Nineties hip hop sensation the Beatnuts, the self-proclaimed “Supa Supreme team from Queens” opened the 9th Annual Hip Hop Theater Festival yesterday with a play entitled Deez Nuts: A Musical Massacre. The duo (Juju is Dominican from Corona and Psycho Les is Colombian and grew up in Jackson Heights), inaugurated the festival with an offbeat show about their part in hip-hop culture. Some of the Beatnuts’s most legendary tracks (think “Se Acabo” and “Off the Books”) were performed live by the duo, and in between songs actors performed short skits detailing the group’s history.
This was anything but your typical hip-hop concert, and kudos to the Queens rappers for daring to put something like this out there. The play begins with a simulated table reading of a supposed play about the Beatnuts. Do not fear: this is a joke, and Juju really is reading that slowly on purpose. Gaffs about the play within the play continue throughout as the duo complain to director Sacha Jenkins about the way he’s mixed up their moms in a particularly crazy skit that had our stomachs begging for a break from so much laughter. The moment when the Juju and Psycho Les stand-ins hug and declare “Let’s go get our GED’s!” is nothing but genius. That said, the show is designed for Beatnuts connoisseurs. In the fashion of all self-parodies, it’s funniest to those best acquainted with the lingo and habits that are constantly ridiculed through Deez Nuts.
The very fact that the Beatnuts were chosen to open the festival speaks to the important Latin presence in hip hop. The artists stopped the show halfway to address this, reminiscing how Latin people went from being “just dancers” to becoming important influences in the genre. According to them, it all boils down to “respect” (which they’ve surely gained as the only Latin members of the Native Tongues Family).
Other Latino artists to keep an eye out for in the festival include Carlos “Mare 139” Rodriguez, who will be participating in a talk about graffiti and public space on October 16, and Bryonn Bain, who will be speaking about his experience as a Nuyorican Grand Slam Poetry Champion who was wrongly imprisoned while attending Harvard. He will host the special late night presentation and closing party of the festival on October 17th with his acclaimed show, Lyrics from Lockdown.
And for all you Remezcla readers who feel strongly about Latinos in hip hop: the free festival talk Race and Identity in Hip Hop Culture on October 9th is the perfect place for you to get your views out there (To RSVP for the talk e-mail email@example.com)
Photo Credit: Michael Premo