Beats and Barbecue returns to bring the groove to Worcester Common
After a three-year hiatus, the Beats and Barbecue hip-hop festival returns to Worcester Common on September 17. Food trucks and music will fill the Common from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., then Electric Haze will host the Beats After. the showcase of the barbecue producer, which will last until late at night.
“It’s going to be something for everyone, back to the community vibes,” said Beats and Barbecue founder Cyrus Alexander.
Alexander is a producer and DJ who has long been an integral part of Worcester’s hip-hop community, performing and releasing music under the name Cyrus Tha Great. When he organized the first Beats and Barbecue in 2017, he was inspired by the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, which takes place every July in Brooklyn and features musicians from the legendary hip-hop scene in borough alongside local, community and family-oriented businesses. organizations.
“The food (at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival) was great and it was an outdoor atmosphere. I wanted to bring something like that to Worcester. People love music and food, and those are the two social elements that bring people together. folks, so I thought that was a good hook for an event,” Alexander said.
The festival is a ticketed event, but general admission tickets are free. Premium tickets, available at different prices, allow attendees to enter the festival via an express line.
This year’s headliners are Brooklyn-based soul singer-songwriter Iniko, who recently signed a deal with Columbia Records, and Detroit rapper eLZhi, who will both take to the Common stage at the end of afternoon. Kendra Foster, Grammy-winning songwriter and solo artist in her own right, will also perform.
Local hip-hop artists will be featured on stage throughout the day, including Ghost of the Machine, DJ Proof, Jafet Muzic and Alexander himself, who will spin live beats while Detroit rapper Noveliss takes the microphone.
Alexander said that at the last Beats and Barbecue festival in 2018 he ran into logistical difficulties after booking more live performers than he could fit into the festival schedule, and that this year the performances will be more streamlined.
“This year, I made a concerted effort to have a lean performance lineup. The year before, there were too many opening performers, and because of that, we had to cut the lead times poster, which was terrible,” Alexander said. “This year, I wanted to make sure we had enough time so that there was no problem with artists having enough time to do what they wanted. ‘they had to do.’
The festival will also set up a projection screen and an open space where festival-goers can sit and settle in to watch a film. A week before the festival, Alexander said he was preparing the lineup for the day’s film screenings.
“Beats and Barbecue is a festival that I would say attracts downtown, but it’s also welcome for everyone, it’s all-inclusive. The type of movies we would show would be classic movies that we grew up watching, something like “Juice” or “Love Jones,” Alexander said.
However, this year’s main cinematic event will be held at the Blackstone Valley Cinema De Lux in Millbury. Beats and Barbecue will host a preview screening of “The Woman King,” a historical drama about the all-female Agojie military unit of the West African kingdom of Dahomey. Viola Davis stars in the film as a general who trains a generation of women to fight.
Alexander said separate tickets would be available for the screening of “Woman King,” but those tickets would also include premium admission to Beats and Barbecue.
After the festival, the producer showcase Beats After the Barbecue will take place at Electric Haze, at 9 p.m. , Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar.
Shawn J. Period, Praise, Kel C and Alexander, who will take the stage for the second time that day, will also spin Electric Haze.
“I liken the method by which I was able to compile the producer’s showcase to that of Nick Fury in ‘The Avengers’. The scene at the end of ‘Iron Man’, when he introduces Tony Stark to the Avengers Initiative, that’s the method I followed when I brought the producers together for this showcase,” Alexander said. “We are in good company.”
Alexander said the festival ended in 2019 due to low funding and the pandemic provided him with an unexpected opportunity to come up with new strategies for the event.
“I’m a perfectionist and I like things to be done a certain way, and we didn’t have the budget to do it the way I imagined, so we had to take this year off,” Alexander said. . “I was able to put together, reconceptualize some good ideas, and here we are. This event is an accumulation of all my thoughts and ideas that I have compiled over the past two years.
According to Alexander, most of Beats and Barbecue’s funding this year will come from his own pocket, and some financial institutions have withdrawn their pledges of support. Despite this financial pressure, he remains determined to organize the festival.
“There was an institution that said they would join us as a sponsor, and then they just dropped out of the festival for no reason. I don’t understand how such a positive event can be overlooked like this, and c “That’s the frustrating part. Not only do I have to deal with racism on a daily basis, but I also have to deal with it in this industry when I’m trying to organize a community event,” Alexander said. “It can be daunting, but I have to keep pushing, for the culture, for the city and for the community.”
More information about the festival is available at https://www.beatsandbarbecue.com/.