Brooklyn Bodega's Show and Prove - Making History

Brooklyn Bodega President, Wes Jackson highlighted a startling fact midway through the third leg of the Show and Prove series: the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival is the only annual Hip Hop Festival in New York City.

Now, we're talking about festivals of size, all-day-Hip-Hop-events. Festivals with local and national artists. International acts. Cats like Ghostface Killah, KRS-ONE, Big Daddy Kane, Fat Joe, Lupe Fiasco, etcetera, etcetera. Festivals like the legendary HOT97 Summer Jam. Or the ubiquitous Rock The Bells festival series.

I'll say it again...just to make sure it sinks in. The Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival is the only annual Hip Hop Festival in New York City.


Lets put it into perspective: HOT97's Summer Jam is held annually at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NEW JERSEY. Rock The Bells festival series is held each Summer in Jones Beach, LONG ISLAND. And that’s dope. Both organizations host premiere events. Live Hip Hop is a blessing anywhere you can get it.

But this is New York City. Hip Hop's birth place. The Mecca. Logic would dictate that this City, complete with a history as rich this one, would have Hip Hop festivals littered in parks and venues throughout the 5boroughs. Ironically, and unfortunately, that just isn't the case.

Despite the fact that BHF is the lone Hip Hop festival within The City limits, fiscally speaking, three major festivals within the tri-state area is serious competition for any ambitious promoter - especially in this economy. People are stretching duckets as far as possible. How many fifty-bucks-plus tickets can the average head afford?

And thats what makes Brooklyn Bodega and its endeavor to further The Culture so significant. The Bodega Fam has managed to assemble the top shelf Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival for 5 years - gaining in notoriety while maintaining an emphasis on affordability. A ticket to this year's BHF - featuring Pharoahe Monch, Dead Prez, DJ Premiere, Styles P, J.Period and a "group of Emcees that are gonna fuckin blow your mind", Marco Polo, Brown Bag AllStars, and who knows who else - is only 10 bucks. And the Bodega just started charging anything at all a couple years ago. Back in the day, you could register online, wait for the confirmation email, and pick up your ticket - FOR FREE - at Halcyon, or Fat Beats. The BHF has been a labor of love since its inception. Brooklyn Bodega is the only organization in The City doing it this big, in this manner. That you must respect.

That you must support.

What's most appreciated is that Bodega shows are no longer limited to the annual BHF. The Show and Prove series is now one of this region’s most consistent underground events - providing a venue for the next wave of hungry Emcees to show skills. What started as a three-part competition series awarding the right to rock the main stage at this year's festival, looks to evolve into a regular event even after the festivities. April was quality. The collection of artists did not disappoint and The Mayor, Homeboy Sandman, shut it down as featured artist. Only great things have been said about March (which TQ missed). And May may be the tightest competition yet. Sleepwalkas, Brokn.Englsh, Those Chosen, and 8thW1 are all noticeably talented. All four came A-game equipped. Each act deserves a presence at this year's BHF.


"These dudes up here, these are our Stevie Wonders. These are our Marvin Gayes. These are our Teddy Pendegrasses. All that shit that yall grew up with that yall parents listen to - we are creating it right now. This is history making right now." - Wes Jackson at the May 21st Show and Prove


The "Best Guerilla Marketing Campaign To Get On Brooklyn Bodega's Show And Prove" award goes to the Thoroughest Borough duo, Sleepwalkas. Along with their bourgeoning reputation, Brooklyn Emcees K.Gaines, Cyph Diggy, and DJ Polarity hustled into the showcase by distributing lime-green fliers at the March and April shows, urging people to email, demanding their inclusion in the May Show And Prove. Some ‘old school street-team’ shit. "Grind" is synonymous with their name. Sleepwalkas have rocked everywhere from the Iguana Lounge, to EODUB, to the Knitting Factory. And from the moment they touched this night's stage, it was clear they were here with a purpose.

Sleepwalkas opened with the head-nod inducing, "Take That" - kicking ill cypher-rhymes over a thumping, horn-heavy soundscape - commanding the crowd to DJ Polarity’s beat. "Number 1 contender. / avatar-word bender." These cats were lyrically ready, locked and loaded with energy. By the time K.Gaines' exclaimed "Put your hands up for the hood sensation" on the closing verse to the nostalgic "Holiday”, drinks hit in the air like money shots. And chances are most of those in the house had not previously heard the song. Add that to the fact that they opened the showcase! Every audience is sleepy (pun intended) in the beginning. Not a problem for K.Gaines and Cyph Diggy. Dope beats plus dope rhymes equals immediate attention. Sleepwalkas captured the crowd from jumpstreet.

I gotta say this though: Sleepwalkas truest example of showmanship came when the duo guided the audience through a brief tour of BHF history, MCing over beats from performances past (Fat Joe, KRS-One, etcetera) while providing a glimpse into this year's festival (Pharoahe Monch).

"If you wasn't there something's wrong with you!! " – K.Gaines

Whether or not this is comparable to kissing up to the teacher is irrelevant for two reasons: (a) nostalgia plays well with live audiences, especially when rocking crowds unfamiliar with your music; and (b) in a broader context, their tribute highlighted the growing legacy of the BHF itself. A 5th-annual-anything is a significant milestone and a testament to vitality. The down side, like any other interlude, crowd energy was lost due to the break in the action (Sleepwalkas picked it back up on their final track, “Nuff Said”). That aside, their tribute was necessary and appreciated for many reasons, regardless of the motivation. Dope shit.


Brick City’s Brokn.Englsh continues to make a name for itself within the 5boroughs, having rocked the Knitting Factory and Sputnik Bar this side of the Hudson. first met (1/3 of the trio) Myk Dyaleks during the April Show and Prove but had yet to experience a live performance. Judging from their entertaining BE Diaries webisode series – Dyaleks, Cion Buris, and Lyriq2Go ooze chemistry – they genuinely enjoy kicking it with each other. As if they’re actually having fun together. Hopefully that translates into their live set.

Brokn.Englsh jumped in with the soulful, bass-heavy “Right About Now” (Cion Buris suitably crooning the hook), raucous energy and natural chemistry on full display. The tone carried through the sublime “I Remember My First Time / First love was kinda my first rhyme” before peaking on the anthemic “Make Some Noise” (the audience erupted immediately as BE broke it down into a back-in-the-day House Party dance. Not the classic Kid and Play dance from House Party. But the Kid and Groove dance where Groove passes out drunk right after the spin move. Again, nostalgia plays well to live audiences).

All set long, BE seemed to innately play off one another, complimenting each other on stage. Clearly these three enjoy rocking together, making their performance more engaging to watch. Unfortunately, there is such a thing as too engaging, and BE reached that point near the end of “Make Some Noise.” Following the dope old school dance break down, Lyriq2Go jumped down audience level to kick his last verse. Now in a stadium style venue this would translate more effectively. But in Public Assembly, where the audience is all on the same level, those in the back can’t see the action and therefore can’t feed off the energy. In fact, I looked away as Lyriq first left the stage and surprisingly couldn’t find him when I looked back. At one point I thought he was on stage lying down!

With that aside, the crowd felt the performance. BE commanded a high energy show complete with memorable songs and memorable moments. And their overall style is a great fit for the BHF. Stiff comp. Stiff comp.

Those Chosen

Those Chosen certainly made the longest commute to Public Assembly. Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Japetto, Kornbread, and Foreshadow trekked cross-country to compete in this night's Show and Prove. Watch out for these cats. Those Chosen has a sizeable following out West and continues to work with major industry players. Not only have they rocked stages along with Slick Rick and Little Brother, but their upcoming mixtape - Steamulis (The Watts Riot Effect) - is hosted by Mick Boogie (available June 15th).

"Don't speak on how I live / and our grind ain't the same." - Those Chosen

Those Chosen probably had the night's most balanced performance. No interludes. No choreographed dance moves. A solid show nonetheless. Set openers, "Own Lane" and "All In All" felt like classic boom-bap-type-tracks, and "The Feelin'" fulfilled the night's nostalgia quota. Dope. All three. TC wrapped with the thumping "Soundclash," rounding out a well assembled performance.

To be honest, The Company Man was a bit surprised at the crowd response, or lack thereof, during TC's set. I mean, their energy was consistent. They went hard all the way through. Songs were dope. The beats were dope. Rhymes were dope. Something just didn't resonate. Don't get me wrong, no one in the audience threw tomatoes - Sandman didn't sweep them off stage Apollo-style or anything. The crowd was certainly receptive. Heads nodded throughout.

No doubt.

It’s just that given the overall quality of their performance, a greater crowd reaction would've been expected. Maybe it was because their performance didn't yield more opportunity for participation. Maybe regional bias. Maybe their set was too balanced in comparison to the two previous acts. Who knows the reason? Nevertheless, Those Chosen did their thing. Anyone not checking for them in the future is starving themselves.



Arguably the least known member of the AOK Collective, New Jersey native 8thW1 left a significant mark on Show and Prove. Hitting the stage with an aggressive, unapologetic, b-boy demeanor – 8thW1 was the only non-group competing tonight. Decked in D&G reading glasses, white T-Shirt flashing the logo for his most recent LP (LoveMoneyandMusic) across the chest, and khaki cargo shorts – 8th roamed the stage like an Emcee is supposed to. Each syllable spilled confidence. Every lyric spit with a purpose.

“My name’s 8thW1 and I’m tired of wack shit!” – 8thW1

From mic to plug, 8thW1 maintained ardent energy and animation throughout the set. Opening track “Some say its vision / some say its sight” (not sure of the actual title) provided a head-knocking lyrical introduction, and his ensuing sick acappella-16 garnered instant crowd reaction - "35 and older say we need 'Pac. / I listen to me. I think not!"

“My name’s 8thW1, and don't put no fuckin sugar in my food!” – 8thW1

Eighth displayed his ability to command the crowd at the beginning of the impressive “The Pressure” – where he (presumably) botched the lead-in to the first verse and started off beat. Before it became obvious to the audience, 8th stopped the DJ, turned to crowd as if we did something wrong, and initiated a commanding call and response – “When I say Pressure, you say ‘WHAT’!” The crowd complied immediately, and then it was back to the track as if that was part of the song. Tragedy averted. The audience remained unaware. Exactly how its supposed to be done. Bravo.

“I don’t gotta dumb it down, this is how I talk! / Passionate! / with a lisp. / I use / literal figuratives / to make a point like a finger tip!” – 8thW1

Along with displaying professional crowd command, 8th delivered diverse song selections, both lyrically and sonically. "Sugar", with its anthemic production and infectious hook ("They claim we sellin' crack / but you be doin that!"), touches on the addictive level of sugar found in just about everything we consume ("Sugar sugar sugar won't you give me give me more / of your sweet elixir until my liver gets sore"). Ironically, the HARDEST track of the night. And "Drunken Saturday" is a happy ode to his favorite buzz-inducers, complete with a hook Professor X couldn't remove for your dome if he tried. Ill. Simply ill.

"I'm the favorite. / Fuck pretendin!" 8thW1

8thW1 shut it down. And he knew it. You could tell by the way he vacated the stage. No salutations. No shout outs. No 'hit me at'. He simply placed the mic back on the stand and exited stage left - only leaving behind audience adoration. 

And deservedly so. 8th's lyrical one-man-show was packed with energy and diversity. His track choices were on point. His delivery and word-play translated clearly throughout this live performance.  He was the only solo artist and the only one without a nostalgic track - distinguishing himself from the comp. Honestly? The total package. This was the type of show that forces you to immediately buy the performers product. And thats exactly what The Company Man did (LoveMoneyandMusic review coming soon).

The Wrap Up

Brooklyn Bodega has done it again. Another good night. Another quality array of talent. Again, asking for anything more is straight Bernie Madoff (greedy).

Seriously though, choosing a winner out of tonight's performers is not an easy decision. There's so much to consider. All four maintained high energy throughout. All four came lyrically prepared. Sleepwalkas hit hard with 'Take That' and 'Holiday' and somehow fit in an absolutely necessary BHF tribute. Brokn.Englsh arguably had the most energy of all, earning the loudest crowd response with the House Party break down. Those Chosen's overall balanced set was more than Worthy (like James). And 8thW1's stellar song selection, lyrical creativity, and brash showmanship shut it down. Tough choices.

Queue the Jeopardy theme music.

From our perspective, its a push between Brokn.Englsh and 8thW1. BE's live performance, crowd appeal, and flare for the nostalgia would play well at the BHF. 8th's overall creativity plays well with people in general. Both deserve the opportunity to be pitted against previous Show and Prove winners, Children of the Night and Brown Bag Allstars.

But since this is a competition, there must be a winner. And the winner is...


Based primarily on live audience appeal and ability to jump start the crowd for the rest of the day's festivities, Brokn.Englsh's high octane performance, dope track listing, and flare for the nostalgic is a perfect fit for the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival.

As for the overall winner of the Show and Prove series - and I say this without witnessing Children of the Night's March performance - has got to be Brown Bag Allstars. Like we said before, "The crew's highly energetic live set and crowd command is bred for rocking live shows. Theirs is the type of show that the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival is now known for." BBAS will make sure the BHF starts off correct.


Once again, we leave you as Show and Prove left us...with an ill cypher featuring Homeboy Sandman, Prezzure, Brown Bag Allstars, Mr. Beatz, and several other of tomorrow's best.

***Editors Note:  Congratulations to Brokn.Englsh for winning the May Show and Prove as well as Brown Bag Allstars for taking home the overall Show and Prove Crown.  No doubt these fellas will represent.***


Homeboy Sandman said...


Straight Spitters said...

Nice write up my dude.