• 27Jul

    #BHF11 Round Up: Importance of the Live Show

    In it’s seventh year, the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival was bigger than ever in every sense — from headliners to opening acts to the buzz behind it all. Months prior there is non-stop excitement for those who help behind the scenes with talks of who Q-Tip could possibly bring out on stage with him — a list that is pretty limitless. Then the talks of Kanye begin and are later confirmed. But it was not just the headliner that is bringing the crowd. Everyone on the performers list was someone worth seeing because they all shared one thing in common: a reputation for a great live show. The outcome of this came to be what many would call a performance fit for the Grammy’s, live right in Brooklyn. At a time when viral videos and free mixtapes seem to be taking all the focus in the music industry, BHF reminds us how integral an artist’s show really is to their fans. But in walking around the festival grounds it is evident that it is just as important to the artists themselves, veterans and rookies alike. Brooklyn Bodega goes backstage to ask this year’s performers what the importance of the live show is to them. Check out what Black Thought, Eternia, Random Axe and more had to say here:

    Sean Price: “I mean we got to make our money somehow. Shit, I mean I make records just to perform them, I don’t really give a f*ck about sales no more. The live show is very important, that’s how I feed my family.”

    Guilty Simpson: “I think for some people they might use props, they might have this big drawn out stage thing. But for me as a fan, I just hope the artist can sound as good or better than they do on the record. That’s really all I ask for. I can appreciate a Jill Scott show where she sits there and sings just like I can appreciate a Beyonce show where she never sits still. So, it’s the same thing in Hip-Hop, everybody is not going to do the same thing. So the only thing I ask is for you to be able to project on the mic and bring something to the table and just sound good.”

    Rah Digga: “The live show is important because it always brings a song to life, and for a lot of people it really makes the song for you. You could hear a song on the radio and you really don’t get the feeling or it doesn’t grab you until you see somebody perform it live. I feel like artists performing live are a testament to their artistry. It’s not easy getting on stage and rocking the stage, a lot of these artists perform dolo, no hype man, no pyro, no circus stunts, no hundred people on stage pacing back and forth wasting people’s money making the crowd sing everything. We get up there and go in. So, I think the live show brings everything together full circle.”

    Black Milk:  “The live show is important because there are certain fans where that will kind of make or break them as a fan after they see your show. For example, I know I’ve been to a show and say ‘damn this show was wack as f*ck,’ and been disappointed or others where I didn’t think they were so great but then saw their live show and they won me over. It just depends. So it’s important to be an artist that sounds just as dope on the stage as they do behind the mic. You got to know how to rock the crowds, or if you don’t then just stay home.”

    Black Thought: “I actually think the live show is losing its importance right now. It’s more important now to put out something that will shock and draw people in more immediately. Like people come up to me and ask ‘How should I shop my tape?’ or ‘How can I get people interested in my music?’ and the best way to do that is to do something that’s going to be viral. Just put out some viral video post that people are going to know you as the person that did that.”

    Eternia:  “These days the only way an artist can really make any money –- and this is as major artists not even [independents] –- is by hitting the road. There is really no sales in record sales anymore. However, when people have an amazing show experience they will buy music. Music is a memory; it’s not something they feel like they have to buy in the store anymore, that’s why all the stores are closing down. So this isn’t just about money, it’s about a connection with your audience and that connection is manifested by the fact that people make a living still on the road even if they are not making a living off of record sales. So, that’s what it is about. I think a strong stage show is more important than anything.”

    Phony PPL: “The live show is where you get a better understanding of our personality. It’s a really great way to show your fans what you are about and a really good way to get new fans. Live shows bring people together, people from different aspects of life -– live music right in front of them with real people playing the music that they love.”

    Nitty Scott MC: “The live show is very important especially in this day and age with the state of record sales and just the way the music industry is changing. Even just financially, live shows are where it’s at. These tours are a great way to expose yourself to different fan bases and that’s what I’m trying to do as an artist right now –- just pay my dues. If it means being the opening to the opening act or whatever the case may be, just really putting myself in front of new people as much as possible and perfecting my live show. With every show I do I get a lot better, I’ve gotten a lot more confident. It’s just a big part of being an artist in 2011.”

    Homeboy Sandman:  “The live show has always been important and it’s always going to be. I don’t think the industry has anything to do with what goes on [at the BHF] or in Hip-Hop at all. A live show is an integral part of Hip-Hop. There are some artists that make great recordings and don’t really rock great live, that’s cool I can appreciate them and they talent. For me, rocking live is the earliest form of life. Before there were microphones, 8 tracks, tapes, or anyway to record music, there was a Neanderthal banging rocks together, that’s how the party got started. The first party was started by Neanderthals rocking live. That’s really where all this got started so I really appreciate that.” 

    Shad:  “There’s definitely a lot of emphasis in this day on the live show which I think is really good. It’s a way to connect with people right there and I happen to enjoy that. Some artists maybe it’s not their favorite way of communicating but I like it. I like to perform and connect with people live. As far as sustaining yourself as an artist it’s a big deal.”

    Follow Navani Otero on Twitter @Navani

    Images by Photo Rob Adam Mayer

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