Hip-hop back in time: Music fest’s Albee Square event a throwback for genre-lovers • Brooklyn Paper

Hip-hop back in time: Music fest’s Albee Square event a throwback for genre-lovers

Juicy: DJ Uncle Ralph McDaniels spins during the Hip Hop Festival get-together in Albee Square on July 20.
Photo by Jason Speakman

It was all a dream.

The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival hit Downtown on July 20 for a block party at Albee Square, a fitting location because the popular hangout spot was where some of the genre’s biggest names spat rhymes as their friends watched, according to a local attendee.

“Bringing it to Albee Square Mall was very symbolic because we used to hang out there with Jay-Z and Biggie. Everybody would come through,” said Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Tamika Chapman. “You would meet up with all of them and they’d be freestyling and all of that.”

The site — now flanked by chain stores and luxury developments — was so beloved that the festival’s party there drew friends of Champan who she had not seen since the ’90s, when she would frequent parties thrown by DJ Uncle Ralph McDaniels, who spun at the event.

The disc jockey and host of music video show “Video Music Box” is a pillar of Brooklyn’s hip-hop scene, and people couldn’t help but get down to his beats, according to Champman, who was particularly impressed by a senior who boogied despite obvious discomfort.

“An older man who had arthritis was pushing through the pain to dance, and it was so beautiful,” she said.

The annual festival hosted its big concert in Dumbo on July 15, which was headlined by rappers Rakim and DMX. But the Albee Square block party — which also featured a live painting by famed graffiti artist James Top, hip-swinging salsa performers, and breakdancers — was a chance for music-lovers to enjoy a laid-back celebration of the genre that recalled the plaza’s heyday, said Chapman.

“It was like we were reliving our youth again,” she said.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Family time: Tamika Chapman, right, and daughter Tayler had a blast listening to music and running into old friends at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival event on July 20.
Photo by Jason Speakman

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