By Tamara Palmer
Hip-hop features prominently at the 15th edition of the Red Bull Music Academy, an international festival currently taking place at various venues in New York through May 31.
RBMA has planned an ambitious program of concerts and club events that features tributes to artists like David Bowie and Brian Eno and nights dedicated to genres such as electronic music and jazz (though an improvisational jazz duet night on May 1 is given a hip-hop spin with the inclusion of ?uestlove). But hip-hop’s breadth and history is well-represented in New York this month.
Highlights include tonight’s “Fillmatic” screening of rare documentaries and panel with Afrika Bambaataa and Schoolly D; a live performance by Mykki Blanco (May 7); a soundclash between Just Blaze, Young Guru, Federation Sound, and Fools Gold Records (May 9); a “Drum Majors” showcase featuring Mannie Fresh, DJ Mustard, Bangladesh, and Young Chop (May 22); and a DJ gig with classic jocks Bambaataa, Egyptian Lover, and Magic Mike (May 23).
Private lectures and collaborative recording sessions, held for successful admittants to the Academy, are traditionally kept secret from the public until the results are revealed on the RBMA YouTube channel, are also a facet of the proceedings. We’ve learned that this year’s event was to have included a lecture with Rakim, but was canceled for undisclosed reasons.
Though many sessions are sold out, there are still more opportunities to get a taste of the sonic experience via RBMA Radio streams. One event of note that will be available to stream takes place tomorrow night (April 30) at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Held in conjunction with Los Angeles label Brainfeeder Records, it’s set to feature Erykah Badu spinning rap jams in her DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown mode and producer Flying Lotus making his New York debut as an MC called Captain Murphy.