DJ Jazzy Jeff, Rakim, Slick Rick, and KRS-One; photos courtesy of the Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center Celebrates the 30th Anniversary Lyricist Lounge

As the Kennedy Center celebrates 50 years of the arts in America, the commemoration of 30 years of Lyricist Lounge is a fitting tribute. In the winter of 1991, two teenage hip-hop dancers—Danny Castro and Anthony Marshall—took over a small studio in the Lower East Side for an open mic night. An audience of 25 crammed into the space, packed with sound equipment and wires, and listened as a handful of MCs took the mic to beats played from a cassette player. Evolving into a showcase series, Lyricist Lounge quickly became the sonic playground for both emerging artists and old-school legends, with hip-hop royalty hosting, and record executives in attendance. The Nov. 19 Kennedy Center show features hip-hop luminaries Rakim, Slick Rick, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and KRS-One. The four icons will perform for several hours, harking back to those sprawling old events that lasted all night. “Because we are marking the 30th anniversary, it will be an evening of celebration. For so many of us, it’s been a good year and a half since we’ve been able to be together in shared space,” says Simone Eccleston, director of Hip-Hop Culture and Contemporary Music at the Kennedy Center. “First and foremost, this will definitely be a celebration, and it’ll be a dynamic party that allows us to experience our geniuses and our living legends in real time. Lyricist Lounge has created space and a platform to uplift artists for over 30 years, so it is deeply significant to welcome that institution and these venerable artists to the Kennedy Center.” The Bridge Concert Series: Lyricist Lounge featuring Rakim, Slick Rick, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and KRS-One at the Kennedy Center starts at 8 p.m. on Nov. 19 at the Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW. kennedy-center.org. Tickets are sold out, but check website for details.