Hennessy Artistry kicked off last night (September 22) in Brooklyn, New York as Asher Roth took the stage to headline the first of a string of events in the series.

Held at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, the unique venue allowed for those in attendance at the free event to enjoy drinks, bowling and live music. Asher hit the stage shortly after 10 p.m., and gave the fans joints from when he first broke onto the scene up to his latest material.  From his 2008 mixtape The GreenHouse Effect, the former XXL Freshman did the thumping “Cannon,” before moving to records from his debut, last year’s Asleep in the Bread Isle, including “Be By Myself” and “Blunt Cruising.”

As he began to bring the evening to a close, the Pennsylvania native performed his most recent single, “G.R.I.N.D. (Get Ready It’s A New Day)” [watch below] as well as an a new capella [watch below]. Expounding on the social awareness evident in each of those songs, Asher told the crowd that hip-hop can be used as a force for positivity and change. “We can change the world,” he stated. “I firmly, firmly believe that. And it’s our generation that’s gonna do it. If we don’t do it, nobody else is going to.” The 25-year-old then rounded out his set with the fan favorite anthem, “I Love College.”

Before Roth took to the stage, opening acts Mulaca and Gilbere Forte warmed up the crowd. Each, like the headliner, were backed by live bands. During her set, Mulaca included choreographed moves, aided by two back-up dancers, while Forte, a Philadelphia-native, grabbed the crowd with his rising single, “Black Chukkas.”

The event, hosted by Hot 97 personalities Angie Martinez and Peter Rosenberg, was free to the public.

Q-Tip and The Roots served as co-curators for the five-city Hennessy Artistry tour. —Adam Fleischer