BAM’s April Hip-Hop Showcase Shines Light on The Last Poets

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The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) announced their annual hip-hop and spoken word showcase, Word. Sound. Power. 2024: SOUND—Rhythm is Rhythm, will be on stage in April. Featured artists include Hetep BarBoy, Kumbaya and JSWISS, with longtime director, co-curator, and host MC Baba Israel.

This edition of Word. Sound. Power. draws inspiration from the rich legacy of The Last Poets and the vibrant tradition of the hip-hop cipher, according to a news release. The Last Poets, often hailed as the forefathers of hip-hop, emerged in the late 1960s with powerful spoken-word performances that gave Black America its voice amidst social and political upheaval. Their influence continues to resonate in the rhythms and messages of contemporary artists.

“Hip-hop embodies an ongoing dialogue between the beat and the community,” said Mikal Amin Lee, co-curator and BAM Education Manager. “Sometimes, it’s the rhyme that answers back, while other times, it’s the body that continues the discussion.”

This year, the aim is to spotlight the dynamic conversation between beats and rhymes, in the spirit of The Last Poets, the block, and the Cipher, Lee said. 

The lineup boasts an array of talent who will perform new and existing work from their solo catalogs. Hetep BarBoy, a prodigious nine-year-old emcee; Kumbaya, a lyricist who weaves tales of resilience; and JSWISS, an emcee whose work at the intersection of hip-hop, jazz, and soul exemplifies the genre’s boundless potential. These artists, along with student poets from Brooklyn public schools, will bring to life stories of agency, creativity, and cultural celebration.

Word. Sound. Power. is a 70-minute showcase followed by a 20-minute Q&A with the artists, providing insight into their creative processes and the impact of hip-hop culture across generations. Tickets start at $25.

Word. Sound. Power. 2024: SOUND—Rhythm is Rhythm

BAM Fisher (Fishman Space, 321 Ashland Place)

  • Friday, April 19 at 7:30 pm.
  • Saturday, April 20 at 7:30 pm.

For more information, visit BAM.org.

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