The Hip Hop Subway Series is a semi-regular gathering of New York area hip hop artists, beatboxers, singers and other creative folks who gather at the rear of a subway platform, and ride end to end, peacefully, but raucously, taking over an entire train car, dropping verbal percussion and spitting rhymes the entire length of the ride.
It’s pretty crazy.
Birthplace Magazine rode along with HHSS for the first time Sunday, February 21, 2010, and we have a lot to report. While we are working on a full feature and recap, I wanted to get this off my chest.
I covered the HHSS because it is exactly the type of event that illustrates the inspiration for why I started BirthplaceMag.com. Because I truly believe there is a rich cultural creativity that continues to bubble throughout the New York underground that needs documenting. That hip hop, its music and artistry, is not dead, and not permanently transplanted from its birthplace as many believe, but alive and well and progressive and prosperous.
So I am trying to spread that gospel. There are some wonderful people helping, but doing so in the spirit of true journalism as I envision it, remains a struggle, as this is a largely pro-bono effort for the time being, and we all have other obligations and responsibilities. But we strive. I strive. Yet, as is often the case when attempting a next-to-impossible task, the desire to give up often rears it’s imposing head, and I cower in its presence.
But then something like this happens. Something so very New York. Something so very hip hop. A freestyle moment wrapped inside of a freestyle session of a freestyle event. We watched as the multifaceted epitome of an underground artist literally emerged from the shadows of the sidelines of the open mic that had formed at the end of the rambunctiously entertaining subway ride from Manhattan.
“Can I kick something?” he asked gruffly, but politely, shuffling into the cipher. “I’m 50 years old!” he proclaimed. And at that, the performers, many less than half that age and all assuredly living under better circumstances, graciously stepped aside, opening the imaginary stage to their brother-in-rhyme.
Still, we weren’t entirely convinced this wasn’t going to be a new “Pants on the Ground”.