Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, in association with SAL ABBATIELLO of Fever Records, celebrates the 50th anniversary of HIP HOP on Saturday, May 6, 2023 at 8 P.M. In the early 1970’s, the hip-hop musical genre was born in the neighborhoods of the South Bronx.
The HIP HOP FEVER 2023 concert will feature performances by Grandmaster Melle & Scorpio “The Message”, KRS-One “Step Into A World”, Kurtis Blow “The Breaks”, Sugar Hill Gang “Rappers Delight”, Nice N Smooth “Hip Hop Junkies”, Soul Sonic Force “Planet Rock”, Cl Smooth “They Reminisce Over You”, Black Sheep “The Choice Is Yours”, Keith Murray “Most Beautifullest Thing In This World”, and Sweet G “Games People Play”. Hosted by Video Music Box own RALPH MCDANIELS and Fever Records own SAL ABBATIELLO. Music by GRAND WIZARD THEODORE, DJ HOLLYWOOD, and DJ BRUCIE LEE.
SAL ABBATIELLO, one of the pioneers of Hip Hop, discovered many rappers and DJs such as Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow and Run-D.M.C. at the legendary nightclub Disco Fever. Abbatiello’s Bronx Latin dance club, The Devil’s Nest, is where Latin Hip Hop was born and is now called Freestyle. There he discovered Little Louie Vega, TKA, The Cover Girls, Lisette Melendez and many more.
GRANDMASTER MELLE MEL & SCORPIO are two of the original members of the iconic hip-hop group Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. Composed of one DJ (Grandmaster Flash) and five rappers (Melle Mel, The Kidd Creole, Keef Cowboy, Mr. Ness/Scorpio, and Rahiem), the group’s use of turntables, break-beat deejaying, and conscious lyricism was significant in the early development of hip-hop music. Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five’s classics include “Superrappin’” (1979), “Freedom”, “Birthday Party” (both 1980), and “The Message” which went Platinum in under a month and became the first Hip Hop record inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2007, they became the first Rap/Hip Hop group inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
KRS-ONE, also known as “Knowledge Reigning Supreme,” is a Hip Hop legend who burst onto the rap scene in 1986 with his hit single “South Bronx”. He is known for his unparalleled skills as a live performer, earning him the title of “the greatest live emcee ever” by The Source. KRS-One has released 20 albums throughout his career, and is believed to have written the most rhymes in Hip Hop history. He has been called the “Spokesperson for Hip Hop” by the Wall Street Journal and the “Son of Hip Hop” by Kool DJ Herc
KURTIS BLOW grew up in Harlem, NYC, rapping by the time he was twenty, and became the first rapper to be signed by a major record label – Mercury Records, releasing “Christmas Rappin’” in 1979. He followed up with “The Breaks” which quickly sold over half a million copies and other hits like “Party Time,” “Basketball” and “If I Ruled the World.” Over the next eleven years he released ten albums before moving into producing, working with such acts like The Fat Boys, Run-D.M.C., Lovebug Starski, Full Force and Wyclef Jean. In 1994, Kurtis Blow became the guest MC for The Hip Hop Nutcracker, an urban dance retelling of Tchaikovsky’s classic, which tours the country annually. And in 2016, Blow became the Chairman of the Board of the virtual Universal Hip Hop Museum.
THE SUGARHILL GANG inaugurated the history of recorded Hip Hop with the single “Rapper’s Delight,” a Multi-Platinum-seller and radio hit recorded in 1979 by NY rappers Master Gee, Wonder Mike and Big Bank Hank, which sold more than eight million copies. In 1981, the group performed the hit title track of their second album, 8th Wonder, along with their hit single “Apache,” on the TV show Soul Train. In 2014 “Rapper’s Delight” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and the following year Rolling Stone Magazine listed it as the #2 Greatest Rap Song of All Time.
NICE ‘N SMOOTH is a Bronx; New York hip-hop duo known for their humorous rhymes and catchy hooks. Comprised of “Greg Nice” Mays and Darryl “Smooth B” Barnes, plus DJ Teddy Tedd, they had their first big break as guests on Big Daddy Kane’s 1989 single “Pimpin Ain’t Easy”. That same year they released their debut self-titled album, which contained the singles “Early to Rise” and “Funky for You”. Nice ‘N Smooth achieved radio fame with the song “Sometimes I Rhyme Slow” from their 1991 album Ain’t a Damn Thing Changed, which also contained the popular MTV single “Hip-Hop Junkies”.
SOUL SONIC FORCE was formed in 1982 in the Bronx by the popular DJ Afrika Bambaataa (Kevin Donovan) with DJ Jazzy Jay (John Byas) and rappers Mr. Biggs (Ellis Williams), Pow Wow (Robert Darrell Allen), The G.L.O.B.E. (John Miller) and Cosmic Force. Raised in the gang culture of the South Bronx, Bambaataa began hosting Hip Hop parties in 1977 as a way to draw angry kids out of the gangs. Credited as one of the originators of “Breakbeat DJ-ing”, he started experimenting with rap music mixed with Euro-electronica. Borrowing an electronic keyboard hook from the German band Kraftwerk, Soul Sonic Force’s first single “Planet Rock” went gold. This groundbreaking hit, along with their subsequent 1983 releases “Looking For the Perfect Beat” and “Renegades of Funk,” helped establish a new genre of music called “electro-boogie” that fused rap and dance music, acting as an influence to the development of electro funk and today’s techno music.
CL SMOOTH is best known as the vocal half of the hip-hop duo Pete Rock & CL Smooth. After the pair split in 1995, CL Smooth released his debut solo album, American Me, in 2006 and his second solo album, The Outsider, the following year. He has contributed guest vocals to songs by AZ, Nujabes, and J.R. Writer, and headlined the Clean Energy Tour with Pete Rock in 2010. CL Smooth’s collaboration with Pete Rock has garnered acclaim and made Pete Rock one of the most acclaimed producers in hip-hop.
BLACK SHEEP is a hip hop duo known for their witty lyrics and unique rhythms composed of Andres “Dres” Vargas and William “Mista Lawnge” McLean, both native New Yorkers from Queens, who met as teenagers in North Carolina before both of their families moved back to New York. They debuted in 1991 with the hit song “Flavor of the Month” from their album A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, which went gold and reached #15 on the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop album chart. A second single from that album, “The Choice Is Yours”, rose to the #1 spot on the Hot Rap Singles chart and was honored by VH1 in 2008 as #73 of the 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs.
KEITH MURRAY, the Long Island native, gained fame in the 1990s with his debut album, The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World, which went gold. Murray’s collaboration with Erick Sermon on the song “Hostile” and his high-profile guest appearances on remixes for artists like LL Cool J and Mary J. Blige further cemented his status as a rising star in Hip Hop. Murray continued to release successful albums, including Enigma, It’s a Beautiful Thing, and He’s Keith Murray. He also has collaborated with iconic acts like Def Squad and Redman.
SWEET G is a New York rapper who is known for his single “Games People Play”, released on Fever Records in 1983. The hit song peaked at #60 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Music\Club Play Singles chart and was played at every radio station in New York.
Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. is supported, in part, by public funds through the SVOG Grant.
In addition, Lehman Center received funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council and the Bronx Delegation. Special thanks to Senator Charles Schumer and Representative Nydia Velázquez for their support of arts and culture by implementing the SVOG grant.
We would also like to thank Assemblyman Jose Rivera for his generous grant from The New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Department. Additional funding is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts with support of the office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. Goya Foods, Con Edison, Havana Café, and Friends of Lehman Center also make the 2022-2023 seasons possible through the sponsorships.
Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is on the campus of Lehman College/CUNY at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, NY 10468. Tickets for HIP HOP FEVER on Saturday, May 6, 2023 at 8pm ($40, $45, $60, $65, $70) can be purchased by calling the Lehman Center box office at 718-960-8833; Para Español: 718-960-8835 (Monday through Friday, 10am–5pm, and beginning 4 hours prior to ShowTime on weekends), or through online access at https://www.lehmancenter.org/events/hip-hop-fever.
Lehman Center is accessible by #4 or D train to Bedford Park Blvd. and is off the Saw Mill River Parkway and the Major Deegan Expressway.
Doors open at 7:00pm, and Show Time starts at 8:00 P.M. sharp.