One of the most common misconceptions about Hip-Hop is that it is merely just a genre of music. From the creation of Hip-Hop in the Bronx during the late 70’s, it was always about more than just the jams. It was the atmosphere created by deejays spinning records at block parties; it was the sense of community from the neighborhood; it was a culture that gave minorities a voice and artistic output during times of racial tension. Now in 2017, we have continue to be exposed to the ugly face of racism in our country but the aftermath of Charlottesville and other heinous events have brought together communities all across the United States to spread love, tolerance, and art in a similar manner. This same culture of artistic freedom in the face of tough times is alive and well today in Jersey City.
When stepping into Cathedral Hall for The Culture 2, you were immediately surrounded by local artists and vendors of color expressing themselves through their products that they’ve built from the ground up. I got to speak to local artist Hota’te from North Bergen who creates work that “captures his own reality”. His work stole my attention with his graffiti street-art influence and addition of newspaper clippings that created a third dimension to his pieces. Hota’te had many portraits on display of his favorite Hip-Hop idols including the night’s headliner 070 Shake (which he gifted to her later) but one piece in particular stood out to me. He named it “Art School Dropout”. It was a piece paying homage to Kanye West’s Graduation album cover but with his own spin on it telling the tale of him dropping out of school to pursue art full-time which he is now successfully doing.
Other local businesses included Jersey City’s SZN clothing company and Ray Arcadio who was live painting at the event. The talent and drive that all of these local visionaries had brought with them added so much to the overwhelmingly positive energy throughout the night and for some incredible work to take in before and in between the musical acts. The night was full of extraordinarily talented local rappers and singers. Every single act had a common aspect which was appreciation for the community. No one artist went on stage without immediately giving Jersey City love and thanking the crowd for coming out.
Local rap duo PeteyXKraze gave one of the best performances of the night with their infamous chemistry and charisma. Local rapper Flash brought up Jersey City MC’s Cali G. and Icon to perform Lane Switch hot off the recent release of his album “Legendary,” which is available now on Soundcloud. “We are the culture. The culture is us,” Flash told me while expressing his thoughts on the rise of the culture in Jersey City. “We’re becoming the 6th borough and I’m excited for everybody to be growing. We all started out as amateurs but now we’re growing into professionals and are able to do events like this.”
Host Hayoner brought the real Jersey City attitude to the stage in between sets with a classic JC back and forth greeting of “YEEERRRRRR!” to introduce the next artists. Along with expressing gratitude to KING TJAY who put the whole night together and performed a tremendous set closer to the end of the evening. Around 12:30AM the highly anticipated performance by headliner 070 Shake began leading the energy levels to crash through the roof with her excitement and liveliness on stage. The crowd matched her hype by responding to every new song with cheers, mosh pits, and gifts being continuously thrown to the point where she was completely decked out in local merch by the end of her set. It was a perfect finale for an unforgettable evening. Everybody showed up to support, show love, and see some amazing performances. It was a night for the people by the people and was heartwarming to see how far the culture in the Jersey City has come. The culture is not going anywhere anytime soon and better yet, it’s just beginning.
Additional photos provided by ibrosnaps