Rakim, Black Thought, Brand Nubian and more say good bye to Knitting Factory

The Knitting Factory in New York has put on so many amazing Hip Hop shows that listing them all would be close to impossible. Brand Nubian, X-ecutioners, D.I.T.C., Black Moon, Craig G., Nice and Smooth, Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip, DJ Premier, Jean Grae, AZ, David Banner, Maino, The Beatnuts, Black Sheep, Ashanti and many more had their shows there in just the last 6 months. The venue literally became the number 1 Hip Hop performing hall in New York.

With a capacity of only 415 at the last show the Knitting Factory has packed its walls over and again, with crazed fans throwing up Wu signs for GZA, cheering for Slick Rick, loosing itself in the wordplay of Royce Da 5’9, awing at DJ mastery of DJ JS-1, dropping jaws at unmatched beatboxing skills of Rahzel, and on and on. Since 1987, when the venue opened its doors for the first time it expanded into a 4-city live music club presence and hosted a slew of musicians from all walks of life.

In December, leaving its New York City building and moving into Brooklyn, the Knitting Factory hosted its last Hip Hop show in the now old space with several of Hip Hop’s superstars taking to the stage. Representing for New York’s Hip Hop, regretfully the Factory is presently on the losing side. Only 1 of the 2008 top 10 selling albums came from a New York artist. That’s right, Nas never disappoints. 7 came from the South, 2 from California (Snoop and The Game) and Kanye repped for Mid-West. It may have all begun in New York, but the witty rhymes of Jadakiss, fast-spitting elaborate lines of Big Daddy Kane, fierce wordplay of Buckshot and even the army of Wu-Tang Clan can’t cover the top-selling album spots in the world of today. Soulja Boy says Nas killed Hip Hop and unfortunately that is how many youngens will even learn of the great Queens Bridge rapper’s name.

To defy all of those depressing tendencies in Hip Hop and to properly depart, the Knitting Factory got Rakim, Black Thought, Brand Nubian and Jus Ice to put on a 7-hour Hip Hop show extravaganza. They were joined by Consequence, Dres of Black Sheep, Les of Beatnuts, ?uestlove, Sav Killz and many others. Everyone who could have made it to the show ended up there. The club capacity was exceeded by almost 2 times, the backstage reminded of a can of sardines and non-performing artists like DJ Beverly Bond and DJ Vlad were joined by Zulu Nation members to celebrate the event.

New York, stand up! Hip-Hop’s top 3 Biggest Earners For 2008 were still New York artists (50 Cent, Jay-Z and Diddy). NYC was on top of Hip Hop for decades and even California’s gangsta rap couldn’t change that. Common and Kanye been spending more time in 212 and 718 than Chi-town. Almost all major music labels (Def Jam, SONY BMG, Warner Music, so on) are still New York-headquartered and based. The Knitting Factory is simply moving, not going out of business. And Rakim and other Hip Hop stars of his time are still in the spotlight. Anyone who had any doubts simply had to be there on December 19th.

Dmitriy Goldin