For over two decades, the Lyricist Lounge has been building a reputation as an important staple in hip-hop culture. The brand, which was created by Ant Marshall and Danny Castro, has orchestrated some iconic moments from coordinating the first ever Bad Boy Entertainment launch party to landing their own show on MTV. Putting on showcases is what they do best and they are set to do just that this year’s A3C Festival & Conference.
What began as a get together amongst friends in a small studio space in New York City has blossomed into brand known for putting on legendary events that have included the likes of Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Erykah Badu and Slick Rick to name a few. The Lyricist Lounge has played a vital role in breaking, promoting and marketing fresh talent. Birthed in an era devoid of social media platforms and streaming music services, Marshall and Castro’s knack for finding and attracting fresh emcees gave them an invaluable position in music.
“We were the groundbreakers,” Marshall said in an exclusive interview. “There was no Facebook. There was no Twitter. There was no YouTube. We broke a lot of artists.”
Although the Lyricist Lounge has stayed active hosting local events around the country, Marshall says they are ready to make a push to having the reach they had during they run on MTV. From 2000 to 2001 the Lyricist Lounge Show brought rap-filed comedy sketches to national television. Despite a relatively short run, the legacy the show created is undeniable.
“Sixteen years ago for a young black man and a Puerto Rican kid to have a show on MTV was a big deal,” Marshall said. “We came on right after the Real World. We were on the same channel as Tom Green. When you see any sort of skit on SNL involving rapping, just know that we started that with the Lyricist Lounge Show.”
Marshall said that so far the team has been having a smooth time putting the show back together with the help of their newly assembled cast.
“It just felt like the right time,” he said. The biggest thing was getting the talent together. Getting Boog Brown, 4 IZE, HeadKrack and UGeorge. All of these folks have brought the concept back to life.
“There hasn’t been any challenges. Everything has been really smooth. The thing about this concept is that when it works it works really well. If there is a challenge, it’s not with us creatively. It’s just about connecting with a different generation.
The Lyricist Lounge looks poised to add to an already impressive legacy. Their artist first approach has helped them avoid many of the pitfalls that have ended other hip-hop oriented organizations.
“The difference between us and some other brands out there is that we are a hip-hop entity that’s not known for being a business,” Marshall said. “We’re not a part of the industry. We are with the artists.”
Catch the Lyricist Lounge Sketch Showthis Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the Earl in East Atlanta Village.