NYC Free Golf Program for Ages 6-16   June 29th, 2010

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For more information call (718) 760-6999 or e-mail sports@CityParksFoundation.org

New Hometown Heroes at a Hip-Hop Showcase   June 7th, 2010

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — As hip-hop rites of passage go, the annual Summer Jam, hosted by the New York radio station Hot 97, is ostensibly an event of genre-wide significance, but really it’s an opportunity for local boosterism. Summer Jam is supposed to be a reminder not just of the importance of New York hip-hop but also of New York as vital turf where outsiders come to prove themselves.

The Miamians DJ Khaled, left,and Rick Ross led the scrum when the stage teemed with performers near the end of the show. The scrum that took over the New Meadowlands Stadium stage here toward the end of this five-hour show on Sunday night was vintage Summer Jam in attitude and structure. There were easily 100 people muscling for space — some of them rappers, most hangers-on — and the performance not so artfully but thrillingly crashed together a fistful of recent hits. The ringleaders of this barely controlled explosion were the screech-voiced DJ Khaled and the casually sharp rapper Rick Ross. They are from Miami.

DJ Khaled opened the set with “All I Do Is Win,” his latest in a series of throttle-heavy, boastful anthems. (On the remix to this one he raps — usually he just cheerleads.) T-Pain, who was here too, sang the hook: “Every time I step up in the building/Everybody’s hands go up!” Cue thousands and thousands of hands shooting up into the air, holding for a couple of seconds before T-Pain delivered the kicker: “And they stay there!” The Florida contingent brought New York friends, of course: Fat Joe, who has a glorious addition to his collection of annual hits, the Soul II Soul-sampling “Slow Down”; Cam’ron and his protégé Vado; Busta Rhymes, who never met a Summer Jam he couldn’t invade.

But New York’s hometown favorites had abandoned this year’s show — the 17th annual rap revue sponsored by WQHT (97.1 FM) — as had most of the genre’s stars. There was no Jay-Z, no Kanye West, no Lil Wayne, no T. I., no Young Jeezy, which left the night deflated and up for grabs. After almost every song, most of which required even more guests, DJ Khaled stopped the proceedings and asked the crowd, “You think I’m done, huh?” He wanted to make sure the crowd knew that this visitor knew the rules of the game.

That “All I Do Is Win” was the night’s theme song was a surprise, given that New York has been cultivating its own anthems lately: small-scale progress in the face of hip-hop’s Southern onslaught. Here there were “Beamer, Benz or Bentley,” by Lloyd Banks and Juelz Santana, which has been a staple for months now, and surprisingly, “Speakin Tongues,” a recent collaboration between Cam’ron and Vado. Fabolous, who’s recently reinvigorated his career with the excellent mixtape “There Is No Competition 2 (The Funeral Service),” turned in a winning performance with a live band early in the night.

But the closest this night got to a hometown hero was the eccentric young female rapper Nicki Minaj — originally from Queens and now signed to Lil Wayne’s label, Young Money — who appeared during four sets: with Drake, Ludacris, DJ Khaled and Usher. She upstaged her host every time, but she was also just an accent piece: a taste of New York, not a main course. Early in the night there were strong sets by Drake, the young rap star who paid tribute to his mentor Lil Wayne, encouraging the crowd to scream loud enough that Wayne could hear them “all the way at Rikers Island,” where Lil Wayne is incarcerated, and the R&B roué Trey Songz, whose set was one long path to shirtlessness, with stops at an unexpected R. Kelly cover and a water-soaked interlude with an audience member.

But most perplexing were the Summer Jam-appropriate moments that didn’t happen: no collaborations between Drake and Trey Songz, who together have two huge hits (“Successful,” “I Invented Sex”); no onstage reconciliation by the feuding Diplomats members Cam’ron and Juelz Santana, who took the stage almost four hours apart. The Atlanta rap star Gucci Mane and his protégé Waka Flocka Flame were consigned to an early set, before even the thoughtful, temperate Reflection Eternal, whose appearance here felt like a charitable act, perhaps an elaborate karmic tax write-off.

This show’s headliner was Usher, the lone genuine pop star on the bill, a master of emotional reserve and elaborate, precise, Michael Jackson-inspired dance routines. His performance, with a full stage set, a half-dozen dancers, and lasers shooting out into the night sky, was both impressively overblown and hermetic: it could have been taking place anywhere. On this night it felt cold and insular: less a rebuke to what preceded it than a reminder that at Summer Jam, large stages are mostly used for small things.

Article Credit: Chad Batka for The New York Times

Big Pun: The Legacy Re-released   June 12th, 2010

bpDirector Vlad Yudin was linked with EMI Label Services to re-release last year’s Big Pun documentary The Legacy with unseen footage featuring Swizz Beatz, Jim Jones and Method Man. Dropping this September, the Pun re-release will showcase a variety of rap stars paying homage to the late emcee.

The film includes never before seen concert footage and video, as well as interviews with such Hip Hop superstars as Snoop Dogg, Jim Jones, Swizz Beats, DMX, Method Man, Raekwon, Redman, XZIBIT, Bone Thugs n Harmony, GhostFace Killah, Prodigy, B Real, Styles P., Fredro Starr, DJ Enuff, Sticky Fingaz, Chuck D, Jae Millz, Big Tigger & many more. The Special Collector’s Edition will also include a special Big Pun’s 10th Year Anniversary video segment and further unreleased material not seen on the original version.

Yudin has released a statement confirming the project’s re-release. ”I am extremely pleased to be working with EMI to re-release the Big Pun film. EMI had great success with their various Hip Hop releases over the past few years and their team is very resourceful,” said director Vlad Yudin. “We have worked very hard on this project and EMI s will help to ensure that this film will reach further heights in the mass market.”

Big Pun passed away in February 2000 from a heart attack and is renowned as the first Latino solo artist to reach platinum with his 1998 debut, Capital Punishment. The Legacy will be available September 15th, 2010.