Immortal Entertainment’s “Brooklyn Beats to Beirut Streets: The Redux” Hip Hop aint dead it lives in the Middle East
It was the 4th of July 2009 when I first met B+ , it was the premier of Mochilla‘s “Tradition in Transition” a film they shot with music producer Quantic in Cali, Colombia. I was there with Ragtop and I remember B+ rocking an “Intifada LA” shirt. We went up to B and introduced ourselves, we had a common friend and that was our in.
Little did i know that 6 months later B+ and his Mochilla partner Eric Coleman would be on a plane heading to the Middle East.
We had worked out two events to coincide with the current Middle Eastern tour of the “Human Writes Project ” which features Def Poet & educator Mark Gonzales, Ragtop & Omar Offendum. The shows would take place at Basement in Beirut on the 10th of January and at Flow in Amman on the 15th. They would feature B+ and Eric Coleman as opening Dj’s , poetry by Gonzales, rhymes by Offendum and Ragtop and Dj Lethal Skillz holding down the decks of steel, representing Arab turntablalism. In Beirut a selection of local MC’s also would perform and we were lucky to add Malikah “The Queen of Arab Hip Hop” to the Amman line up in her first ever performance in our city. This was our test to see if audiences in the region are ready for some new sounds and music from around the world.
Basement- 10th of January 2010 – Beirut, Lebanon : Words by Laith.
We get to Basement and do a quick soundcheck, people are already trying to come in, B+ and Eric test the vinyls, all is good, the lights go down and B+ gets behind the decks. He opens the night by dropping one of the orchestral compositions off the Suite for Ma Dukes record, J Dilla is present with us through his music and then a selection of Ethio-jazz, brazilian grooves and many forgotten gems from around the world headline his set. Eric Coleman took the decks next and got the crowd moving, bringing back that firecracker flair he’s known for. Mark Gonzales dropped some knowledge on the crowd with his poetic powers, Omar Offendum surprised the audience with an Arabic verse and 6 foot plus Ragtop hovered over the crowd with his rhymes. The boys built up the crowd to a frenzy which set up the stage for the local 961 Hip Hop massive. RGB got to the crowd first, then Ramcess showed the new blood of the lebanese hip hop movement to the Basement crowd. The Queen of Arab Hip Hop “Malikah” graced the crowd with her high energy and lyrical chops, Zoog joined in with his slippery flows. Then Chino commented that the bartender was “hot” before he started his song, and to end it I-Voice from the Burj Al-Barajneh refugee camp took the local act to an end. Lethal Skillz got the crowd dancing with some old hip hop favorites and with his surgical cutting transitioned the end of his set to Eric Coleman who showed his mixing skills and ability to get the crowds to continue dancing.
I think the photos and the video at the bottom of the post should give you an idea of how things went down…Beirut our promise to you is we’ll do this again soon.
Flow- 15th of January- Amman, Jordan – Words by Nasser.
We in….Amman ? That’s what most of you asked us during our Jan 15th Show at Flow, to be honest we were asking ourselves, that same question.
When Mochilla and HWP gave their approval for this project, the nervousness hit hard, here we are in our first official event ever working with guys that have worked with Madlib, OH NO, Damien Marely, Wu Tang Clan, Biggie , Jurassic 5, DJ Shadow , Cut Chemist, The Roots, Erykah Badu, Lauren Hill , Jay Electroica and basically everyone we ever admired in hip hop. On the other hand we had HWP , an integral part of our family , that had intrsuted us to deliver what we promised, two of the dopest hip hop shows to bless Amman and Beirut. A tall task specially when legends and family are involved . Oh and did I mention that one of the founders of the Arab hip hop scene ( DJ lethalskillz) and the queen of arab hip hop ( Malikah) were also coming?
In what is a primarly electronic music market ( Amman and Beirut) the task of organizing and promoting such an event is indeed monumental , whomever we talked to looked at us if we were crazy, what do you mean you want to throw a show mixing Ehtiopian Jazz, Brazilian Funk and Colombian music with the political raps of HWP? In a club setting? In Amman? Whats wrong with you seemed to be the consensus
Little do they, or for that matter we know that we will be able to throw the best hip hop event party to ever hit Amman, we say this with humbleness as we know that what made the night special were the performences of the DJ’s , Mcs and the crowd. those of you who attended know that they attended something really special, a night when the 300 plus attendees grooved, jumped up and down, nodding their head non stop till they almost fell off, and chanted hip hop and lyrics off the top of their lungs for five hours. That is simply unheard off in Amman , we knew it, the crowd knew it and the performers knew it . We in….Amman ? indeed we were , welcome to Immortal’s Amman.
Here is a quick video showing how the night went down.
Till next time 3iiish Peace
All Images © 2010 Laith Al-Majali / Immortal Entertainment