Tag Archives: hip-hop

Ridgewood art center provides free space for locals and intellectually disabled


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

This may start off like Williamsburg — but it ain’t.

An arts center in Ridgewood is applying for a liquor license. Okay, sounds like Williamsburg so far.

But while it wants to serve alcohol for its weekend music shows, the owners also want to make more money so that they can continue to offer free services on weekdays to the local community — especially the intellectually disabled.

“The basic logic behind this place is we’re here in the community and the community needs space so we give them space,” said Sam Hillmer, one of the owners of the venue Trans Pecos. “We believe that we can be the new model for new art spaces opening up in the community.”

Every Tuesday afternoon, The Downtown Electric band can be found practicing its music set. The group is made up of six intellectually disabled people who have been practicing in the space since Trans Pecos opened in December 2013.

“Our own facility is overcrowded and it’s not conducive to creativity,” said Taryn Harris, a worker for AHRC who supervises the group’s trip from their office in downtown Brooklyn to the venue in Ridgewood. “They’d be in a dark room. Next to a copy machine. But here it’s wonderful. It’s big and we can all make as much noise as we want to.”

On Monday, another group from the same organization that provides services for handicapped people, AHRC, uses the business to hold art programs for the intellectually disabled.

On top of providing equipment and room for the group to practice their hip-hop music, Hillmer is also putting together a large exhibition at the end of the summer that will showcase the group’s music and costumes that Christian Joy — who designs the costumes for Karen O, the lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs — is helping them design for the band’s live performance.

When AHRC isn’t using the building, several afterschool kids programs use the venue for reading programs during the week.

Harris, who is a Certified Safety Professional, explains that some days the venue gets too hot, causing them to have to cut the band’s practice short. But with the liquor license, Hillmer said there will be enough money to install an air conditioner and make the venue more tolerable for AHRC and other community groups.

The venue also houses a record label, Northern Spy, and a coffee shop is in the process of being built in the front of the building.

Hillmer and the other owner, Justin Todd Patrick, applied for a liquor license with the State Liquor Authority last week and they are also seeking the approval of Community Board 5.

Even with the intellectually disabled groups using the venue, which is equipped with expensive sound systems and a backyard for recreation, Hillmer believes that the venue is not doing enough for the community. With the help of Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s office, they are looking for other community organizations that would like to take advantage of the free space.

For Hillmer, “space is a commodity” in New York City and most art venues in New York City that set up in low rent neighborhoods don’t allow the locals to use the venue.

“If you do that without any degree of responsibility to the community then it’s shortsighted and irresponsible,” Hillmer said. “It’s a shame that so many spaces are dark during the day and it’s as simple as opening up your doors. We seek to not be in two different worlds.”

 

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Flushing resident to co-produce Asian rapper documentary


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Jaeki Cho


To Flushing resident Jaeki Cho, rap lyrics were his textbooks.

Born in Korea, Cho immigrated to Elmhurst as a child. He didn’t speak English well, but listening to hip-hop music on media outlets, such as Hot 97 and BET’s 106 & Park, helped with the language adjustment, while inspiring his love of rap.

His attraction to hip-hop ballooned as he grew older.Eventually, he started writing about rap and urban music, most recently as an editor for XXL magazine.

Like Cho, people of various ethnicities besides African-Americans are engrossed in hip-hop, even as performers. Although the genre is heavily dominated by blacks, rappers of other cultures have broken mainstream American and international hip-hop charts, but Asians have yet to have a champion in the U.S. Cho is co-producing a documentary entitled “Bad Rap,” aiming to explain why Asian rappers have not gained that attention.

“For the international spectrum, hip hop has become more global than other [genres],” Cho said. “If you go to Korea, you are going to see Korean rappers; if you go to France, you’ll see French rappers. In terms of how it is in America, there are limitations for rappers that aren’t African-American.”

The film will be directed and produced by hip-hop writer Salima Koroma, who originally reached out to Cho as a student at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. The pair talked about the field of Asian musicians, which progressed to the idea of the film.

In a year and a half, the pair has completed a 40-minute feature and teasers. They have raised more than $14,100, as of press time, on crowdfunding site indiegogo.com, and are seeking to raise $25,000 to complete a full 70-minute documentary, which they hope to premiere later this year in New York.

The film features four Asian rappers, including Queens’ own Awkwafina and Rekstizzy, on the brink of exploding in mainstream hip-hop, but for various reasons haven’t become household names. Cho said the movie will explain the complexity of being an Asian rapper through the characters, as well as their individual struggles. He believes it could get the conversation started on a large scale.

“I think this film could shed light on a lot of things,” Cho said. “If it does well commercially, I’m sure the artists in the film will get recognition from more people.”

He added, “The kids that are going to be watching this of Asian descent … they are probably going to feel, ‘This is the same kind of issue that I face.’”

 

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Man arrested in 2013 LIC murder


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of NYPD

Police have arrested a 27-year-old man for the murder of an aspiring hip-hop artist last year in Long Island City.

Francisco Leal, 27, suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the chest on Feb. 2, 2013, at the corner of 21st Street and 41st Avenue near the Queensbridge Houses.

In December, the NYPD released a photo and information of the suspect wanted in connection to the murder.

Earlier last month, Clarence Scott, who police initially identified as Lawrence Scott, was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force April 4 in Virginia, according to published reports. He was then arraigned on April 25 in Queens Criminal Court, the Queens district attorney’s office said.

Scott, who is being held without bail, was arraigned on charges of  second-degree murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, according to a criminal complaint.

 

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Kids dance classes in Queens


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

As your kids start a new school year and exercise their minds again, it’s a great time to sign them up for an extracurricular activity that will exercise their bodies, such as dance. Here’s a list of places in Queens where they can take dance classes in ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop and more.

All Star Studios
108-12 72nd Avenue, Forest Hills, 718-268-2280

Ballet, tap, jazz/contemporary, theatre, hip-hop and gymnastics/acrobatics. New students can come try a class commitment free. Private lessons also available.

Heavenly Bodies Dance & Exercise Studio
85-20 101st Street, Ozone Park, 718-843-7222

Ballet, pointe, jazz, tap and hip-hop for students 3 years old and up.

Landrum School of Dance
11-02 Clintonville Street, Whitestone, 718-767-9787

Ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, hip-hop, musical, theater, acrobatics and much more. All boys classes are 50 percent off (excluding company classes).

Louise Benes Dance Company
87 – 18 114th Street, Richmond Hill, 718 849-3099

Creative movement, ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical and hip-hop for beginners of all ages, including toddlers through to adults.

Moves & Motions Dance Academy
7402- Eliot Ave, Middle Village, 718-672-3700
70-20 88th Street, Glendale, 718-417-8500

This dance school has two locations in Queens and classes in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, contemporary, gymnastics and acrobatics, cheer dance, and nursery and pre-school dance. Private lessons available.

Nadia’s Performing Arts Centre
150-33 14th Avenue, Lower Level, Whitestone
718-746-3980

Voted best children’s dance school by the Queens Courier’s Best of the Borough 2012, it offers classes in pre-ballet, ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, musical theatre and more.

Rising Stars Dance Studio
11005 Liberty Avenue, Richmond Hill
718-641-0653

Ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, pointe, lyrical, contemporary, musical theatre, salsa and acrobatics classes for all ages.

Robert Mann Dance Centre
214-10 41st Avenue, Bayside, 718-225-3696

Classes for beginners through professional levels for both children and adults in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical/contemporary, acrobatics modern, theatre dance, stretch Zumba and ballroom. In addition, it offers four special programs for children from 1.6 to 7 years old.

Studio E School of Dance
187-16 Union Turnpike, Flushing, 718-264-0100

Classes in ballet and pointe, hip-hop and street styles, tap, contemporary/lyrical, creative and pre-ballet classes for 3 to 5-year-olds and a Music Together program that offers music and movement classes for mixed ages (birth to 4 years old).

The Astoria Dance Center
42-16 28th Avenue, Astoria, 718-278-1567

Classes offered include a Dance Together programs for ages 2 and 3 (with a parent), pre-school dance for ages 3.5 to 4.5, pre-dance for ages 4.5 to 5.5, pre-ballet, jazz and tap for ages 6 to 9 and classes in ballet, tap, jazz and modern for ages 10 through teens.

The Dance Project
150-47 Willets Point Boulevard, Whitestone, 718-353-2450

Classes in tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, modern and hip-hop. There is also a program where boys, 10 and up, can take hip-hop classes for free.

The Dance Source
98-11 Queens Boulevard, Rego Park, 718-997-1278

Classes in ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, gymnastics, ballroom, hip-hop, ballroom and international ballroom for all ages and levels. Private coaching and private classes are available by appointment.

Look cooler in any hip hop class


| editorial@queenscourier.com

BY SHAWN BYFIELD

If you are thinking about taking a plunge into the world of hip hop dance there are some things you should know. Hip hop class is a great outlet to release the everyday stress of life and learn a bit of history.  The class is a great physical activity and excellent exercise no matter where you take it.

Of course, nobody wants to stand out as “the new kid.” So here’s some proven tips to help you rank higher on the cool factor, no matter what your color, age or ability!

Look And Dress The Part

When was the last time you saw a hip hop video and the dancers were in bodysuits and tights? It’s amazing how just looking the part helps you dance and feel better. Here’s what to wear:

  • Find some baggy sweats, army pants or cargos.
  • Get a funky t-shirt or top that you feel comfortable and stylish in.
  • Find a pair of running shoes that absorb shock. No ballet or jazz shoes!
  • Accessorize with bandanas, hats, armbands and belts as long as they don’t distract and prevent you or others from dancing.
  • For the ladies, warm up with your hair up, then when it comes to dance, practice with your hair down. No celebrity ever performs with their hair in a ponytail. And lastly ladies – leave your Lulu Lemon pants at home.

Bend Yo’ Knees and Get Low

Hip hop has roots in African dance, which is very earthy and grounded. A basic rule for hip hop is, stay low to the ground. Here’s how:

  • Bend those knees of yours, and widen your stance like a football linebacker. This allows you to transfer your weight quickly as needed in class.
  • Center yourself squarely over your pelvis, and “sit” into it, almost like you’re going to ride horseback.
  • And no straight backs! It’s not ballet. Bend that spine, curve forward slightly and relax your neck.

 

Bring a Positive Mindset

Because we’re humans, as we age we tend to fear anything new. Afraid of change. Afraid of anything different. Afraid of what others will think. Afraid of how we’ll look. Afraid of making mistakes.

ALWAYS remember this: You become what you think about most of the time.

It’s true.

So tell yourself that you’re here to learn, you are proud of yourself and you’re not afraid to make mistakes. Be positive! You’re eager to learn. And remember, you didn’t learn to run overnight. First you had to learn to crawl, then you learned to walk.

The same basic process applies to hip hop dance – and any dance style for that matter.  Be confident. Be patient. Encourage yourself and in time you will succeed.

Get Professional Guidance

Lastly, get involved often! You will only improve based on the level of effort you put forth.

So if you dance once a month, you won’t get too far. But if you dance two or three times a week, now we’re moving forward. Set your schedule and PLAN to take yourself seriously. Research a professional hip hop instructor or school you’re interested in, sign up and commit to a class, and prepare to have a blast!

Shawn Byfield (www.ShawnByfield.com) is an award winning choreographer, show director and a leading expert in dance lessons and industry advice. 

‘BEASTIE BOYS’ MCA Dead at 47


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Beastie Boys” rapper MCA – real name Adam Yauch – has died.

In 2009, MCA announced he was being treated for a cancerous parotid gland and a lymph node (below). He has since undergone surgery and radiation therapy.

So far, it’s not clear if the death is related to the rapper’s battle with cancer.

Russell Simmons‘ website GlobalGrind.com first reported the death. We have spoken to people independently connected to the rapper who also say he is dead.

MCA co-founded Beastie Boys in 1979 with Mike D, and Ad Rock. The group has won multiple Grammys and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.

MCA became a vegan at the recommendation of his Tibetan doctors.

Yauch is survived by his wife and daughter. He was 47. Read More: TMZ

Elmont substitute teacher accused of having sex with 15-year-old girl


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Elmont substitute teacher accused of having sex with 15-year-old girl

A substitute school teacher is facing charges she had an illegal sexual relationship with a 15-year-old female student at a Long Island high school. Kaitlin Grant of Elmont was arrested Friday. The 23-year-old woman is charged with criminal sexual act and endangering the welfare of a child. She is scheduled to be arraigned later Friday. The name of her attorney was not known. Read More: New York Post

‘Madam’s’ bodyguard once worked as an NYPD detective

A former NYPD cop who spent a decade working with the Manhattan DA’s office also acted as a bodyguard for the alleged high-end Upper East Side brothel boss now being prosecuted by that same district attorney’s office, sources told The Post today. Ex-cop Selwyn “Sly” Francis appeared in a photograph published today in The Post grinning broadly as accused madam Anna Gristina sat cozily on his lap with her arm slung over his broad shoulder. Read More: New York Post

Notorious B.I.G. remembered: Rapper’s music still lives on 15 years after his death

Can it really be 15 years since the brutal murder of Brooklyn’s own Christopher Wallace (aka The Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls)? March 9 marks the sad day when one of the most narratively attuned rappers of all time lost his life at age 24. It only makes it worse that his slaying remains unsolved. Of course, his voluminous stories live on. Read More: Daily News

 

NYPD Reportedly Monitored Muslim New Yorkers Based On Their Religion

New reported information shows that the New York City Police Department has been monitoring people based specifically on their religion. According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, the NYPD kept secret files on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans, specifically because they were Muslims. The AP says the department’s secretive Demographics Unit was assigned to investigate the area’s Syrian population in 2007 – but excluded Syrian Jews and Christians from monitoring. Read More: NY1

 

Bloomberg defends Jets QB Sanchez, rejects plea for Peyton

Mayor Bloomberg is playing defense for Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. The mayor today rejected a plea from a caller to his radio show to help the Jets recruit free agent quarterback Peyton Manning to Gang Green. “We have a Manning playing for the Giants,” the mayor said, referring to Peyton’s brother, Eli. Read More: New York Post

Mom charged with daughter’s death blasts plans to allow son, 6, to testify

A monster mom charged with murdering her 4-year-old daughter railed Friday against prosecutors’ plans to have her young son serve as a star witness when the trial opens next month. Carlotta Brett-Pierce blew up in court as a Brooklyn judge considered whether the 6-year-old boy, Tymel, will have to testify via closed-circuit – or face his mother in person for the first time since the Sept. 2010 death of his sister, Marchella Brett-Pierce. Read More: New York Post

Luxe penthouse up in smoke


| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

Luxe penthouse up in smoke

A raging fire destroyed a luxurious, multimillion-dollar penthouse on the Upper East Side last night, authorities said. The blaze started at 7:50 p.m. at 2 East End Ave., quickly engulfing the three-floor penthouse in flames. It took firefighters more than an hour to get the inferno under control, the FDNY said. The triplex penthouse was taken off the market about six months ago after being listed for $14.95 million. The 6,700 square-foot condo has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a grand staircase. Read More: New York Post

 

Manning capable of Giant step

Eli Manning delivered a Super Bowl championship four years ago when no one thought he could, and today it is time for him to put his stamp on a special delivery postmarked New York, N.Y. Manning and the Giants were Road Warriors who rode that Big, Blue magic carpet from Tampa to Dallas to Green Bay to Glendale, Ariz., and Super Bowl XLII, and all the while old Giants Stadium sat dark and silent. It is time for Manning to show New York, show Giants fans inside MetLife Stadium, how an elite quarterback gets things done in the playoffs. Read More: New York Post

 

Beyonce gave birth last night: reports

Beyoncé has reportedly become Bey-MOM-cé. The superstar singer gave birth to a baby girl last night, according to her hometown paper the Houston Chronicle. The tot was delivered by c-section and hubby Jay-Z is telling pals her name is Ivy Blue Carter, E! Online reported. Both mom and daughter were doing fine. The Upper East Side medical center had been prepping a luxurious suite for her — and had just finished a major renovation of a dozen rooms and a nursing station for the pop queen and Jay-Z’s arrival, sources said. Read More: New York Post

 

Pizza race-slur outrage

When Harlem resident Minhee Cho, 24, ordered a small pizza from a Papa John’s restaurant, she was shocked to find that a staffer ID’d her as “lady chinky eyes” on her receipt. “I don’t think a giant corporation should write those things on a receipt,” Cho told The Post last night. “That’s poor management. It was surprising to see that on paper; if they had said it in person, it would have been worse.” Cho posted the receipt with the racial slur on her Twitter account yesterday, where it was viewed more than 100,000 times in less than four hours. Read More: New York Post

 

New York City school employee faked her child’s death to get extra vacation

A city school employee scammed a week off for a Costa Rica vacation by staging the mother of all hoaxes — convincing her bosses she couldn’t work because her daughter had died. Joan Barnett, a parent coordinator at the Manhattan High School of Hospitality Management, was so determined to make the spring break jaunt that she: Had one of her daughters call the school to say that her sister had suffered a heart attack in Costa Rica. Had another daughter call the school later that day to say that the sister had died and that about a dozen relatives, including Barnett, were traveling to the country for a funeral. Faxed a forged death certificate of her daughter “Xinia Daley Herman” to school as proof of the death. The document is required if a city school employee asks for bereavement days. Thanks to the scam, Barnett, 58, was able to spend 21/2 weeks in March 2010 — including her school-sanctioned spring break — in the tropical paradise, city investigators said. But the fun in the sun didn’t last long. Read More: Daily News

 

From St. John’s to stardom; J.Cole debut album is number one


| choahing@queenscourier.com

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Jay-Z signed him to his record label. He’s performed at Yankee Stadium. He was nominated for a BET Hip Hop Award. And his first album just debuted at number one.

Who is this hot new rap artist? It’s St. John’s University graduate J. Cole.

Jermaine Cole, 26, was born in Frankfurt, Germany, where his parents were stationed in the military, but he grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina. When he was 12-years-old, Cole decided he wanted to be a professional rapper – like his idols Canibus, Eminem and Nas – and began writing his own lyrics. After graduating from high school in 2003, Cole headed to the Big Apple determined to achieve his goals of breaking into the music business and earning his college degree.

“On top of being a real fun major, it made me conscious of public relations, your brand and how you’re represented to the public,” Cole explained about what he learned at St. John’s. “When I have interviews or when I’m in the public light, I’m handling myself differently than another rapper might.”

After graduation, Cole worked part-time doing classified ad sales for The Queens Courier.

“It was the only job I could find that was real flexible with the hours so I could go to the [recording] studio and be up real late and then go in to work at, like, 1,” Cole recalled.

The majority of his time, however, was spent working on songs and trying to make connections with the right music biz insiders. He would look online for the names of A&R reps, producers, managers and other notable people and then cold call them.

“It took years and years of trying,” said Cole. “I was rapping on people’s voicemails. If I knew somebody was in the game, I would send a message…. It never worked, but these were the things I was trying.”

So, just how did Cole become the first hip-artist to land a deal with Jay-Z’s label Roc Nation?

“It was a very long story, but the condensed version is: I finally broke through when I met Mark Pitts, a real heavyweight in the game, who managed Biggie back in the day and signed Chris Brown and Ciara. He heard my music and loved it, and ended up playing a song called ‘Lights Please’ for Jay-Z. From there, the rest is history. Jay wanted to sign me after he met me.”

The contract was inked in February 2009.

Although he’s released several mix tapes, Cole World: The Sideline Story is the rapper’s debut full-length CD.

“Musically, it’s incredible,” Cole said. “I can’t wait for people to hear it! It’s real heavy and real emotional – family issues, life struggles, death, jail. I love that, but there’s a balance. It’s not an album where you have to be in a certain type of mood to listen to it.”

“Last year, I was on a tour with Jay-Z and shared a little bus with Wale,” said Cole. “This is the first time it’s actually my tour.”

But it was back in last September that Cole played the largest venue – so far – of his career: Yankees Stadium.

“It was crazy to be on that stage, but even better than being on that stage was just watching that,” he said about the historic two-night concert event headlined by Jay-Z and Eminem in which he served as one of the opening acts. “That was incredible. Rock artists sell out stadiums every night, but it takes two of the biggest hip-hop artists to fill up a stadium. It’s inspirational! When I really put it in perspective, it gave me a new goal. My new goal is to be the first rapper selling out stadiums on a regular basis. Even saying that lets me know how far I got to go. But how incredible would that be?”