Mark your calendars, update your blackberries; Thursday, June 7th is the first day of the five-day bash that is this year’s Brooklyn Hip-Hip Festival. The kickoff party, held at the powerHouse Arena in historic DUMBO, BK, will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Stax Records with hip-hop luminaries Large Professor and Ralph McDaniels working the turntables, and spinning the label’s classic tracks and video footage all night long.
Since its inception in 1957, Stax Records was a major player in the shaping and progression of the Southern and, especially, Memphis soul sound. Hall of famers such as Booker T. & the MGs, The Dramatics, The Staple Singers, and renowned artists like Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, and Shirley Brown made Stax a household name. The Stax catalog has in many ways served as the very root of Hip Hop. Because the Brooklyn Hop-Hop Festival was created to showcase the entire spectrum-from past to present to future-of hip-hop culture, The Room Service Group and Brooklyn Bodega see this premier event the perfect start to a great month.
The role of MC, DJ, and Producer are equally critical to the culture, and Large Professor fits the bill of all three. Large Pro came into hip-hop in 1988, at 17 years old, assisting the legendary Paul C with programming the beats for Eric B. & Rakim’s Let The Rhythm Hit Em’. While working with Eric B. and Rakim, The Large Professor discovered another young kid from Queensbridge and began to produce three tracks for his solo album. This young’n was Nas and the album was Illmatic. From there, Large joined the group Main Source as MC, producer, and DJ, and recorded one classic album, Breakin’ Atoms. Most known for his beats, Large Pro’s production credits read like the cover of your most prized mixtape: Beats for Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Nas, Busta Rhymes, Masta Ace, The X-Ecutioners, Akinyele, Tragedy Khadafi, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Mobb Deep, Diamond D, Cormega, The UN, Boot Camp Clik, and Jurassic 5. In 1996, The Large Pro (one of his many nicknames), left Main Source and was signed to Geffen by influential A&R Wendy Goldstein. Goldstein also signed The Roots, The Gza and Common during the same stretch. (Oddly enough, Goldstein’s assistant was Colin Stanback, now the label manager for Stax). He released his two famous singles, “Ijuswannachill” and “The Mad Scientist,” for The LP, which was unfortunately shelved by the label, and later released by Matador Records. Matador also released The Extra P’s (nickname #2) second solo album, 1st Class which featured Q-Tip and Busta Rhymes.
One of the Large Pro’s finest moments was “Live at The BBQ” off of Breakin’ Atoms. That classic track was the first time the world heard Nas and fellow Queens MC, Akineyle. The song sampled the soundtrack of Sweet Sweetback Badass, a Stax release. On June 7th the story comes full circle as The Large Professor helps celebrate Stax’ 50th Anniversary, a label responsible for his greatest hit, run by his former A&R. The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival is proud to be a part of the Stax legacy, and The Large Professor’s genius.
This first event of The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival will take place on June 7th at the at the powerHouse Arena in DUMBO, BK. The powerHouse Arena is located at the corner of Water and Main Streets. Admission is free. Complimentary beer will be provided by Brooklyn Brewery. For more informaiton about the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival, visit www.brooklynbodega.com.
The 3rd annual Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival is produced by Brooklyn Bodega, The Room Service Group, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Brooklyn Bridge Conservancy, and in conjunction with powerHouse Books. For more information about ticketing, performers, venues, and past Festivals, please visit www.brooklynbodega.com.