NEWARK, NJ - For the 10th anniversary of the bi-annual Alternate Routes Hip Hop Festival (the fifth festival overall), NJPAC hosts more than twenty hip hop artists spanning myriad artistic disciplines including dance, rap, djing, theater, spoken word and film. The festival’s five events take place April 7 through April 9 in the Arts Center’s Chase Room. Kicking off the festival, students from Newark and Union City schools will perform poems they created in NJPAC’s In-School Residency Program. Other events include the New Jersey premiere of the film All The Ladies Say, a dance party and an evening devoted to the elements of hip hop.
Word Jam, Thursday, April 7, 4-6pm
Approximately 30 students from Newark’s Burnet Street School, Louise A. Spencer School, Newark Innovation Academy and Union City High School, all of whom studied poetry in the classroom through NJPAC’s In-School Residency Program, will read their own work. Tamesha Hawkins, a professional poet and performer who studied in NJPAC’s Arts Training program, and Shamsuddin “Sham” Abdul-Hamid, a 2010 Women’s Association of NJPAC/Star-Ledger Scholarship for the Performing Arts recipient and longtime NJPAC arts training student, host the spoken word performance. Middy Baraka DJs the free event.
Drop, Pop, Scratch! A Hip Hop Dance Party, Thursday, April 7, 8pm DJ Rich Medina is a legend in New York, Philadelphia and across the world for dance parties spanning genres from hip hop to Afrobeat and from salsa to funk, as well as for performing with artists such as Lauryn Hill, De La Soul, Erykah Badu, Seun Kuti, Tony Allen, Femi Kuti, Jill Scott and many more. On April 7, he brings his DJing prowess to Newark for a night of old school hip hop and funk. This dance party is one of three dance parties hosted by NJPAC’s Alternate Routes this season. Tickets are $16.
Sacred Circle Café, Friday, Friday, April 8, 8pm As in past years, Alternate Routes’ Sacred Circle Café is included in the hip hop festival this year. Guest curator and internationally-acclaimed, Newark-born artist Talaam Acey curated and will host a night of spoken word with artists from across the country. Acey’s work has been featured multiple times on BET, in Essence magazine and at the Sundance Film Festival. He has recorded more than a dozen cds, authored four books, and lectured at UC Berkeley and hundreds of other schools. Hand picked by Acey to join him onstage are: 13 of Nazareth, who has been featured on BET’s “Lyric Café;” Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, who spent three seasons on “HBO’s Def Poetry Jam” and has performed in over 450 venues worldwide; Lamar Hill, a Newark native who left a successful sales job in 1999 to follow his passion for spoken word, and has, in the subsequent twelve years, recorded multiple cds and published a book and three plays; Narubi Selah, a vocalist, spoken word artist, actress, lyricist, middle school educator, and the 2005 “New Jersey Slam Queen,” who has performed and recorded with Poor Righteous Teachers, Lauryn Hill, Mos Def, and Big Pun as well as on “HBO’s Def Poetry Jam” and in multiple off-Broadway shows; Buddy Wakefield, who in 2001 left his job at a biomedical firm, sold all of his belongings, devoted himself to spoken word and, ten years later, is a two-time individual World Poetry Slam Champion featured on NPR, the BBC and “HBO’s Def Poetry Jam;” and Sunni Patterson, a spoken word artist and social activist who has toured to Africa, been featured on “HBO’s Def Comedy Jam,” and performed with artists such as Hannibal Lokumbe, Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Dead Prez and Cee-Lo. Tickets are $16.
Ladies First, Saturday, April 9, 1pm
The Womanhood Learning Project, in collaboration with NJPAC’s Alternate Routes, will feature a discussion with recipients of its Ladies First! Fund micro-grant program. The grants are given to women in hip hop to develop creative ideas that inspire social change or expand women’s entrepreneurial opportunities and roles. In 2009, NJPAC chose Martha Diaz, a hip hop media producer, educator, and community organizer, to create the Ladies First! Fund. Diaz, in turn, provided seed money to three grantees: Ana “B-Girl Rokafella” Garcia, producer/director of the film All The Ladies Say, Candice “DJ Kuttin Kandi” Custodio-Tan, producer of The Womyn’s Hip Hop Movement, and Vanessa Nisperos, creator of the 5th Element website project. Rokafella will screen the New Jersey premiere of All The Ladies Say, and all three grantees will be joined in the panel discussion by Maria “Toofly” Castillo and Sheikia “Purple Haze” Norris, two new grantees. This is a free event.
Hip Hop Fundamentals 102, Saturday, April 9, 8pm Hosted and curated by Andreas Jackson and Max-Jerome, Hip Hop Fundamentals 102 focuses on the elements of hip hop: DJing, emceeing, turntablism and break dancing. Hip hop dancer and singer Rockafella will perform with her live band, as will Newark’s own Daniel Joseph (aka espeeONE), Newark-based DJ/Producer duo FreeHand (comprised of DJ Priority and Mentplus), Latina actress/emcee Maria Isa, and DJ Rob Swift, who was featured in the documentary “Scratch” and has appeared in a GAP commercial, on ESPN, “The Late Show with David Letterman,” MTV, FUSE and even “Sesame Street.” Tickets are $16.
Since October 1999, Baraka Sele, Curator/Producer of NJPAC’s Alternate Routes, has presented local, national and international hip hop artists as part of the Sacred Circle/Spoken Word Conference and Festival and the on-going series, Sacred Circle Café. Sacred Circle Café has featured such artists as Rennie Harris, Sarah Jones, Sekou Sundiata, Taalam Acey, Toni Blackman and Will Power. Sele has also presented such groundbreaking artists as Mos Def and the Fo Deuk Revue, which included Senegalese rappers Positive Black Soul, among others. These events were a catalyst for the creation of the Alternate Routes Hip Hop Festival, which has hosted Afrika Bambaata, Doug E. Fresh, Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers, and DJ Hard Hittin’ Harry, among others.
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, New Jersey, is the sixth largest performing arts center in the United States. As New Jersey’s Town Square, NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the State’s and the world’s best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted over 6 million visitors (more than one million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.