As the annual Juice Hip-Hop Exhibition kicked off July 14, fans from all over had the opportunity to witness Hip-Hop in true form. Incorporating the core elements of B-boying, DJing, beatboxing, graffiti art, and MCing, attendees were able to get a glimpse of what the culture is truly about. This year’s exhibition featured performances from rappers based all over the country, even incorporating art and never before seen photographs. Like most exhibitions, there was something there that catered to anyone and everyone, and Juice was able to do exactly that.
As doors opened Friday evening, patrons were treated with the opportunity to see the “Brooklyn’s Finest” gallery. Curated by The Bishop Gallery, Brooklyn’s Finest was a fitting title dedicated to two of Brooklyn’s own, Biggie and Jay Z. Featuring art from local artists and never before seen photographs, the presentation accurately depicted the marriage of Hip-Hop and art. “The essence of Biggie comes through so many different types of styles, even from remembering certain videos of him wearing Versace shirts with gold chains,” said Ronald Draper, one of the artists whose work was featured at the gallery.” Even speaking on not only the inspirations for the Biggie artwork, but all of his work as a whole. “I’m a big multi-sensory guy, even through my text-based work, what will happen is you’ll hear my voice as you’re reading it,” Draper said. “In this case, it’s [the artwork] made from wood, so it’s pretty okay if you touch it. And I’m also trying to appeal to your sense of self in a way where my work isn’t just something you’re looking at, or something you’re hearing, but something you’re thinking about regarding the artwork itself. Even thinking about your relationship with whatever ideas that come into play.”
Erwin John, one of the curators of the gallery, took a page of inspiration from living close to Jay’s childhood home Marcy Projects as a child. “This year in particular there’s a lot going on for both Big and Jay, and obviously [Big’s] legacy is still going with this year being the 20th anniversary of his untimely death,” John said. “And then you have everything happening with Jay, the new album that just dropped and being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and to be the first Hip-Hop artist inducted, that’s huge, so we thought it’d be fitting to celebrate the two collectively.”
In addition to the gallery, there were also photographs taken and presented by Sickamore, Music A&R and Creative Director at Interscope Records, which featured many of today’s Hip-Hop artists. “Every single [photo] is a moment, and I consider myself more of a photojournalist,” Sickamore said. “Travis [Scott] literally brought me in for the Kid Cudi and the Bill Clinton photo, and asked if I could get some shots of them. These are some of my favorite photos I’ve taken, and I call the piece “Artists and Repertoire,” because I want the people to see repertoire working with artists.”
The exhibition then opened with a performance by Orlando, Florida based rapper, Trent The Hooligan. With Juice being his first performance in New York City, the rapper kept the energy alive as the crowd rapped along to his music. Soon after, West Atlanta’s very own EarthGang took to the stage. They even performed one of their songs within the crowd, having the audience form a circle around the duo, which kept the crowd’s energy going even more.
Of course, what would the exhibition be without some b-boying? Montreal-based Clean Fresh Air blended beatboxing, b-boying and, MCing into their act, as onlookers watched in amazement. The dance group proved no matter what part of the world you’re from, Hip-Hop can and will always have a lasting impact. There was also Harlem’s Chrybaby Cozie and the Litefeet Nation, who were also celebrating the anniversary of the dance style known as Litefeet. Bringing back hits that helped the dance’s popularity, including DJ Webstar’s “Chicken Noodle Soup” and “5,000”, the crowd went into a frenzy, doing the dances as the group danced on stage. The performance closed out with Maze & Frankie Beverly’s “Before I Let Go,” with both the crowd and the performers on stage doing the electric slide.
The DJ’s for the night had the crowd going, mixing classic records both old and new. DJ Midnite set if off with classic Hip-Hop records that have stood the test of time, even including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s theme song. Kerim The DJ opened up his set with a tribute to a fallen friend with Ice Cube’s “Today Was A Good Day.” Followed with a series of mashed up beats, even incorporating a drum synthesizer throughout his set.
All eyes then turned to Dreamville’s Bas, Cozz, and Omen, the main event for the evening. Omen started it off, performing music from Elephant Eyes and Revenge of The Dreamers 2, and even performed some of his music acapella. Next on the Dreamville roster was South Central’s very own Cozz, debuting some new music from his new album, and kept the energy alive in terms both stage presence and the crowd. Last but definitely not least, Bas came onto the scene, performing hits from his sophomore album, Too High To Riot. During the many songs of his set, he also performed “Dopamine” with fellow labelmate Cozz, and closed out the exhibition with good vibes.
This year’s Juice Hip-Hop Exhibition was presented by the 13th Annual Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival and Moxie 1973. For more videos and highlights, head over to the festival’s website, bkhiphopfestival.com.