The 2018 SummerStage lineup is out which means tons of FREE outdoor concerts in all five boroughs of NYC. As always, there are tons of styles of music represented. Here's a run-down of all the free hip hop you can catch this year, from legendary, definitive acts to great newcomers.
Big Daddy Kane, whose impact on hip hop is undebatable, celebrates his 30th anniversary as an artist on June 20 at Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island. 6 PM doors.
There's a "Hip Hop You Don't Stop" dance showcase on June 22 in Coffey Park with It’s Showtime NYC, Lil Buck, Passion Fruit Dance Company, RestorationART Youth Arts Academy, and A Lady in the House Co with Guest DJ KS 360. 7 PM start.
Jay Critch, who The FADER called "the new New York" in a recent feature, plays Coffey Park on June 24 with Tony Seltzer and Friends and Nuyorican Poets Cafe: Mums and Aurora. 5 PM start.
Like they do during every SummerStage season, classic New York rap label Duck Down is throwing the annual the Duck Down BBQ on June 28 in Betsy Head Park. This year includes Black Moon and Smif N Wessun with live band and special guests. 7 PM start.
Brooklyn vet Talib Kweli (who's also busy with the return of Black Star this year) teams with NYC's best young neo-soul group, OSHUN, on June 30 in Betsy Head Park. 6 PM start.
The legendary EPMD play Springfield Park on July 8 with DJ Sylk. 5 PM start.
Native Tongues founders Jungle Brothers are playing Queensbridge Park on July 15. It's billed as "Jungle Brothers and friends" and it also features O.C., Kool DJ Red Alert, DJ Kool Flash, and more unannounced guests. 4 PM start.
Veteran crooner Ginuwine hits Corporal Thompson Park on July 22 with The Ladies of Pink Diamond and DJ Stacks. 5 PM start.
Legendary producer Pete Rock, who helped define the sound of New York rap as one half of Pete Rock & CL Smooth, a producer on Illmatic, and more, plays a collaborative set with jazz ensemble The Soul Brothers on Saturday, July 28 in Central Park. The bill also includes Hannah Williams & the Affirmations and DJ EMZ. It's a day show, with doors opening at 2 PM.
The back-in-action and still furious New York trio The LOX (aka Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch) team with the great newer New York rapper Young M.A (who clearly takes influence from The LOX and has collaborated with Jadakiss) on July 29 at Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island. The show also features special guest DJ Funk Flex and Torae is your host. 6 PM doors.
There's an 'Ultimate Break Beats' party on August 3 in Crotona Park with old school acts Breakbeat Lou, Special Ed, Nice and Smooth and Lord Finesse. There's also a pre-show hip hop dance workshop with Fabel at 6 PM.
Stretch Armstrong, Clark Kent, D-Nice, Rich Medina and Tony Touch are bringing The Originals party to Central Park on August 5. 5 PM doors. For more on The Originals, here's an excerpt of a Mass Appeal interview:
How did you guys come up with the idea for The Originals party?
Stretch Armstrong: Right after Hurricane Sandy I linked up with some people that wanted to do something because New York City was hit so hard. So I put together a list of DJs that included some of my friends (Rich Medina, Tony Touch, Clark Kent and D-Nice). Additionally, we asked Q-Tip to do the event and we had a magical night at Santos and it was so good that we all kind of spontaneously within days were like, “Yo, we need to do that more often!” It was a great party but what was extra special about that night was the amount of fun that we had with each other. It was almost as if it didn’t matter if there was a crowd there or not because we were kind of playing for each other like on some DJ nerd shit.
For someone who’s never been, how do you describe The Originals party?
Tony Touch: It’s just a collective of legendary DJs who made an impact in this industry for the past 20 years. All of us have history. Rich Medina has a history of creating some of the first feel-good parties in the city. Stretch Armstrong with the history of his radio show. D-Nice with his history of production and recording. And Clark Kent with his production and being one of the first people to organize a whole DJ crew period.
Stretch: I would say it’s a crew of DJs that happen to be great friends that all have a lot of history in music that come together once a month to play great music…for each other. We don’t play any records for the crowd. If that was the case we’d be playing a lot of more recent mainstream stuff but we don’t.
Wild Style, the highly influential 1983 film that impacted hip hop forever, will once again throw an anniversary party during SummerStage (their 35th) on August 9 in East River Park. The event page reads: "The evocative film culminates with an infamous, real-life 1982 concert that took place at the East River Amphitheater, in which the likes of Rammelzee, The Fantastic Five, and Treacherous Three, performed. 35 years later, the stars of the film invite and special guest DJ Funk Flex fans and friends to celebrate with them at that very place." There's also a pre-show hip hop dance workshop with Fabel at 6 PM.
DeJ Loaf, the great Detroit newcomer whose anticipated debut album Liberated hopefully comes out this year, plays Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island on August 12. 6 PM doors.
Rapsody, whose Laila's Wisdom was one of the best albums of 2017, plays Marcus Garvey Park on August 19. 5 PM start.
Though not hip hop himself, electronic musician Mura Masa is known for bringing rappers on stage with him, and he plays Central Park on August 19 with Jessy Lanza. 6 PM doors.
Check out the full SummerStage schedule HERE and watch some videos from some of the above-mentioned acts below: