Remembering The Lyricist Lounge Show

This was a great weekend for outdoor hip-hop in Brooklyn.

Saturday was the 6th annual Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, which went down in DUMBO and had a very solid turnout, especially considering the scattered rain throughout the day. On Sunday, there was more live music, with Talib Kweli and The Roots headlining in Prospect Park for Celebrate Brooklyn. The show was free and the turnout was crazy. Thousands came together for the 32nd annual event to party and show BK pride.

As me and my crew headed out, a friend and I started talking about how incredible the whole atmosphere at the event was and how dope New York, and specifically Brooklyn, is in the summer. We then moved on to a discussion about our favorite BK MCs, and who was holding it down these days. We didn’t come up with all that many names, but somehow we started talking about Mirror Music. Wordsworth’s 2004 LP was a favorite for each of us, although neither one of us had bumped it in a while (I listened on my way home…still a dope album!). We agreed that Words was one of the illest lyricists, with his combination of wordplay, content, melody, and creativity.

That last point made me think of the video where he debates George W. Bush as if he were a presidential candidate. My man then brought up Lyricist Lounge, which somehow, inexplicably, had slipped my mind to that point in our discussion of Words. It had been years since it was on TV, and I hadn’t thought of, listened to, or watched anything Lyricist Lounge related in years.

But then we started reminiscing a bit. Remembering when we were younger and watched The Lyricist Lounge Show on MTV. Thinking back on how inventive the storytelling was. Thinking how awesome it was that artists like Wordsworth, Master Fuol, Baby Power and others were given that kind of exposure.

What may have been the best thing about it, though, was that it felt it like it was such a good look for hip-hop. As a music and culture that’s always taken heat for lyrics, images—you name it, if it’s negative—this showed what we love at its finest. It gave people in the mainstream, or people who watched MTV for Real World (what am I saying? I got a few of them from the new season on DVR, sorry) a chance to see how incredible hip-hop music can be.

Once I got home last night, I decided to watch some clips from the show, as well as the Words/Bush debate. I enjoyed, and then got to thinking. This was probably my favorite hip-hop-related TV show that I ever watched. That’s a lofty claim, I know. But it was funny, witty, smart, and one-of-a-kind. The cancellation of the show was a huge L. And not the good kind.

Now, I’m not exactly sure how I define that term, “hip-hop-related show.” Is it just a show that has hip-hop music in it? I don’t think so, cause if that were the case, then Entourage would be on that list (shouts to Skyzoo for “Popularity” in last night’s episode, by the way). I’m too young to remember Yo! MTV Raps. I don’t really like video shows that much, and even back in the day when I did, I still think I preferred watching Lyricist Lounge to 106 & Park. I’m not sure if The Boondocks counts, but I think it does. And it’s definitely fighting for the top spot of my favorites. Hip Hop Harry is supposedly a favorite among the kids these days, but I gotta admit I’ve never seen it.

Of course, there are tons that I’m leaving out, some because I’m forgetting and some because I have to go do some transcribing. Even so, I’m riding with my choice: The Lyricist Lounge Show was my favorite hip-hop show ever.

What was yours? —Adam Fleischer

Lyricist Lounge Theme and More

The Bank Heist

Wordsworth v. Bush