Jersey City has a long and colorful hip-hop history. Nonetheless, it hasn’t always been easy for Jersey City artists to make or perform hip-hop. Regional stages don’t often welcome rap shows. And unlike other cities that celebrate their hip-hop pioneers, we’ve never done much to commemorate our significant role in the development of the style or champion our local heroes — some of whom have national profiles.
Kosan is attempting to make an intervention in both problems. Through his Break a Leg Entertainment, the local artist and promoter has spent several years attempting to convince Jersey City club and venue owners to accommodate hip-hop. He’s hosted shows at FM, Headroom, and other long-gone spots. This August, Kosan may have found a home in a place with plenty of history of its own. His “We Outside!!: Historical Hip-Hop Tour” series kicks off tomorrow night — Thursday, August 4 — at The Barrow Mansion (83 Wayne St.), which is back open to the public after a long pandemic-era shutdown.
Subsequent “We Outside!!” shows will take place on Wednesday, August 10 at the Grove Street PATH Train Plaza during Groove on Grove, and Bethune Park (140 Martin Luther King Drive) on Thursday, August 25th.
The promoter has always drawn from the pool of Jersey City hip-hop artists, and “We Outside!!” will be a demonstration of that talent. But as Kosan makes clear, this is more than just a series of concerts. It’s an intervention in the story of Hudson Country music — a story that often omits hip-hop altogether.
“We’re doing a history lesson throughout the show,” says Kosan, who is an emcee himself. “We’ll have a deejay from the ‘80s, one from the ‘90s, and a modern one. The ‘80s deejay will be spinning actual vinyl — old Jersey classics. We’re also doing a ‘mixtape’ that’s going to take people through deejaying in Jersey City over the years.”
Participants in the series include local duo Petey X Kraze, whose excellent track “I Don’t Even Do That” was a moody local favorite in late 2015, Lyle Omolayo of the mutilingual duo Negros Americanos, professor and rapper Quis Chandla, rambunctious rhymer Kash Stackson, sweet-talking Jay Hollin, who has recently made some waves with his musical come-on “Rock With You,” and deejays Gilmatic, Leeroy Green, and Vic Shades.
“Some of these artists are educators,” explains Kosan, who brought the groundbreaking Jersey City hip-hop artist Chill Rob G to Café Soleil on Communipaw Ave. in 2016. “We’re going to talk about what Jersey artists inspired us, and how the hip-hop scene has evolved.”