Keep Tulsa hype
Golden era legends to share stage with local artists for Hip Hop 918
Local Hip Hop 918 performers—from left: Written Quincy, Doc Freeman, Steph Simon, Tea Rush, St. Domonick, Verse, and DJ Somar
On April 7, three legends from the Golden Era of hip-hop—Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, and Doug E. Fresh—will perform a free show on the Guthrie Green stage. Grammy Award-winner Big Daddy Kane is widely considered one of the greatest lyricists of all time and thought to be pivotal in shaping Jay-Z’s career. Rapper, DJ, actor, and beatboxer Biz Markie, sometimes referred to as the “Clown Prince of Hip-Hop,” is most known for his 1989 hit single “Just a Friend,” which to this day can make an entire room break out in song. The event, Hip Hop 918, which aspires to be reminiscent of a South Bronx street party, will be hosted by Doug E. Fresh, the human beatbox known for keeping the crowd hype.
Organizers wanted to to open the show with local artists capable of embodying old-school hip-hop. They enlisted rapper Steph Simon to help put it together.
“[DJ] Somar popped in my head, of course Doc [Freeman] popped in my head,” Simon said. “She said we need a female, I said Tea Rush, then I told them we have a young up-and-comer—St. Domonick—we need to add to bridge the gap between the young generation and the old.”
Simon was told they’d be given a 45-minute set, and the organizers requested there not be any lag time between acts. In the realm of hip-hop, this necessitates a hype man: someone to talk on the mic and keep the crowd entertained as DJ Somar spins the classics. Simon couldn’t think of anyone better for the task than Tulsa’s own Doc Freeman. Freeman is a member of Tulsa rap group Oilhouse (who recently performed at SXSW) and hosts the monthly Lessons in Fresh. Held at different locations around Tulsa, Lessons in Fresh pays homage to the elements of hip-hop with live performances, rap battles, breakdancing, vinyl DJing, and live graffiti painting.
For Freeman, keeping the crowd engaged comes naturally.
“Whenever you’re trying to get the music to work right, if there’s a technical difficulty, I always fill that space during Oilhouse shows; I do the same thing during Lessons,” he said.
I asked him if he planned on channeling hypeman Doug E. Fresh during the show.
“It’s always there, it’s always in the back of my mind, anytime I’m going to [perform] I think about Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, I think about DJ Kool Herc,” Freeman said. “I think about the first time I heard Big Daddy Kane, first time I heard Biz Markie … it was the sound of my skin color—this is the sound of my people, my family.”
Local artists to expect at Hip Hop 918 include Steph Simon, Verse, Doc Freeman, St. Domonick, DJ Somar, Tea Rush, Written Quincey, and more.
“This show will definitely be historic,” said Tea Rush, R&B singer and performer. “To have such iconic artists perform in downtown Tulsa [and] open up the show with some of Tulsa’s most talented local artists is insane. This will be a night to remember.”