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The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival is back for the second straight year, and this time it promises to be even bigger and better.

Last June’s festival took place in Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Brewery yard, an intimate setting that still drew over 1,500 people. The site for this year’s show shifts to historic and spacious Tobacco Warehouse in DUMBO’s Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park on Saturday, June 24.

Performing at the show will be Lupe Fiasco, The Procussions, Rhymefest, Panacea, Sleepy Brown and two of Brooklyn’s own: Maya Azucena and rap legend and festival headliner Big Daddy Kane.

"As a Brooklynite, I enjoy opportunities to be associated with my home, and I intend to bring some real fire to the show," said Azucena, who was born and raised in Flatbush. "DUMBO is one of the illest neighborhoods in Brooklyn: it’s right on the water and right by the bridge. You can’t beat the scenery. Plus, I get to perform with one of the living legends in our world today, a pioneer by the name of Big Daddy Kane."

Kane was born Antonio Hardy on Sept. 10, 1968 in Bed-Stuy. Over the course of his career, he has worked with artists such as Biz Markie, Rudy Ray Moore and Barry White. Kane was part of Marley Marl’s Juice Crew during hip-hop’s "golden age" of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and is also widely regarded as the man who jumpstarted rapper Jay-Z’s career.

Having Big Daddy Kane perform along with many of the rap game’s up-and-coming stars exemplifies this year’s mission for the Hip-Hop Festival, according to organizer Alma Geddy-Romero, of the Room Service Group.

"We want to blend the old school and the new school," Geddy-Romero said. "Just to kind of present an alternative to the mainstream by showcasing a high quality hip-hop event. It will show the roots of the genre and also where it’s going. So often hip-hop takes a bad rap, but this will show how it is a great thing and can be great for a community, to pull it together."

The event is expected to draw more than double last year’s show, and has more civic and municipal support than did last year’s. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce have voiced avid support for the festival and its positive potential, Geddy-Romero said.

The anticipated growth of the show has led to the need for a permanent home, which Geddy-Romero hopes has been secured.

"With the festival growing every year, we are looking for a home to grow with us, and the Brooklyn Bridge park can be a huge asset for us," Geddy-Romero said. "The waterfront can grow with us as well for years to come."

Rhymefest is returning to the festival this year. In 2005, the lyricist shared the stage with Brand Nubian, Little Brother and Leela James. With the recent release of his debut single "Brand New" with Kanye West and the follow-up single "Dynomite," Rhymefest is set for the release of his debut album, "Blue Collar."

Rhymefest is one of two artists hailing from Chicago performing at this year’s event. Joining him in representing the windy city is Lupe Fiasco.

"Last year, the vibe was off the chain," said Rhymefest. "In Brooklyn, it’s such a community vibe. This isn’t a show in Manhattan or Long Island, it’s just like the neighborhood people come from around the corner and enjoy some good music."

Rhymefest returns with a mission to show the people of Brooklyn, and the hip-hop community as a whole, that there are no boundaries or division when it comes to music. This is a music lover’s concert, he said.

"I’ve been telling my people in Chicago about this show for months; it’s all I’m talking about," said Rhymefest. "I know I’m going to bring something that I think is missing in today’s world of hip-hop: ballads. Not only can us cats from Chicago rap, we entertain, perform and we’re lyricists. We’re unafraid to let that part of our art show through, and you’re going to see that at the Festival."

Rhymefest said that the similarities between Chicago rappers (like himself, Kanye and Lupe Fiasco), and Brooklyn rappers (like Kane, Jay-Z and the late Biggie Smalls) far outweigh the differences.

Big Daddy Kane was a pioneer for rappers across the world who wanted their lyrics to stand above everything else in their music, said Rhymefest.

"Those guys from Brooklyn like Big Daddy Kane and Biggie, they had the same soul and sensibility that we are trying to develop in Chicago today," said Rhymefest. "That’s why this concert is going to be such a source of pride for me. It will show everyone just how hip-hop is supposed to be, coming from two of the best spots for hip-hop music in the world."

 

The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival will take place June 24, from noon to 8 pm, at The Tobacco Warehouse, inside Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park at 26 New Dock St. at Water Street in DUMBO. Tickets to the hip-hop festival are free and must be reserved in advance at www.brooklynbodega.com. An e-mail will then be sent back with information about where and when to pick up your ticket. For more information, call the Room Service Group at (718) 408-1151.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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