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Beatboxer Kid Lucky keeps subway's link to hip hop alive
"We don't want your money," Kid Lucky, a rapper and beatboxer, yelled to riders inside the last car of a northbound No. 4 train on Sunday night.
What he wants is their attention as he and his group of about 20 fellow beatboxing and rap enthusiasts turn an evening train ride into an impromptu freestyle rap show.
Kid Lucky, an East Villager whose real name is Terry Lewis, organized the Hip Hop Subway Series, which was held on Sunday night as part of the fourth annual American Human Beatbox Festival. The show started at the Bleecker Street station around 6 p.m. and the group hopped off the train at 125th Street, to meet with members of the Pregones Theater in the Bronx. The two groups held a dance and beatboxing performance in the back of the southbound platform of the No. 4 train at 125th Street, attracting riders.
Lewis has been organizing the Hip Hop Subway Series since 2006 and has put on more than 200 performances.
"Hip-hop has always been a part of the subway system," he said. "The connection is still there-the dancers are still there, the rappers are still there."
As for any hassle from the police, Lewis said they have been nice and at times have even helped him and his beatboxers get on the train.
Lewis, sporting a black shirt that read "King Home Boy" in white letters and a stylishly half-shaved head and beard, explained that he started to put on his beatboxing shows as a reaction to the misogyny and violence he saw in hip-hop music.
"We never had a fight on them, we never had drama on them," the Zulu Nation member said of his shows.
While on the train, riders pulled out devices to capture the performances on video and even seemingly disinterested passengers were bopping their heads as rappers spit lyrics about subway ads, station stops and New York City life.
"It shows the life of New York City," said one impressed rider, Edgar Puesan, 31, of Mott Haven. "Their skills are really good."
Lewis' beatboxing partner Kaila Mullady said the music style fits well in a creative city like New York.
"If you think about the city, you think about the subway, so it really feels like a home for art in a way, especially organic art like [beatboxing]," Mullady said.
Plus, performing on the subway means a built-in audience -- "whether they like it or not," she added.