Armand Hammer, Alchemist, Moor Mother & friends took over SummerStage in Central Park (pics)
"Since billy woods first set up Backwoodz Studioz to self release his 2003 album Camouflage, the New York based label has come to represent a community of US hiphop artists with shared political ideas. As well as continuing to release works by woods and rapper/producer Elucid – both individually and together as Armand Hammer – the imprint also charts the experimentation and progression of several other writers firmly embedded in its roster, including Curly Castro, Blockhead, and others." [WIRE]
Lindsay Anne Powell aka Fielded -- whose 2020 R&B LP Demisexual Lovelace came out on Backwoodz and featured both woods and ELUCID -- said something about how different it was to be on the outdoor Central Park Summerstage stage since she's used to playing in basements. It's a great way to summarize the post(?)-pandemic, celebratory theme that ran through the entire (vaccinated) Backwoodz Studioz family show on Sunday (8/15).
After years of playing small and DIY venues around NYC, Armand Hammer were headlining their own show at Central Park Summerstage backed by The Alchemist as their DJ, who they joked took time off from important Grammy meetings and Bo Jackson to be there with them. He returned the compliment by saying they were something special. He also produced their great new album Haram from which many of the songs in their set came from (including set highlight and Haram closer "Stonefruit"), so of course it made perfect sense he'd be there (and he'll join them again in California later on their tour).
Al warmed up the crowd for about 15 minutes before the true stars of the night billy woods and ELUCID (who was wearing a Bo Jackson football jersey) took the stage, and then helped keep things moving for the next 60+ minute headlining set which included special guests who also appear on woods & ELUCID's albums and label. Kayana appeared to sing on a few songs, as did Fielded who was returning to the stage, and rap duo ShrapKnel came out to play "Aaron McKie" off their great 2020 s/t album after ShrapKnel member Curly Castro -- wearing a "Fuck Puff" shirt -- did his "Fuck Puff" verse on Armand Hammer's "Wishing Bad." Before exiting the stage, ShrapKnel's PremRock promoted his own solo record along with saying what a dream it was for them to play this show (especially with Al as their DJ). The tight production, fast pace, variety and special feeling to it all made a great show even greater.
After some short films courtesy of Rooftop Films at 6pm, the show opened with a DJ set by Geng PTP who was joined by rappers Fatboi Sharif and AKAI SOLO (who performed two songs). Then came a powerful but short set by Moor Mother before Fielded's short set. Unlike Fielded, Moor Mother and AKAI SOLO did not return to the stage, despite their many collaborations with woods and ELUCID. Blockhead never got on stage, but we spotted him backstage and in the crowd. In addition to songs off Haram, Armand Hammer's set included "Spongebob" from billy woods & Kenny Segal's 2019 album Hiding Places, some Small Bills tracks (ELUCID's project with The Lasso), and "Western Education is Forbidden" (w/ Fielded) from billy woods' solo LP Terror Management.
Check out more photos from the whole show by Edwina Hay, below...