Thursday night Okayplayer, The Roots, Heineken and several hundred of our closest friends and fam rang in the holidays (all of them– Diwali, Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Years and Mayan Apocalypse) with so much goodwill towards men (and the ladies, the ladies!) that some of us are just now waking up on Saturday evening. It was our 6th Annual Okayplayer Holiday Jam and our 2nd year at Brooklyn Bowl, home of Questlove‘s legendary Bowl Train residency on Thursday nights (not to mention the all-around favorite fried chicken, bowling and live music spot for many of the staff on Friday-Wednesday nights). The evening was hosted by Michael K. Williams AKA Omar from the HBO program The Wire AKA our favorite black cowboy AKA Ol’ Dirty Bastard in the forthcoming ODB biopic Dirty White Boy (more on that in a second). After getting warmed up with DJ sets from our own resident music experts DJ Brainchild & Eddie STATS plus LargeUp boss DJ Gravy the mood was set by a series of opening acts that represent some of the hottest up and coming artists to step on the scene in 2012.
After an introduction to Dice Raw‘s protége, Rone,the crowd was spellbound by sets from Sonnymoon, OKP records newest artist Jennah Bell, (Jennah killed em’ softly throughout but her wild jazzy cover of Notorious B.I.G.‘s “Big Poppa” was an evening highlight) and Kids These Days (this may in fact be the first time non-Roots bands have touched the holiday jam stage so that tells you right there how highly we rate these rising stars).
Photo set by Corren Conway, forever12.com
Then it was time to get busy. Once The Roots took control of the evening in their inimitable style the jam proper kicked off with an historic cameo from William Hart, lead singer of Philly soul legends The Delphonics doing “La La La Means I Love You” and “Ready Or Not” with The Roots on the backup. Once people had collected themselves the rappity rap segment with Black Thought and Talib Kweli trading bars over Okayplayer classics old and new plus a sneak peak of new music (sampling Rotary Connection‘s Black Gold of the Sun”) from Kweli’s artist Cory Mo. Then Q-Tip popped up from behind a speaker box to join in the mayhem and kept he cipher going before launched into a full live version of “Electric Relaxation.” Other rappity-rap highlights included the amazing human beatbox Rahzel astonishing with his trademark mastery of the arts of vocal noise–right before A$ap Rocky stepped on the stage as The Roots reprised their live arrangement of “Goldie” from the harlem rookie’s infamous appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.
Then it was time for the reggae jam with original dancehall singer (literally, like he was the very first) Johnny Osbourne, followed closely by Red Fox and Screechy Dan who got some of the biggest forwards of the night with their renditions of “Pum Pum Shorts” and “Bashment Party.” Not to be outdone by the LargeUp crew, Okayafrica repped hard in the form of Angolan dance crew Os Kuduristas who conducted an insane dance-battle while Eddie STATS got (ahem) a little carried away with the kuduro selections in the background. If this sounds like a lot was going on at this point it was really just the beginning. At some point it got a little blurry for me personally but I can clearly remember Tunde Adebimpe from TV On The Radio doing Clarence Carter‘s “Backdoor Santa” in full funkdafied costume, Michael K. Williams doing “Brooklyn Zoo” in character as ODB, Bilal jamming out with Robert Glasper, Vernon Reid and legendary “Apache” drummer King Errisson, and buzzworthy Wild Belle doing “My Favorite Things.”
The crew of friends and family in attendance was just about as packed with musical luminaries as the stage and if you were bowling that night you were probably rubbing shoulders or sharing lane-time with Sean Price, Ali Shaheed Muhammed, Stanley Clark, Amber from the Dirty Projectors, YahZarah (who got her dreamgirls on earlier to sing back-up for William Hart), Bajah of Dry-Eye Crew fame, or OKP recording artist Danny! with Von Pea (collectively known as PeaSwain).
Photo set by Terrence Jennings, terrencejennings.photoshelter.com
There was also plenty of reindeer games like the ‘stop & frisk’ mistletoe station and the ill photo booth provided by Heineken. In the spirit of the season, we also encouraged everyone to give something back to Occupy Sandy in their efforts to help re-build NYC
We have to say thanks and beaucoups respects to our sponsors Heineken and Flavorpill as well as congrats to all 25 OKP contest winners who were in the house (sign up for our emails to enter amazing contests like this in the future).