07 New York 25 September – 30 September


Celebrating the boroughs’ most iconic hip hop albums

The Red Bull Music Academy pays tribute to hip hop, arguably the most influential youth culture of our time – right where it all began. Over the course of five days, five classic albums from five boroughs are revisited via workshops and public talks in each respective borough. At night, the artists re-create their seminal work for a special concert, bridging the gap from old to new school. The five albums are: ‘The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick’ (1988), Black Moon’s ‘Enta Da Stage’ (1993), ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’ (1993), ‘The Infamous’ by Mobb Deep (1995), and Dipset’s ‘Diplomatic Immunity’ (2003). Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Manhattan – stand up!

  • In Conversation with Mobb Deep

    The Making of ‘The Infamous’

    Doors Open Doors open 4.30pm, Session starts 5pm
    Webster Hall: 125 E 11th St. New York, NY 10003-5301
    Free entry

  • Mobb Deep, Lloyd Banks

    Doors open 8pm, Show starts 9pm
    Webster Hall: 125 E 11th St. New York, NY 10003
    Tickets: $20
    www.ticketweb.com

  • In Conversation with Slick Rick & D-Nice

    The Making of ‘The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick’

    Doors open 4.30pm, Session starts 5pm
    Paradise Theater Bronx: 2403 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10468
    Free entry

  • Slick Rick

    Doors open 8pm, Show starts 9pm
    Paradise Theater Bronx: 2403 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10468
    Tickets: $15
    www.ticketmaster.com

  • In Conversation with Wu-Tang Clan

    The Making of ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’

    Doors open 4.30pm, Session starts 5pm
    Eve Ultra Lounge Staten Island: 2354 Arthur Kill Rd., Staten Island, NY 10309
    Free entry

  • Wu-Tang Clan

    Doors open 8pm, Show starts 9pm
    Eve Ultra Lounge Staten Island: 2354 Arthur Kill Rd., Staten Island, NY 10309
    Tickets: $20
    www.wantickets.com

  • In Conversation with Black Moon & Dru Ha

    The Making of ‘Enta Da Stage’

    Doors open 4.30pm, Session starts 5pm
    Southpaw Brooklyn: 125 5th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217
    Free entry

  • Black Moon w/ full live band, Big Daddy Kane

    Doors open 8pm, Show starts 9pm
    Southpaw Brooklyn: 125 5th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217
    Tickets: $15
    www.ticketweb.com

  • In Conversation with The Diplomats

    The Making of ‘Diplomatic Immunity’

    Doors open 2.30pm, Session starts 3pm
    Harlem School of Arts: 645 St. Nicholas Ave., New York, NY 10030
    Free entry

  • The Diplomats, Vado

    Doors open 8pm, Show starts 9pm
    Best Buy Theatre: 1515 Broadway at W 44th St. New York, NY 10036
    Tickets: $20
    www.ticketmaster.com

Wu-Tang Clan

Wu-Tang Clan

Combining Far Eastern mythology with dusty breaks and hardcore lyrics, this 9-piece (and sometimes more) collective from Staten Island bum-rushed the show in 1993 and left it irrevocably changed. Their debut LP, ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’ might just be the most influential rap debut of all time, kick-starting the solo careers of global superstars Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and RZA.
 It’s the Wu, mother*%$#3r!

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Mobb Deep

Mobb Deep

Few have shaped modern-day rap aesthetics like these two childhood friends from Queensbridge. With their unique blend of sinister, cinematographic street tales and intense, minimalistic production, Havoc and Prodigy became almost synonymous with East Coast street rap in the mid ‘90s – and, maybe even more impressively, haven’t released anything mediocre to this day. Still shinin’!

On Myspace >
The Diplomats

The Diplomats

The crew that brought swag back to NYC. The Harlem gang headed by key members Jim Jones, Cam’ron and Juelz Santana first caused a major stir in the early 2000s with their laid-back braggadocio, inventive slang use, and over-the-top dress codes. Countless copycats have followed them since. But when it comes to styling, the recently reunited trio still reigns supreme.

On Facebook >
Lloyd Banks

Lloyd Banks

Lloyd Banks is to 50 Cent what Kanye West is to Jay-Z: an artist that truly managed to follow in his mentor’s footsteps thanks to talent and talent alone. After riding shotgun as part of G-Unit for years, these days you can catch Banks working with a broader variety of artists from Ryan Leslie to Pusha T, while still collecting props for his fierce and smart lyricism.

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Black Moon

Black Moon


“Put up, what up, bo bo bo” – what started as possibly THE definitive introductory rap verse turned out to become the starting point of one of the most consistent careers in hip hop history. 18 years after their classic full-length debut, ‘Enta Da Stage’, Evil Dee, 5ft and Buckshot Shorty are back together, bringing that extra-raw BK sound to the stage with a full live band. Pure, rugged excitement!

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Dru Ha

Dru Ha


Drew ‘Dru-Ha’ Friedman has been taking care of your favourite rapper’s career for a good 15 years now. Besides releasing timeless material by the likes of KRS-One, Cypress Hill, Random Axe, and Pharoahe Monch on his Duck Down label, this Syracuse graduate managed to keep the BK collective Boot Camp Clik’s brand alive and kicking since their first releases in the early ‘90s.

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Big Daddy Kane

Big Daddy Kane


From co-writing lyrics for Biz Markie to stopping the show on hip hop’s most memorable posse cut of all time, ‘The Symphony’, Big Daddy Kane is THE essential Brooklyn MC. A suave ladies’ man and fierce lyricist alike, he influenced everybody from Biggie to Jay-Z, and paved the way for the r&b/rap crossover that’s now standard on dancefloors and radio stations around the globe.

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Slick Rick

Slick Rick

Nas borrowed his style on ‘I Can’. Jay-Z called for a hook. Outkast and Mos Def structured some of their strongest work around his feature parts. London-born, Bronx-bred Slick Rick is one of rap’s true icons. And that’s not just because of his exotic accent and affinity for super-heavy gold chains. With his razor-sharp, witty street narratives, Slick Rick upped the ante for hip hop storytelling once and forever.

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D-Nice

D-Nice

As the de facto DJ and beat-boxer for Boogie Down Productions after Scott La Rock’s untimely death, D-Nice quickly morphed into an all around hip hop Renaissance man handling MC, production and DJ duties with his solo releases. His hits ‘Call Me D-Nice’ and ‘Crumbs On The Table’ quickly became hip hop classics, and he continues this legacy today through his numerous and eclectic DJ sets.

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Black Gold

Ego trip co-founder, DJ supremo, and long-time Academy team member Jefferson Mao gives the low-down on the boroughs' most iconic albums.

Slick Rick The Great Adventures of Slick Rick

Slick Rick
The Great Adventures of Slick Rick

Def Jam, 1988

You can divide storytelling in hip-hop into two eras – Before Slick Rick and After Slick Rick. A UK ex-pat who moved to the Bronx as a pre-teen, Ricky Walters’ narrative-weaving artistry was a study in juxtapositions: decidedly sophisticated-sounding (thanks to the distinctive traces of English accent gracing his delivery) yet never above bawdy, X-rated humor; pampered and natty enough to inject details like his list the bath products from his after-shower routine yet battle tested enough to challenge and chide fellow rap competitors with swift, vulgar dismissals. Three years after one momentous single with former partner Doug E. Fresh in the Get Fresh Crew (“The Show” b/w “La-Di-Da-Di”) Rick’s inaugural solo foray, The Great Adventures of, provided the definitive showcase for these unique gifts. Seen through Rick’s spectacles, the world is amusingly absurd, as the profane (“Treat Her Like a Prostitute”) resides alongside the empathetic and sage (“Teenage Love”; “Hey Young World”), the combative (“Lick the Balls”) balanced by the tragicomic (“The Moment I Feared” – to date the only, or at least best, known story rhyme to end with its protagonist the victim of prison rape). Technically an unmatched pilot of plot, wicked with his humor, Rick could even perform double or triple duty role-play-wise (“Mona Lisa”) – pioneering a style the likes of Positive K, Snoop, and Biggie Smalls would later take to the bank. Truth, however, would emulate fiction in the eeriest of ways less than two years later when Rick’s career would be derailed by violence – the car chase vignette from the hit single, “A Children’s Story,” come to life in the aftermath of an extortion scheme at the hands of a cousin. He’d serve his debt to society (eventually being fully pardoned) and successfully return to tell more stories on record. But his Great blueprint remains this Ruler’s crowning achievement.

Black Moon Enta Da Stage

Black Moon
Enta da Stage

Nervous Wreck, 1993

There was a significant amount of Enter-ing (or Enta-ing) going on in NY hip-hop in the fall of 1993. Historically, Wu-Tang Clan’s classic debut, Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, is often cited as the turning point in a creative and commercial turnaround for Gotham’s rap fortunes, answering West Coast gangsta boogie with an onslaught of project tower ruggedness (and thus opening the door for the likes of Illmatic, Ready to Die, and The Infamous). But let the record show that Black Moon’s Enta da Stage was as much the catalyst, arriving on record racks a good month before 36 Chambers. The debut effort from the Bushwick, Brooklyn trio of Buckshot Shorty, 5 Ft. Assassin and DJ Evil Dee, Enta announced itself as part of the borough’s notorious stick up kid tradition in overt ways – scowling grills on the album cover, belligerent lyrics, fractured phonetic song title spellings, and the punctuations of mammoth shouted choruses (the musical equivalent of getting rolled on in a desolate stretch of Franklin Ave. asphalt). What made the album a natural extension of the jazzier, post-Native Tongues grooves of NY rap acts that immediately preceded it (at least more so than RZA and company’s deadly venoms) was the work of resident producers Da Beatminerz (Evil Dee and big brother Mr. Walt). In Crooklyn classics like “Who Got the Props,” “Buck Em Down” and “I Got Cha Opin,” heavily filtered bass-lines dominate the bottom of the mix while piercing snares and passing glimpses of high-end melody patrol up top. It’s a brutal but beautiful sonic package – one that remarkably set da stage for a Bootcamp Click empire that still thrives today via Duck Down Records. They get the props.

Wu-Tang Clan Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers

Wu-Tang Clan
Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers

Loud, 1993

“The Wu got somethin’ that I know that everybody wanna hear. ’Cause I know I been waiting to hear it,” Raekwon remarked on the “Intermission” that bisected Wu-Tang’s 1993 debut – showing the Chef wasn’t only adept at serving up hot bars, but predicting shifts in regional rap momentum. Arriving in the midst of what a young Shawn Carter once characterized as “too much West Coast dick-licking,” 36 Chambers was the Eastside story many had hoped for: proof that New York rap artists could still commercially compete with their chronic-puffing counterparts from the land of locs, sunshine, and sets. But it was the way the Wu (along with Black Moon’s Enta da Stage) initiated a new NY era that was truly transcendent: a nine-man crew of hungrier-than-thou rhyme renegades and cast-offs hailing from the city’s forgotten borough, Staten Island, brandishing the most unpolished sound imaginable. Group architect RZA’s jarringly grimy production found inspiration (and liberal sampled dialog snippets) in the old school Times Square kung fu flicks they’d become obsessed with as kids. The Clan’s “sword style” approach to emceeing brought the notion of carving up one’s lyrical opponent to new levels of conceptual fortitude. Hits ensued (“Method Man,” “C.R.E.A.M.,” “Can It Be So Simple”), stars and solo deals were born (Method Man, ODB, Rae and Ghost, GZA), and the foundation was laid for a hip-hop subgenre/industry unto itself. A new world. A Wu world.

Diplomatic Immunity

Diplomats
Diplomatic Immunity

Roc-A-Fella, 2003

Wu disciples may bristle, but an entire generation of Rotten Apple seeds will testify to the hilt that Dipset was New York hip-hop’s Last Great Crew. The Diplomats themselves, though, might take semantic issue with that title. “My Dipset Taliban – we are not a crew/ We’re more like a movement,” Jim Jones declared on “The First” from the Harlem quartet’s official debut, 2003’s Diplomatic Immunity. “This is a movement, this is a union,” Juelz Santana echoed on the even-more-to-the-point titled “More Than Music.” Audacity notwithstanding there was credence to these claims. Like any historically noteworthy rap clique (e.g. Wu-Tang, Native Tongues etc.) Dipset featured charismatic front-line personalities (team leader Cam’Ron, Santana and Jones all), a distinctive aesthetic (thundering, cymbal crashing anthems largely sired by producers The Heatmakers), and most of all, mystique – a quality that pervades the sprawling Immunity. Chaotic and grandiose, Dipset’s material didn’t dazzle so much as bludgeon you with its crude wit – whether it was Santana realiably rhyming the same word in successive lines (“I’m Ready”: “Yo they tried to box me in the corner for the longest/ No key, locked me in this corner for the longest”), or Cam’s nonsensical genius (“I Really Mean It”: “Hey yo lock my garage, rock my massage/ Fuck it, bucket by Osh Kosh Bgosh/ Golly I'm gully, look at his galoshes/ Gucci, gold, platinum plaque collages”). But perhaps most persuasive to the group’s grassroots appeal was its success in reclaiming Harlem World as rap terrain of the rugged (erasing any lingering images of Mase shiny-suiting it up alongside Diddy in a process begun by Cam’s smash Come Home With Me). Residents north of 110th Street rocked Cam’s trademark pink gear in allegiance, and celebrated team Dipset with neighborhood pride. Hipsters downtown and city-wide – stuck off the group’s infectious bombast – championed Dipset too, brandishing Dipset/Ramones logo tees, addressing one another with ironic “What’s really good?” salutations. Sometimes a movement takes on followers you never expected.

Diplomatic Immunity

Mobb Deep
The Infamous

Loud, 1995

Easily lost in the near universal praise Mobb Deep’s The Infamous enjoys amongst a certain generation of rap fans – those nursed on the bosom of the boom-bap – is the fact that the seminal mid-90s effort actually represented a lifeline for the group. Once wild kids who cut school to cut rap demos (landing themselves a recording contract in the process), MD’s Havoc and Prodigy had already seen one opportunity in the rap game slip away when their 1993 debut album for 4th & Broadway, Juvenile Hell, went double wood in the ’hood. By spring of ’95, however, they’d reinvented themselves mightily. No longer Kriss Kross with curses, the Mobb were now cold blooded, official Queensbridge murderers doing business alongside street-co-signed acts like Wu-Tang Clan at Loud Records. Prodigy’s poison pen spilled steely, fatalistic verses – describing a senselessly violent mindset so memorably (“Your crew is featherweight/ My gunshots will make you levitate”) that one couldn’t help but appreciate the artfulness involved – antisocial behavior be damned. Lyrically, Havoc matched his partner’s emotionally numb sentiments, and channeled the pair’s dead end venom into impeccably stark beats (fellow Q-boro rep Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest providing sonic assistance). “Shook Ones Pt. 2” became the immediate anthem – a song still so powerfully evocative of its era it should be toasted whenever played in public with a sip of Hennessy from a plastic cup. “Fuck where you at, kid, it’s where you from,” Havoc memorably declared elsewhere on “Right Back At You” – twisting one of hip-hop’s oft-quoted Golden Age maxims (Rakim’s “It ain’t where you from it’s where you’re at”) into a territorial word of warning for all those who dared profile or pose. Steeped in paranoia, The Infamous categorically gave all outsiders the iced grill. And yet it was for that very reason we embraced it even more.

Essential Tracks

Mobb Deep
Shook Ones Pt II
Listen
Black Moon
I Got Cha Opin (Remix)
Listen
Wu-Tang Clan
C.R.E.A.M
Listen
Diplomats
Dipset Anthem
Listen
Black Moon
Who Got Da Props
Listen
Slick Rick
Children’s Story
Listen

Red Bull Music Academy Lectures

Black Moon

On the couch with the crew that brought Brooklyn back in the early 90s

The Diplomats

Capo, Cam, Santana and Zekey tell the Dipset story in Harlem

Wu-Tang Clan

The Wu got somethin’ that we know that everybody wanna hear...

Mobb Deep

Prodigy and Havoc reveal the stories behind their über-classic 'The Infamous'

Slick Rick

The Ruler talks shop with Ego Trip's Chairman Mao

On Red Bull Music Academy Radio

Wu-Tang Clan
Wu-Tang Clan
RBMA World Tour 2011 - New York
Live at Eve Ultra Lounge - Pt 1
Play >
Black Moon
Black Moon
RBMA World Tour 2011 - New York
Live at Southpaw Brooklyn - Pt 1
Play >
Mobb Deep
Mobb Deep
RBMA World Tour 2011 - New York
Live at Webster Hall
Play >
Big Daddy Kane
Big Daddy Kane
RBMA World Tour 2011 - New York
Live at Southpaw Brooklyn
Play >