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SummerStage - Hip Hop - NYC Park Concert Series

Hip Hop In The Park – SummerStage Concert Series Preview

Fans of hip hop could rejoice after New York’s City Parks Foundation announced its hip hop heavy 2013 SummerStage lineup. The plethora of free entertainment scheduled promises a little bit of hip hop for everyone.

SummerStage, the largest free NYC performing arts festival of its kind, will honor hip hop’s  elements with a  special series entitled “This is _ Hip-Hop,” reflecting the diverse international hip hop culture that has evolved exponentially from its roots in the Bronx 40 years ago at the rec room of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue.

This new SummerStage season, which showcases all genres of music, continues its rich tradition of bringing quality free hip hop events to NYC city parks with performances in 17 parks across the city, showcasing hip hop in a wide array of events, film screenings, breakdance classes, beat battles and more.

The series begins June 4th and runs through August 29th.


The “This is_ Hip Hop” series, curated by Artistic Director Erika Elliott, honors the diversity of hip hop. The intent is to bring local and international artists to the stage, and to bring fans to important hip-hop venues, such as 5POINTZ and The POINT CDC, that engage, educate and entertain. From Puerto Rico’s Tego Calderon to France’s IAM to Jamaica’s Red Fox to Brooklyn’s Big Daddy Kane, shows will deliver a variety of shows and interpretations of hip hop music and culture.

Hip hop started in The Bronx, but today it is a global phenomenon touching people of all ages and backgrounds. “This is __ Hip-Hop” (“This is Latin Hip-Hop,” “This is Classic Hip-Hop,” “This is Family Hip-Hop” and “This is MY Hip-Hop”) will help demonstrate that in fine fashion.

Be sure to check THE CALENDAR, Birthplace Magazine’s calendar of NY-area hip hop related events for these, and other summer hip hop events in an around New York City.

In a city full of things to do, it is often a financial burden to take the whole family out. This series takes those worries away, and with the whole slew of shows scheduled every week, you can save some of your hard earned money. But don’t think for a moment that just because these shows are free that they would lack the intensity of a paid shows. (I attended a free SummerStage show in Red Hook in 2013, and saw Talib Kweli perform as good, if not better, than any indoor performance I had seen him at prior.)

This season’s highlights include Rock Steady Crew’s world premiere performance of “RSC Ghetto Made” showcasing the Crew’s extraordinary talent and incredible contributions to the B-Boy culture. The Rock Steady Crew, now led by the proverbial face of the organization, Crazy Legs, will also mark their 36th year of b-boying with an anniversary concert celebration featuring Pete Rock and CL Smooth. The RSC will even conduct a “Master Class” where Rock Steady Crew members will teach those in attendance a thing or two about breakdancing.


One interesting twist will be displayed with the premiere of King Kong, a hip-hop themed remake of the classic story brought to the stage by Alfred Preisser and Randy Weiner. Don’t expect to see a giant gorilla in this story.  This inventive hip-hop tale will consist of music, dance and comedy.

In an event that captures the overall vibe of the summer concert series, Central Park will celebrate the 40th anniversary celebration of hip hop culture in grand fashion with DJ Kool Herc and special guests on August 10. DJ Kool Herc is considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of hip hop. It was at the now historically landmarked building in the South Bronx, 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, where hip hop was born, spawning from the parties he would DJ at the recreation center.

For the family, a Harlem Family Day will take place on August 11, featuring a mixture of arts and music including a dance company, Illstyle & Peace & Productions, and a hip-hop musical, “Sweet Billy & The Zooloos,” geared towards children.

In addition, a special series of panel discussions and shows will be held at The Bronx hip-hop community space, THE POINT CDC and graffiti mecca, 5 POINTZ in Queens. More details on these events to come.

There will be special screenings of films including Wild Style, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka and From Mambo to Hip-Hop: A South Bronx Tale.

Among the many artists appearing at SummerStage events this season: Rakim, Chubb Rock, Rob Base, Dead Prez, Dana Dane, Grand Puba , Yasiin Bey (Mos Def),  Jungle Brothers, Pete Rock vs. DJ Premier, Black Sheep, Das EFX, Marley Marl, Rayvon, Shaggy and Flatbush Zombies.

Park locations include: Red Hook Park and Von King Park in Brooklyn; Central Park and Marcus Garvey Park in Manhattan; St. Mary’s Park and Crotona Park in The Bronx and Queensbridge Park in Queens.

Simply put, hip hop at SummerStage is free fun for all, and is sure to delight members of the entire family, from kids to the grandparents. Come to one, or come to all. Just come.

Be sure to check THE CALENDAR, Birthplace Magazine’s calendar of NY-area hip hop related events for these, and other summer hip hop events in an around New York City.


Here is the full 2013 SummerStage calendar of events

About Steven Ortiz

Senior Writer Steven Ortiz has been covering hip hop in the NY-area for Birthplace Magazine almost since it's official inception back in 2009. He resides up in the Bronx, where the people are fresh.