Sister cities well-represented at Newark music festival

Photo by Chris Sykes
East Orange native and world famous rapper Anthony ‘Treach’ Criss of the hip-hop music group Naughty By Nature, center left, performs the hit song ‘Hip Hop Hooray’ live onstage in downtown Newark at the 13th annual Lincoln Park Music Festival on Sunday, July 29, as fellow rapper Mr. Funky of the group Lords of the Underground, center right, listens.

NEWARK, NJ — The Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District, on Broad Street in downtown Newark, hosted the 13th annual Lincoln Park Music Festival, beginning with gospel and rhythm-and-blues music on Friday, July 27, followed by house music on Saturday, July 28, and ending with hip-hop music on Sunday, July 29.

The Newark rap group Lords of the Underground also celebrated its 25th anniversary at this year’s festival. Orange and East Orange were well-represented throughout the festival, especially on Saturday, July 28, when recent North Ward City Council candidate Sharief Williams, at large Councilwoman Donna K. Williams, Recreation Department Supervisor Keith Pressey and many Orange High School alumni gathered to enjoy the music.

“I like house music as well. I like to get out. I haven’t seen a lot of people in a while and we’re just out here, having a good time,” said Sharief Williams, who attended the second day of the event with his friend, Reginald Green, from East Orange. “People really appreciate house music and the history of the music. People just like to come out and have a good time.”

Green said people associate house music with the mid- to late-1980s, when venues such as Zanzibar and Sensations in Newark and Club 88 in East Orange were filled to capacity every weekend, and that has contributed to the music’s longevity and popularity. Councilwoman Williams agreed that house music does make her and other “80s babies” remember the old Peppermint Lounge on Central Avenue and the good times they had “back in the day.”

The second day of the annual festival generally attracts the biggest crowds, but Councilwoman Williams came back to the festival on third day for the hip-hop portion of the festival, which served as the stage for the Lords of the Underground rap group’s 25th anniversary celebration. And she wasn’t the only notable person or elected official who came out on multiple days. Among those who did were Obalijah Baraka, brother of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka; Newark Deputy Mayor Rahman Muhammad; Big Seven, the father and manager of rapper Miss Nana; 2018 Newark City Council candidate and hip-hop press conference founder Terrance Bankston; Jeff Billingsley, the co-founder of Cobblestone Media, which once helped Irvington High School students produce an anti-drug rap song that won first place in a statewide anti-drug campaign slogan competition; the Redeye Mechanics fashion designers from East Orange; and Big Al, the barber shop owner from East Orange, and others.

“I’m a house music head and a hip-hop head today,” said Councilwoman Williams on Sunday, July 29. “I want to give a shout out to Lords of the Underground for stepping it up. Shout out to Do It All, for stepping it up and running for at large councilman in Newark this year and coming to the community to serve from a different position. Although things didn’t work out the way he desired them, to keep doing what you’re doing, I wish you guys another 25 years.”

East Orange native and world renowned rapper Anthony “Treach” Criss of the group Naughty By Nature also came to Lincoln Park on Saturday, July 29, to help his friends Lords of the Underground celebrate.

“We all one family,” said Criss on Saturday, July 29. “We got kids, women and our brothers and all us is one tribe out here.”

Singer Leah Jenea, who is currently competing on “The Four” TV entertainment talent contest, came to the final day of the festival to show support for her uncle, rapper Dupre “Do It All” Kelly of Lords of the Underground and his bandmates, Mr. Funky and DJ Lord Jazz. Jenea is also a member of the Illtown Sluggaz music label and production company that was founded by Naughty By Nature bandmates Vinny “Vin Rock” Brown and Keir “DJ Kay Gee” Gist.

Jenea and the other Illtown Sluggaz made their musical and performance debut on Wednesday, July 4, at East Orange’s annual fireworks display and concert in Paul Robeson Stadium. During the Lords of the Underground performance, she wished everyone continued success.

Kelly returned the favor to Jenea by asking the audience at third day of the festival to support her as she continues competing on “The Four” and in her career with the Illtown Sluggaz.

Anthony Smith, Lincoln Park Music Festival executive producer, said the festival was all about love.

“This is the last day of a three-day festival, 13th anniversary. Today we’re doing hip-hop. Yesterday was house music. The day before we did the youth, gospel, R&B, seniors. It’s just an amazing event and it gets better and better and better,” said Smith on Sunday, July 29. “Do It All being one of our artists and producers, it’s just wonderful to be able to celebrate 25 years of ‘Here Come the Lords,’ their album, and I’m just very excited about that.”

Smith also said the annual festival is part of a long tradition of artistic excellence and self-expression in Newark.

“The Newark arts scene has been prevalent since the 1930s, so all we’re doing is standing on the shoulders of those who came before us,” said Smith. “It is about legacy building. Building upon the legacy of our brown and black folks and what we’ve done to contribute to all genres of music and that’s what we’re doing here at Lincoln Park.”

For more information on the Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District and the annual festival, visit or call 973-242-4144.