With hometown heroes like Busta Rhymes and Jay-Z, nothing says Brooklyn quite like the music of hip-hop. The New York City borough is still ringing from the beats of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival (July 9 14) a scintillating six days of hip-hop concerts, films and parties from Williamsburg to the Brooklyn waterfront, headlined by Busta himself. But this being New York City, the party doesn't stop there: want a taste of the Big Apple's fabled nightlife, while staying in a hip-hop state of mind? Here are some insiders with party tips to share.
Wes Jackson, executive director, Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival
I like to go out in Brooklyn, to local places like Mo's in Fort Greene (mosftgreene.com). Each night offers something different burlesque, karaoke, music-video showcases. It's a great place to just relax and hear music. For a meal and to watch NCAA basketball games, I head over to Mullanes (mullanesbrooklyn.com), another neighborhood spot. They make the best hamburger in all of Brooklyn. Later, I'll go and catch a show at Brooklyn Bowl (brooklynbowl.com) in Williamsburg, which has a great sound system and a beautiful stage. You can hang out, get drunk and actually bowl, which I like to do with my crew, and the kitchen cooks up incredible fried chicken. Later, if it's not too late, I'll head into Manhattan and check out the vibe at Tillman's (tillmansnyc.com), a low-key jazz lounge in Chelsea. Tillman's draws a sophisticated, hip-hop kind of crowd and plays progressive funk, jazz and soul.
DJ Bijal, owner, Hotel BPM
My favorite restaurant right now is Scarpetta (scottconant.com), in the Meatpacking District. Its chef, Scott Conant, serves food that feels like a treat. I never miss his short-ribs appetizer. Later, if I'm feeling amped up, I might check out a nearby party. Usually you'll find me at Greenhouse (greenhouseusa.com), a nightclub over on the edge of SoHo. They host some of the city's highest-caliber DJs, so I know the music will always be great. On nights I'm craving live music, I like to visit Tammany Hall (tammanyhallny.com) on the Lower East Side. On Saturdays, Tammany Hall fills with up-and-coming DJs or record-release parties. When it opens in August, I'll be ending the night back in Brooklyn, in the lounge of my own Hotel BPM (hotelbpmbrooklyn.com).
Jasmine Solano, DJ and rapper
A night out in New York City begins with dinner at Jamaican restaurant Ms. Lily's (misslilysnyc.com). I like to order the jerk-chicken taquitos and check out the vintage reggae posters lining its walls. They're all originals you feel like you're in Kingston, circa 1955. If it's a weekend, I'll head for the Brooklyn Museum (brooklynmuseum.org), which hosts the monthly Target First Saturdays event featuring live music, gallery talks, a film series and late-night dance party, all for free. On other nights, I'll check out Good Peoples Summer Sail (good-peoples.com), a weekly dance party held on a clipper ship that sails along the Hudson. Usually, I'm hungry afterward, so I'll head to the Lower East Side for a late-night snack at the Meatball Shop (themeatballshop.com). The beef balls with ricotta and prosciutto are the restaurant's signature.
Jordan Sommers, editor, Hip-Hop: A Cultural Odyssey
I live in Los Angeles but am frequently in New York and love the city's nightlife. I often start my night downtown, with a meal at Pastis (pastisny.com) in the Meatpacking District. I like the food and the crowd, and it's right across from the Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC hotel (hotelgansevoort.com), where I often stay. After dinner, I'll head for the hotel's roof-top bar, Plunge, which has a loungy, low-key kind of vibe. On other nights, I might make for Broadway, usually for a show with an African-American theme. I'm looking forward to Mike Tyson's upcoming one-man play, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, directed by Spike Lee (telecharge.com). Then I'll do dinner in Harlem at Sylvia's (sylviasrestaurant.com), the iconic soul-food restaurant. Once I'm full, I'll head out for a night of music. I love Q-Tip (qtiponline.com), from A Tribe Called Quest, who deejays throughout the city. If he's spinning, I'll always catch his set.