Brooklyn’s Public Assembly played host to the first Red Bull Music Academy lecture and info session of 2012 – kicking off the application process in advance of the Academy’s much anticipated arrival in Gotham this fall.
With veteran RBMA lecture host Jeff “Chairman” Mao playing master of ceremonies, a standing room only crowd was treated to a sneak preview of the Academy m.o. Former participants Jesse Boykins III and Nick Hook got things started with giddy recollections of their experiences at RBMA Madrid 2011, likening the sleep deprived 2-week term of lectures, studio sessions, gigs and performances to an out of body experience they still can’t quite believe really happened. “Just apply!” the pair urged anyone and everyone in earshot as they stepped to the rear, making way for the night’s featured lecturers.
Longtime partners at Duck Down Music, Buckshot and Dru Ha entered the stage armed with a plethora of insights of their time running one of the longest running institutions of NYC indie hip-hop. What began as a simple barter deal between two idealistic kids (aspiring rapper/Nervous Records intern Dru agreed to teach Buck how to drive in exchange for rhyming pointers) would become the axis of a management team, record label, and marketing company that’s managed to thrive through the 90s, survive cataclysmic business setbacks, and reinvent itself for an all-new generation of hip-hop heads.
Endlessly entertaining, naturally, were the pair’s stories – particularly those involving crashing at 2Pac’s Hollywood home, a security team/family member named “Thor,” and questions of etiquette involving the last cans of Sunkist orange soda in the Shakur household fridge.
By the time everyone adjourned to PA’s performance room to hear Evil Dee on the mix (c’mon kick it!), there was no dodging the heavy Crooklyn vibe. Duck Down artist Skyzoo commenced the show with his deft wordplay – accompanied by both a DJ and horn player. Bootcamp Clik mainstays Smif-N-Wessun hit the stage sounding spry like it was ’95, running through classics like “Bucktown,” “Let’s Git It On” and “Stand Strong” to the vocal approval of an enthusiastic audience.
Even the Duck Down mascot made an appearance. If this was any early indication, RBMA 2012 should be feeling quite at home in the Big Apple come September.