FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Zsa-­‐Zsa Rensch [email protected] 510-­‐516-­‐2012 Press: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Presents Clas/sick Hip-­‐Hop: 1993 Edition November 7-­‐8, 2014, 8:00 p.m. $25-­‐$30 in Advance / $30-­‐$35 at the Door Senior, Teacher, Student: $20-­‐$25 in Advance / $25-­‐$30 at the Door YBCA Member: $20, YBCA:You FREE 1 YBCA Forum 701 Mission Street, San Francisco, Calif. 94103 415.978.2787; San Francisco, CA – (October 10, 2014) – Following on the heels of 2012’s successful debut in the Clas/sick Hip-­‐Hop series—which juxtaposed turf dancing with classical music—the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts announces “Clas/sick Hip-­‐Hop: 1993 Edition,” which ups the intersectionality as well as the ante. Curated by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, YBCA’s Chief of Programs and Pedagogy, “Clas/sick” revisits the “Golden Age” year of 1993, a seminal period in the development and evolution of the hip-­‐hop genre, and a year which saw groundbreaking releases from artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Digable Planets, Wu-­‐Tang Clan, Snoop Dogg, Souls of Mischief, Freestyle Fellowship, Black Moon, Guru’s Jazzmatazz, KRS-­‐One, Del the Funky Homosapien, 2Pac, The Coup, and many others. 1993 is also notable in that it was the year YBCA opened its doors and began its mission as a Left Coast-­‐centered outpost for contemporary arts. Part of YBCA’s restored commitment to local artists, “Clas/sick” is a multi-­‐disciplinary affair, which features live band performances conducted by two musical directors – JooWan Kim and Kev Choice, directing Ensemble Mik Nawooj and the Kev Choice Ensemble respectively –; 25 guest emcees; a cappella chorus Young Gifted & Black; dancers from the 50 Cent Tabernacle; video design by David Szlasa; a dance party of Golden Age hip-­‐hop gems with DJs Kevvy Kev, Sake One, Dion Decibels, Davey D and Fuze; 93-­‐second video testimonials by local culturati; and ancillary film series and dance classes. For Joseph, 1993 was an eye-­‐opening year which introduced him to new models of fusionistic interplay between hip-­‐hop and jazz and spoken word and rap, as well as tri-­‐coastal urban expressionism which expanded upon the East Coast-­‐centric foundation of hip-­‐hop culture. His goal with this production was to build on the aesthetic possibilities suggested by the initial offering in the series, examining further the cultural forms embedded within the hip-­‐hop dynamic, while addressing the canonization of those forms two decades later from the perspective of one who actually witnessed and participated in the evolutionary movement while it was happening. “The first ‘Clas/sick Hip-­‐Hop’ that we did challenged post hip-­‐hop movement practitioners to perform their work to classical music,” Joseph explains. “To take the vocabulary and orient it within a more traditional set of musical signatures, so that, we could see the work both in its context and out of its musical element, but position the body [of work] in a different kind of way.” With the second installment in the series, he adds, “we’re thinking about how this cultural form which emerges out of its creation myth, in the late ‘60s and very early ‘70s, has engaged, both unwittingly and consciously with this idea of contemporary art. Again, by rephrasing or repositioning in this case the music within a classical context, in the same way we can look at visual art and chart the sculptural and sort of aesthetic evolution, of visual art, we can do the same thing with all music.” Joseph commissioned Kim to write six pieces for classical orchestra from the hip-­‐hop canon; the EMN composer chose three Wu-­‐Tang songs from their 36 Chambers album, as well as three songs from Snoop 2 Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle. “In discussing art or music, any era is defined by personalities creating significant works. And there are so many seminal albums that came out during those years,” Kim says. He approached the task of culling from hip-­‐hop’s Golden Age canon by imagining how Snoop’s G-­‐Funk classics and Wu-­‐Tang’s magnum opus could be transposed for future generations: “The next step for hip-­‐hop or any music, for that matter, lies in breaking the convention of how it has been done. Personally, I believe the answer lies in hybridization and continuous innovation that challenges the norm.” Specifically, Kim addressed and reassessed the music on a structural level, “by extracting essential musical thoughts from them and building different structures using various compositional techniques. Imagine a biologist extracting particular strands of DNA and manipulate them in different ways to create a new organism.” Choice, meanwhile, decided to make Tribe’s Midnight Marauders and the emergence of West Coast hip-­‐
hop artists (including Del, 2Pac, the Pharcyde, and E-­‐40) the focus of his compositional efforts. Special guest performers include such local talents as Erk tha Jerk, Felonious, Aima the Dreamer, Zumbi Zoom, HNRL Roll, Zakiya Harris, Ryan Nicole, and more. “You have to be careful” when attempting to canonize hip-­‐hop, he says. “Just like in jazz, if it doesn't ‘swing,’ then jazz artist and players are going to frown on it and say it’s not authentic, or just like blues, if it doesn't have the feel, it doesn't translate. The same goes for hip-­‐hop. When you interpret it, you have to keep the essence, the rawness and the feel.” In interpreting classic hip-­‐hop, Choice adds, his goal was “to accentuate the already musical elements in the music, keep it true to the essence of the original composition but yet add a little of my own unique flavor. Having an ensemble with rhythm section, horns, and strings adapting music that was either heavily-­‐sampled or made on keyboard gives a lot of possibilities. I didn't want to over-­‐complicate the music. I did want to reference a lot of the original samples that were used in the creation of some of the music, especially with Midnight Marauders, since a lot of classic songs and albums were sampled on it. As with all my shows, I want the show to tell a story and I like to make the songs connect like movements of a symphony.” Above all, he says, “Using transitions and clever segues to make it all flow is crucial.” Moreover, “Clas/sick” upholds the mission of YBCA as a contemporary art space in which the recent past exists as a launching pad for the near future, and where parallels between seemingly oppositional genres not only exist, but challenge the listener and viewer to reexamine their own perceptions of what culture is, and how it can be creatively expressed. As Joseph concludes, “That’s the thing, is to see this work and to see the expansiveness of the work, and how it fits both inside of a place like this, and inside of a broad continuum of music, but also by positioning [it] here, give it a kind of post-­‐historical frame or new historical frame that music hasn’t been afforded in the past.” About Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), located in San Francisco's Yerba Buena cultural district, is one of the nation's leading multidisciplinary contemporary arts centers. With a belief that contemporary art is 3 at the heart of community life, YBCA brings audiences and artists of all backgrounds together to express and experience creativity. The organization is known for nurturing emerging artists at the forefront of their fields and presenting works that blend art forms and explore the events and ideas of our time. As part of its commitment to the San Francisco Bay Area, YBCA supports the local arts community and reflects the region's diversity of people and thought through its arts and public programming. YBCA presents programming year-­‐round in the Forum, Screening Room, Galleries and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater. For tickets and information, call 415.978.ARTS (2787). FUNDING Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support. YBCA Performance 14-­‐15 is made possible in part by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Additional Funding for YBCA Performance 14-­‐15 Zellerbach Family Foundation, Panta Rhea Foundation, Surdna Foundation, and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Media Sponsor: SF Weekly 4