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Honoring Hip Hop’s Past To Embrace A More Connected Future

Honoring Hip Hop’s Past To Embrace A More Connected Future

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January 30, 2020, Radio City Music Hall, Mary J. Blige & Wu Tang's Method Man perform their #1 R&B duet ″You're All I Need″ at LOUD Records 25th anniversary.

January 30, 2020, Radio City Music Hall, Mary J. Blige & Wu Tang’s Method Man perform their #1 R&B … [+] duet “You’re All I Need” at LOUD Records 25th anniversary.

Photo: Dan Petruzzi

For decades, hip-hop and rap have unified people through storytelling, a shared questioning of sociopolitical constructs, and an examination of struggle and love through poetry and beats – across age, gender, race, and region. Hip-hop is an identity, a way of life, and a billion-dollar business, but has the way people relate to the music and each other changed in 2020?
“Hip-hop is love, I’ve been doing it for 40 years – I don’t know anything else,” says Steve Rifkind, LOUD Records Founder, from a petit couch backstage at Radio City Music Hall. It was the 25th anniversary of LOUD – the label that gave visibility to iconic storytellers from every borough of New York – The Wu Tang Clan in Staten Island, Mobb Deep in Queens, Big Pun and Fat Joe in the South Bronx and dozens of other innovators from coast to coast that paved the way for hip-hop.

January 30, 2020, Radio City Music Hall. Fat Joe and Remy Ma pay tribute to the late rapper Big Pun at LOUD Records 25th Anniversary

January 30, 2020, Radio City Music Hall. Fat Joe and Remy Ma pay tribute to the late rapper Big Pun … [+] at LOUD Records 25th Anniversary

Photo: Dan Petruzzi

Transitioning into the record business wasn’t hard for Steve Rifkin who was raised on R&B, disco, and soul and came from a musical family. His father, Jules Rifkind, was behind Spring Records, the label that released music by James Brown, The Fatback band, and Millie Jackson. Learning the ropes on the marketing side of the music business at his father’s label, Steve built his brand, SRC, first as a service business quickly becoming the go-to marketing team for most major label acts in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Pivoting into the recording business, LOUD Records was founded in 1991 by Steve Rifkind and former lawyer Rich Isaacson.

“Is that dead prez going on [stage],” inquires Rifkind and he looks for clues backstage. The hip-hop duo, stic.man and M-1, formed in New York City in 1996 as pioneers in political hip hop, with messaging focused on social justice, Marxism, and Pan-Africanism. Dead prez’s wide-reaching “Hip Hop,” song kicked off LOUD Records’ 25th Anniversary as fans sang along, “you can be next in line, and signed, and still be writing rhymes and broke – you would rather have a Lexus, some justice – a dream or some substance? A Beamer, a necklace or freedom?”
The late 80’s and early 90’s saw hip-hop and rap growing – through honest street level messages, a burgeoning business around the music, and a rise in black entrepreneurialism. In 1989, N.W.A. were making national headlines for their “gangsta rap” in Los Angeles with Ice Cube, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre, and by 1993, Sean “Diddy” Combs started Bad Boy Records, quickly followed up by Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records debut in 1995. Dr. Dre and Diddy and are now millionaires, and Jay-Z, a billionaire.

Often an entry-point for qualifying potential compatibility, a shared love of hip-hop can serve as an instant connection. Inside of what some may consider a sociological site since 1933, Radio City Music Hall has served as one of the great wonders of the entertainment world, hosting performers from Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin.

January 30, 2020, Radio City Music Hall. Lil Kim performs with Mobb Deep's Havoc in tribute to the late Prodigy at LOUD Records 25th Anniversary.

January 30, 2020, Radio City Music Hall. Lil Kim performs with Mobb Deep’s Havoc in tribute to the … [+] late Prodigy at LOUD Records 25th Anniversary.

Photo: Dan Petruzzi

LOUD Records brought hip-hop royalty to the stage – dead prez, Mobb Deep’s Havoc, Xzibit, Fat Joe and Remy Ma (paying tribute to Big Pun), followed by cameos from Lil’ Kim, DMX, Busta Rhymes, and Mary J. Blige who joined Method Man to perform their 1995 #1 R&B classic, “You’re All I Need to Get By,” originally performed by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.

January 31, 2020, Radio City Music Hall.

January 30, 2020, Radio City Music Hall.

Photo: Dan Petruzzi

The cascading balconies of Radio City Music Hall brought together thousands of diverse fans – often heard reminiscing with complete strangers in adjacent seats, making fast friends. The authenticity was astounding – with real human conversations visibly surpassing digital chatter.
“>January 30, 2020, Radio City Music Hall, Mary J. Blige & Wu Tang's Method Man perform their #1 R&B duet ″You're All I Need″ at LOUD Records 25th anniversary.
January 30, 2020, Radio City Music Hall, Mary J. Blige & Wu Tang’s Method Man perform their #1 R&B … [+] duet “You’re All I Need” at LOUD Records 25th anniversary.
Photo: Dan Petruzzi
For decades, hip-hop and rap have unified people through storytelling, a shared questioning of sociopolitical constructs, and an examination of struggle and love through poetry and beats – across age, gender, race, and region. Hip-hop is an identity, a way of life, and a billion-dollar business, but has the way people relate to the music and each other changed in 2020?
“Hip-hop is love, I’ve been doing it for 40 years – I don’t know anything else,” says Steve Rifkind, LOUD Records Founder, from a petit couch backstage at Radio City Music Hall. It was the 25th anniversary of LOUD – the label that gave visibility to iconic storytellers from every borough of New York – The Wu Tang Clan in Staten Island, Mobb Deep in Queens, Big Pun and Fat Joe in the South Bronx and dozens of other innovators from coast to coast that paved the way for hip-hop.
January 30, 2020, Radio City Music Hall. Fat Joe and Remy Ma pay tribute to the late rapper Big Pun at LOUD Records 25th Anniversary
January 30, 2020, Radio City Music Hall. Fat Joe and Remy Ma pay tribute to the late rapper Big Pun … [+] at LOUD Records 25th Anniversary
Photo: Dan Petruzzi
Transitioning into the record business wasn’t hard for Steve Rifkin who was raised on R&B, disco, and soul and came from a musical family. His father, Jules Rifkind, was behind Spring Records, the label that released music by James Brown, The Fatback band, and Millie Jackson. Learning the ropes on the marketing side of the music business at his father’s label, Steve built his brand, SRC, first as a service business quickly becoming the go-to marketing team for most major label acts in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Pivoting into the recording business, LOUD Records was founded in 1991 by Steve Rifkind and former lawyer Rich Isaacson.

“Is that dead prez going on [stage],” inquires Rifkind and he looks for clues backstage. The hip-hop duo, stic.man and M-1, formed in New York City in 1996 as pioneers in political hip hop, with messaging focused on social justice, Marxism, and Pan-Africanism. Dead prez’s wide-reaching “Hip Hop,” song kicked off LOUD Records’ 25th Anniversary as fans sang along, “you can be next in line, and signed, and still be writing rhymes and broke – you would rather have a Lexus, some justice – a dream or some substance? A Beamer, a necklace or freedom?”
The late 80’s and early 90’s saw hip-hop and rap growing – through honest street level messages, a burgeoning business around the music, and a rise in black entrepreneurialism. In 1989, N.W.A. were making national headlines for their “gangsta rap” in Los Angeles with Ice Cube, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre, and by 1993, Sean “Diddy” Combs started Bad Boy Records, quickly followed up by Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records debut in 1995. Dr. Dre and Diddy and are now millionaires, and Jay-Z, a billionaire.

Often an entry-point for qualifying potential compatibility, a shared love of hip-hop can serve as an instant connection. Inside of what some may consider a sociological site since 1933, Radio City Music Hall has served as one of the great wonders of the entertainment world, hosting performers from Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin.
January 30, 2020, Radio City Music Hall. Lil Kim performs with Mobb Deep's Havoc in tribute to the late Prodigy at LOUD Records 25th Anniversary.
January 30, 2020, Radio City Music Hall. Lil Kim performs with Mobb Deep’s Havoc in tribute to the … [+] late Prodigy at LOUD Records 25th Anniversary.
Photo: Dan Petruzzi
LOUD Records brought hip-hop royalty to the stage – dead prez, Mobb Deep’s Havoc, Xzibit, Fat Joe and Remy Ma (paying tribute to Big Pun), followed by cameos from Lil’ Kim, DMX, Busta Rhymes, and Mary J. Blige who joined Method Man to perform their 1995 #1 R&B classic, “You’re All I Need to Get By,” originally performed by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
January 31, 2020, Radio City Music Hall.
January 30, 2020, Radio City Music Hall.
Photo: Dan Petruzzi
The cascading balconies of Radio City Music Hall brought together thousands of diverse fans – often heard reminiscing with complete strangers in adjacent seats, making fast friends. The authenticity was astounding – with real human conversations visibly surpassing digital chatter.
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