKS residency of the Hi-ARTS Performance Space, Shaun Neblett’s 7 Homages for 7 Emcees play cycle is a collection of seven original plays that originate from the spirit of classic hip-hop albums. In commemoration of the 30th-anniversary celebration of The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, Neblett presents his theatrical work that pays tribute to the seminal recording. Shaun Neblett, a Brooklyn native known as MC SNEB during his rap days, is a playwright, educator, and founder of Changing Perceptions Theater.

His creative niche throughout the theater industry has been birthing original plays. The plays themselves are not about the Hip-Hop MCs that Shaun holds sacred, but instead they are inspired by the themes of the songs on those classic Hip-Hop albums personally selected for his Homage cycle. When the rapper Slick Rick was engaged in his notorious trial against deportation from the USA, he cited Homage 2: The Great Adventures of Slick Rick as an example of his inspiration on America’s next generation of influential artists. Billboard magazine hailed Homage 5: Life After Death as, “a street-smart production that pays homage to Biggie’s classic double-disc in both overt and subtle ways.” His other accolades was for “Homage 3: Illmatic," inspired by Nas debut album was presented Off-Broadway, and also received a reading at the Schomburg Center in 2014.

More importantly as a socially conscious creative, Neblett takes us on his intimate journey as a playwright with his chapbook “From Playwright to MC SNEB,” which can be purchased at www.Shaunneblett.com. Described as Hip-Hop theater, a genre written by artists who were born before and during the emergence of hip-hop as an art form, Nebelett’s plays examines the mortality of African American men depicted in the overshadowed life of urban America. He unapologetically addresses the themes of education, popular culture, art, family and crime through the lense of Hip-Hop within his works. We had the opportunity to see Homage 3: Illmatic, at The Schomburg a few years back and as quoted by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson it was, “A great play that evokes a sense of history and a sense of intimacy with people who nurture you, surround you and are a mystery to you”, it was truly a special experience of witnessing the Black male voice as he searched for the strength of his independence and manhood despite his circumstances.

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When I decided that I would write seven original plays that originate from the spirit of seven classic hip-hop albums, a lot of people wanted me to create a play for an album by Notorious B.I.G. or Tupac. I wanted to recognize artists who hadn’t already received the adulation of Hollywood.

-Excerpt from an Essay by Shaun Neblett “Harlem Lab on My Mind


In the true spirit of a multifaceted artist who has kept forward momentum merging his talents as a MC, educator and playwright his greatest accomplishment has been as the Executive Director and Owner of Changing Perceptions Theater. Creating and managing multiple youth theater programs throughout low-income neighborhoods in New York City and in Newark, New Jersey the organization has successfully created “Happy Birthday Malcolm and Lorraine!” an annual production that unites a company of established theater artists to create original plays inspired by Malcolm X and Lorraine Hansberry, who both share the same birthdate.

To See HOMAGE 2: SLICK RICK in NYC tomorrow Monday, November 5, 2018 at 730PM

Hi Arts

215 E 99th Street

New York NY 10029

Click Here to Purchase Tickets 

Hip-Hop's 1st Pulitzer Prize with KING Kendrick Lamar

"Any kind of business outside of art and culture and hip-hop, I have to have full creative control... And having that control, I always wanted to have something that represents more than just a price tag."

— Kendrick Lamar

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The lineage of hip-hop begins from the ancestors' tradition of vivid storytelling. What hip-hop did was birth a new modern day musical language of the struggle within Black American life, blending the old traditions of oral storytelling and innovated complex lyricism filled with verses, tracks, hooks, and eventually, classic historical albums with narratives so rich you couldn’t help but experience the sound just like a Hollywood movie, only better. 

It is no secret that hip-hop has also had a constant battle for institutional legitimacy because of its original global musical phenomena and unapologetic expression of Black American life.  Over the decades, hip-hop has without a doubt matured and manifested into subgenres rooted in a competitive art form that has cemented global music history with decades of unforgettable modern-day storytellers.  The unveiling of the many facets of Black American life and the complex dimensions of its beauty and pain has always been hip-hop's allure. The music has always been diverse and evolving with its variety of musical styles and influences.  Sometimes it is filled with braggadocious cadences of fun and play and other times it is a vivid, raw, mind-searing tale that you can’t unhear, but no matter what your musical palette preference, hip-hop’s creative range of influences an innovative musical architecture has single-handedly changed American musical history and the outlook on Black American life forever.

"Putting a positive light on where I come from is important to me. When you think of Compton, there is this idea that it’s numb with negativity"

KING Kendrick, hip-hop's modern-day storyteller has exquisitely documented the experience of the struggle throughout Black life in its past, present, and near future, in both sound and narration. His pure vulnerability within his music is transcendent in a feel good, DAMN kinda way. You go through all types of emotions with Kendrick along his musical ride. 

Most recently he made a new stamp on music history this year when he became the first non-classical and non-jazz artist to receive a Pulitzer Prize for his third studio album DAMN. Kendrick was the first to win the honor since 1997 when the Pulitzer Prize for music went to a jazz work by Wynton Marsalis’s oratorio “Blood on the Fields.” Decades earlier in 1965, the Pulitzer jurors recommended awarding a special citation to Duke Ellington but were rejected. 

A little over 20 years later hip-hop's own Kendrick Lamar's music is acknowledged as a preeminent masterwork by an age-old institution calling his single, DAMN a “triumphant piece of art,” by Pulitzer Prize administrator Dana Canedy.  Kendrick was awarded the Pulitzer Prize over classical musicians and co-finalists Michael Gilbertson and his string Quartet and Ted Hearne's cantata Sound from the Bench. To get a sense of the magantitude of this historic momement in hip-hop and American history, the jurors were: violinist Regina Carter; Paul Cremo, a director at The Metropolitan Opera; Farah Jasmine Griffin, a professor of English, comparative literature and African-American studies at Columbia University; David Hadju, music critic for The Nation; and David Lang, a composer. 

 Kendrick accepted his Pulitzer Prize for Music inside Columbia University in New York City saying, “It’s an honor,” during his acceptance speech, after receiving a standing ovation, “Been writing my whole life, so to get this type of recognition is beautiful.” Kendrick was also granted $15,000 as the top prize winner for his musical accolade.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Kendrick revealed this about his creative process for the album, “The initial goal was to make a hybrid of my first two commercial albums," he said. "That was our total focus, how to do that sonically, lyrically, through melody – and it came out exactly how I heard it in my head. … It's all pieces of me. My musicality has been driving me since I was four years old. It's just pieces of me, man, and how I execute it is the ultimate challenge. Going from To Pimp a Butterfly to DAMN., that shit could have crashed and burned if it wasn't executed right. So I had to be real careful on my subject matter and how I weave in and out of the topics, where it still organically feels like me." Late last year, Lamar released a "collector's edition" of DAMN. with the original album's tracklist reversed — played back-to-front revealing even more depth to his musical palette of creativity shifting the album's focus to the contrasting revelations of self, something we can all relate to in the current times. 

 

 

25 Years of Iconic Hip-Hop Fashion with 5001 FLAVORS

"It's business and pleasure, family and friends... it really doesn't feel like work at all."

- Shay Wood, Founder/Co- Owner of Harlem Haberdashery & 5001 FLAVORS

The First Family of Fashion...

The First Family of Fashion...

By now if you haven't heard of Harlem Haberdashery the Harlem family responsible for styling hip-hop and entertainment royalty for the last 25 years, you must be on a little media/internet fast, but we won't hold it against you. They are the veteran creatives behind outfitting everyone from Tupac to Lebron James and even Elmo.

Last week we headed over to the Museum of the City of New York in East Harlem to check out their annual Uptown Bounce: I Love the 90's free block party featuring 5001 FLAVORS of Harlem Haberdashery. Displaying their most iconic fashion garments over the last 25 years within the hip-hop industry we headed over for some fashion history and one hell of a good times capturing this latest "Inside the Cool" exclusive.

 

"When the love and influence of the culture overrides that traditional fashion degree..."

-Shea Zèphir, Founder/Creative Dir. of ART LIVING 
 
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Tupac Shakur

Custom designs by 5001 FLAVORS for Tupac in the movie "Above the Rim"

The 5001 FLAVORS spark began in the early 90's with one of their first clients, charming rapper Heavy D aka The Overweight Lover. As fate would have it Heavy D's cool old school charm and unapologetic fashion swagger turned heads of fellow industry talents who swarmed 5001 FLAVORS for their custom design. It was the traditional word of mouth referrals that increased the industry demand for 5001 FLAVORS as Heavy D sported their designs working as an executive at Uptown Records. The in-house label began dressing artists at Uptown and Bad Boy Records evolving beyond the hip-hop circuit customizing garments for A-list celebs including Kanye West, Will Smith, Al Sharpton, and a host of others within the entertainment industry.

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2016’s Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour

5001 FLAVORS custom Bad Boy team attire

5001 FLAVORS operates and had always thrived as legit family business, in fact all members of their family are involved in all facets of their businesses manifesting from custom-made apparel company to a retail boutique Harlem Haberdashery housing local designers and exclusive ready-to-wear pieces by 5001 FLAVORS. So how does a designer from Harlem without a fashion degree pull inspiration to design? Designer, Guy Wood creates some of the boldest, most colorful, layered garments from the inspirations of his family genetics, as his mother was a seamstress who made his clothes as a kid. Enamored by tailored clothing worn by icons like Harry Belafonte, Guy has a special love for large cuffs and extravagant button down shirts with bold color.  He wore his moms designs and garnered the reputation of being the cool kid with a mature sense of some serious fashion swag throughout Harlem. The other inspirations that influenced 5001 FLAVORS designs were the historical and fashionable periods of Harlem.  The bold architecture of design within their garments, alongside exotic fabrics, and surprise artistic elements embedded within their custom designs, are a tribute to Harlem's past with the unapologetic creativity of present day ideas. In the words of Jay Z, "the essence of our creativity is that we borrow from our ancestors. We are all vessels right? We're whistles and the wind go through us, we make the noise.   Harlem natives have always held high esteem to one's personal style of dress, it's a special pride that resonates deeply within the neighborhood like the food and music of New Orleans and Chicago, like the influences of Philadelphia and DC. Much like any other place in the world Harlem takes is style of dress personal, besides they don't call Harlem the "Mecca of Fashion" for nothing. 

 

Check out the gallery below for a little throwback hip-hop fashion history of 5001 FLAVORS unforgettable designs