The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, taking place this week, includes a multitude of speakers at the Hip-Hop Institute, and its Homecoming Concert is headlined by two of the best emcees to ever hold a microphone: Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def).
But the event during the festival that may best combine all the elements of hip-hop is the Juice Hip-Hop Exhibition, a night that celebrates the skills of the DJ, rapper, dancer and artist.
The show, which has roots dating back to curator Juels Pierrot’s time at Alabama A&M, is a celebration of what’s to come in each of hip-hop’s major disciplines.
amNewYork caught up with Pierrot (who doubles as the festival’s Director of Programming and Marketing Communications) to talk about curating, challenges, and the festival’s namesake borough.
What is it about Brooklyn that inspires this kind of festival love?
It’s the energy. It’s so many young people moving into the city, so many young people who can rent a crib out in Brooklyn, so it’s becoming a melting pot for everyone coming from different cities that can’t live in Manhattan. And they want to experience that culture of hip-hop, and Juice plays it right there, because it’s maybe the only event in Brooklyn where you can find all of the elements of hip-hop in one space.
What’s the curation process like for Juice?
It goes from just searching online, honestly. A big component from the rap side of things is [SiriusXM program] Sway in the Morning. I found out about Nick Grant [who performed at Juice in 2016] through Sway, and this year I found ANoyed and Oswin Benjamin through Sway. It just happens that way. I like to dig for new artists that speak to me and speak to our message. I’m happy about who we’ve got this year — they’re on the level where, next year, you’ll know who they are. But they’re refreshing to the ear. I want to make sure whenever we put an artist on Juice, that they’re refreshing to the ear.
What’s the biggest change for the 2018 edition of Juice?
The biggest thing with this Juice is that we went back to Littlefield. It’s way more intimate. The other years it was great at St. Ann’s Warehouse but it felt like more of a show. I wanted to remove the show stigma from it. Just come for this raw energy: It can feel like a party to you, it can feel like a concert to you, an art gallery, a vendor market. It can feel like everything that we want in hip-hop, in one space.