The Brooklyn Public Library is preparing to host “Night in the Library: The Philosophy of Hip-Hop,” an all-night philosophical series with keynote addresses, music, discussion and activities inspired by the culture of the genre, on June 17 at the Central Library.
“We are thrilled to once again welcome New Yorkers to join us for Brooklyn’s most exciting celebration of culture and exchange of ideas,” László Jakab Orsós, vice president of arts and culture for BPL. “On the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, we’re proud to honor the legacy of the genre and take a deep dive into this multifaceted art form that has transcended music and had a tremendous influence on our cultural fabric on a global scale.”
LeBrandon Smith, founder of Really Just Hip-Hop, Kelly Harrison, and April R. Silver, founder of Akila Worksongs, all teamed up to co-curate the event with special speakers, lecturers, and music.
“The combination of celebrating this artform with the institution that helped cultivate my love for reading in my birthplace of Brooklyn is special to me,” Smith said. “Night in the Library will allow for exploration of the genre from different perspectives as a versatile art form that can be provocative, vulnerable, and always thought-provoking.”
Smith, a Brooklyn native, said he is excited to see how this event gives the community an opportunity to challenge their thinking and push the art form forward.
“I think in the hip-hop community we’re having so many conversations online so I think to be able to take some of those conversations online and have them in person,” Smith told Brooklyn Paper. “We’re not just celebrating but I think in some of these different panels or lectures we’re even allowing people to critique what they see.”
Notable hip-hop names like Roc Nation artists, including Grammy-nominated rapper Rapsody, Johnny Cocoa, HDBeenDope, and Rueben Vincent, are slated to perform.
According to Meredith Walters, head of programming for BPL, the event is just one of many ways the library network is celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop and its culture.
“This year I’m excited because there’s so many philosophies embedded in hip-hop and so many generations coming together for this that it’s really a very generative and celebratory coming together of Brooklynites and New Yorkers of all ages,” Walters said.
Night at the Library, a BPL event that was first introduced in 2017, has brought in thousands of attendees eager to discuss the different topics. Walters and other BPL leaders felt there was no better topic to focus on this year than hip-hop with the genre celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
“This year it made sense for us to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the philosophy of hip-hop,” Walters said. “It’s a chance to bring together people who may have some disagreements about some topics.”
The event will also feature performances by the National Double Dutch League, lead by Lauren Walker, film screenings, dancers and choreographers, close readings of rap lyrics, and sound vests by Not Impossible Labs, which allow non-hearing people to feel music.
“The fact that we’re bringing together not just artists, but also scholars and just Brooklyn period is special,” Smith said.