The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Multiple Choice expands in its second year, kicking off with a night of ‘Underground Hip Hop’ | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Multiple Choice expands in its second year, kicking off with a night of ‘Underground Hip Hop’

The launch party includes a breakdancing competition and performances from A-F-R-O and R.A. The Rugged Man

There’s a video on YouTube called “A-F-R-O — Definition of a Rap Flow.” It features a teenage MC called A-F-R-O rapping immaculately over a remix of Friend & Lover’s “Reach Out of the Darkness.” The dude is incredibly fast, but coherent; even the track’s title rhymes. Every couple of bars, when the flow crescendos, an awed voice chimes in: “What the fuck?” The video has more than two-and-a-half-million views, and it landed A-F-R-O a guest spot on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

This video was A-F-R-O’s submission to a rap-flow contest held by independent rapper R.A. The Rugged Man, a 25-year hip-hop veteran, whose collaborations include The Notorious B.I.G., Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep. A-F-R-O’s video won the contest.

On Jan. 29, both A-F-R-O and R.A. The Rugged Man come to the August Wilson Center to kick off the 2017 season of Multiple Choice. The program, which debuted last year, offers a number of events — drunk performances of Shakespeare and tastings from craft breweries, for example — and allows attendees to choose what they want to attend and pay accordingly. The tagline is: “Your night, you decide.”

Multiple Choice was developed by Randal Miller, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s director of dance programming and special projects. The program was initiated to engage a younger, more diverse audience. After a successful debut in 2016 with a dance contest and a performance from hip-hop icons EPMD, expansion seemed like a no-brainer. This year, Multiple Choice features five events.

The theme of the 2017’s inaugural event is Underground Hip Hop, offering a b-boy/b-girl competition featuring both local and national breakdancers, and performances from A-F-R-O and R.A. The night will also serve as a launch party for the 2017 season, with Miller giving a rundown of this year’s events and what they signify.

“My background is in street dancing, particularly breaking, so it’s always been a goal of mine to incorporate hip-hop culture into the Trust programming,” Miller says. “Featuring these kinds of events is important to diversify the programming that we do at the Cultural Trust.”

Other acts include DJ Selecta, Track Meet Cypher featuring Reason, EOS, Moemaw Naedon and Akono Miles.

The next event, the aforementioned Shitfaced Shakespeare, takes place on April 7.

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