Ever wonder how it would be to perform your favorite rap song in front of a cheering crowd as they rhyme along with you word for word? Look no further than Hip Hop Karaoke. Now in its fifth year hosting monthly events, HHK will be hosting the 2nd Hip Hop Karaoke Championship at New York’s famed Irving Plaza which will take place Friday, January 29, 2010. Twelve finalists will compete for a $1,000 grand prize and title of 2010 Hip Hop Karaoke Champion.
Rap legends Big Daddy Kane and Buckshot will be judging the competition along with Hot 97 on-air personality Peter Rosenberg. Last year’s show at the Highline Ballroom sold out and this year looks to be no different. There is a fan base that hungers for this unique kind of experience. The event is a good value and co-founder Josh Dick feels that in today’s tough economic climate, it’s important to give people an affordable experience. “Every thing we do is strictly for the fan. We’re very sensitive to the economy, just wanting to provide entertainment that doesn’t come at a high price.”
Hip Hop Karaoke is all about hip hop classics. The person who goes up on stage has to be able to rock the mic just like an established artist would. Contestants are judged on aspects such as delivery, choreography, stage presence and crowd control. Costumes, while not necessary, can only add to the performance. On any given night, one shouldn’t be surprised to see a performer honor Notorious B.I.G. by duplicating his famous Kangol and Coogi sweater look.
With a only a few days left before the event goes down, Josh is feeling anxious and extremely excited about what’s in store this Friday. Josh has witnessed Hip Hop Karaoke grow considerably since it’s start five years ago at a small bar in the Lower East Side.
“It was a little bar called Roscoe’s that could maybe hold 150-200 people. We started out on Monday night where the crowds were very thin and until the promoter gave us a shot on weekends we weren’t really able to prove our worth. It’s just amazing to think of that very first show on a Monday night with like 50-75 –mostly friends there – and you couldn’t even get people to sign up. They were like ‘What is Hip Hop Karaoke? I don’t want to be the one to do it.’ You go from that moment to a 1,000 capacity venue, a legendary room in Irving Plaza. It’s just an unbelievable thing.”
Josh explains that if you haven’t been before, you should expect to be pleasantly surprised. “It’s like walking into a regular hip hop show, but instead of seeing the artists, you’re seeing a fan just like yourself up on stage. I always try to tell people it’s called Hip Hop Karaoke, but it’s anything but karaoke. People immediately hear karaoke and think there’s a bouncing ball and drunk people on stage, the lyrics in front of them and they don’t realize this is a real hip hop event.”
Past events have included surprise appearances by legendary rappers taking to the stage and performing their own hits or covering the work of their peers.
“Big Daddy Kane came up while I was actually performing “Warm It Up Kane” and grabbed the microphone from me and the crowd went absolutely nuts.”
Other hip hop luminaries such as Masta Ace, Rhymefest, Jeru Da Damaja, and OC have also graced the Hip Hop Karaoke stage.
“It’s absolutely amazing for us, but it’s a thrill for people in the crowd. These are the artists that are on our (play) lists. So to see them in such an intimate venue either doing their own material or doing their own covers of somebody else. It’s just a great moment. And obviously you can’t plan for it, but when it does happen it’s truly amazing.”
While there is no shortage of fans that attend the events, Josh still finds that there are plenty of hip hop fans that have never been a part of the Hip Hop Karaoke experience because they don’t know it exists.
“Every time I meet somebody who says I’ve never heard of the event or never seen it and they tell me they are a hip hop fan, I feel like my job’s not done here. I still have people I need to convert and hopefully at one point the whole city will know what this event is.”
The best is yet to come in regards to the future of Hip Hop Karaoke.
“We are always trying to figure out what we can do to challenge ourselves and make the event better.”
For now, check the Hip Hop Karaoke website to see the finalists and watch the regional performances that landed them in the finals. After Friday’s show, keep checking for details regarding the resumption of the monthly series of shows that make Hip Hop Karaoke one of the most entertaining nights in NYC.
Hip Hop Karaoke Championship
Friday, January 29, 2010
Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Pl., NYC
Doors: 8pm – 16+
$13 Adv. – $15 at the Door
NYC TV at the 1st Hip Hop Karaoke Championship:
Big Daddy Kane surprise performance at HHK event
On the web: