A Beatboxing Family Day at the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival

Moms, dads, grandparents, and godparents: Are you looking for a special occasion to dedicate to some one-on-one bonding time with your kid? Check out our series of hip happenings that will give the two of you secrets to share and a ritual to return to year after year.

While kids today may think of hip hop as a bunch of wannabe gangsters yelling obscenities at each other, those of us who lived through the early days of hip-hop know its roots as a poetic form of protest and a cry for social change.

Introduce your kids to the power of artistic self-expression and the roots of protest music at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, a unique cultural event that showcases some historical and contemporary artists that have helped transform hip-hop from the musical expression of those on the margins into a mainstream phenomenon that’s popular all around the world.

Roots at the Ready

The DIY, homegrown nature of hip-hop sets this festival in Williamsburg apart from other music festivals (especially in Brooklyn’s epicenter of gentrification). Keeping the economic barrier-to-entry low is a high priority for festival organizers, and one you’ll appreciate when you book tickets. Kids 12 and under are free, and adults can get event passes for as little as $10 (the entire week will cost you a cool $100).

Nonetheless, you should book your tickets in advance of the July dates and, if you don’t, plan to show up early to the venue for the Big Show to be sure you’ll gain entrance (past years have seen crowds of 20,000!). The festival strongly recommends taking public transportation, since there is no event-sponsored parking in the area. If you’re visiting the city, check out area hotels and AirBnbs within walking distance.

Does your beatboxing, breakdancing teen want to participate as one of the festival’s youth DJs? Do you have a kid in a band who wants to win a festival appearance by competing in the “Show and Prove” artist contests leading up to the fest? Get kids involved and follow the festival’s Facebook and Twitter pages for chances to learn how.


All of the Elements

The festival focuses on up-and-coming artists, with some mentorship and participation from hip-hop’s founding fathers, many of whom make appearances on the festival’s Big Show or around the borough with panel discussions, roundtables, and film screenings. These events create an impetus for community organizing, peaceful protest, and social change movements.

Check out the events line-up which includes the Hip-Hop Institute annual day-long conference that brings an academic face and some feasible solutions to current social issues. The Dummy Clap Film Festival screens important, current documentaries and features films that deal with people of color during festival week.

These events will help teach your kid the social messages and activist roots of this popular music. Encourage some poetry, songwriting, or community involvement after attending. Or, maybe it’s just a way to bring up discussions about people of different colors and backgrounds and how to get along with neighbors, friends, and enemies.

Looking for a Brooklyn-based eatery for a little nosh while you wind down and listen to a few more songs? Check out the Beats & Eats guide to culinary spots that will fill you with soul food and feed your ears with hard-hitting tunes.

Finally, the Big Show is the festival’s final day, when hip-hop legends like make their appearances! Winners of the Show and Prove contest, as well as other up-and-coming artists, fill out the robust lineup and make for a great day of music and fun. For older kids, this will be the payoff to the “week of learning” that they’ve just endured; bring a younger child to Family Day instead.

Introducing… Family Day

Yep, just in case you were worried about foul language, adult themes, or less-than-wholesome activities at the festival, there’s a day specifically designed for you. Bring your little tyke to Family Day on the last day of the festival’s week-long run to experience hip-hop that’s friendly for all ages.

Kids can learn about the hip-hop art of street graffiti, listen to teenage MCs and DJs, bust out with new dance moves and take a scratch class, all in the day of the festival! Sports teams and athletic events for kids are also part of the festivities. Stop by the food tents for tasty chicken wings and juice (Brooklyn Brewery is on tap with adult beverages, too).

Oh, and don’t forget your spray paint mask.

B-Boys and Girls Unite!

Whether you’re a part of the margins or the mainstream, show your kids the unity and love of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival to introduce them to new ideas and help them learn how to communicate protest, anger, and frustration in positive and poetic ways. Who knows? You might even have some angsty teen poetry you’d like to reveal to the tots…

Ever been to the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival? What are some special events your city hosts every year? Share with us!

Tags : hip happenings   music festivals   brooklyn   

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