New Yorkers freestyle rap in Union Square

In 2009, Chris Sullivan hung out a beat-box shingle in NYC's Union Square, inviting passers-by to come and rap with him. The results were great, and the Master of Fine Arts rap is especially piquant.

Free Beats - The Director's Cut! (via Kottke)



  1. Now, that’s the greatest thing I’ve seen all week. I could stand there and dig it for hours.

  2. The tag says two weeks after the election and it began with Xmas music. So it was in November of 2008.

    The whole thing is just cool and smooth. Well done. Though I’m surprised it took this long for me to see it.

    1. I think so.

      My daughter’s five, and we’ve been watching the new Electric Company for a while.

      Chris Sullivan is Shock and an animated Reggie Watts is Music Man on that show. I’m sure they’ve run into each other before.

  3. Big smiles here, too. Makes me wonder what an open mic on the sidewalk might net on any given weekend.

  4. Well you have to figure that you’re not going to step up to the mic if you don’t have the skills and a rhyme ready… and given that many hip-hop artists live in NYC it’s not hard to imagine that a few might walk by (it’s a happenin’ park in a part of town with a *lot* of foot traffic).

    Plus of course random people who are into it as a hobby, like the MFA guy, which was clever. I’m very glad I watched this, normally I might have skipped over something like this but it was great.

  5. I hate to spoil the fun, but the Master of Fine Arts guy is a rapper who goes by Soce the Elemental Wizard, the woman with the whistle is a comedian who sometimes does music stuff named Jessica Delfino, and I recognize but can’t for the life of me name the “Where my squirrels at” guy and the guy with the big afro. I wouldn’t be shocked to learn they’re all performers. That many performers just showing up coincidentally is possible in Union Square, I guess, but unlikely.

    1. Kind of have to agree with this. I really think Chris Sullivan is talented, but the “cameos” by other performers in NYC is really disheartening. It’s actually quite deceptive. The NYC stage/performance scene is so small, insular and nepotistic already it would be nice to see some “new blood” show up; especially in something like this that gives the general world the impression this was all “spontaneous.” So staged.

  6. I like everyone who have been made so cynical by the world we live in. Here is another scenario. He was out there all day and when cutting it only selected the best. The best happening to be somewhat famous people. 2:28 minutes of footage from a whole day of doing this and he selected the somewhat recognizable cream of the crop? I cringe to imagine how much bad footage he had to shoot to get 2 minutes of good film.

  7. My daughter also watches the Electric Company but I think I like it more than she does. Cool to see Chris doing his thing, and I;’m not really bugged bu the cameos but thanks for myth-busting, folks. It’s awesome when big geek brains get together (and I’m not sarcasming).

  8. Chris/Shockwave here, yes the deck was stacked, sorry to the Dogme 95’rs out there… 
    While several talented friends did drop by amongst the genuine Union Square passerby, everything was indeed improvised and I felt captured the vibe of NYC at that time and in no way was meant to be contrived or deceptive. I’m glad that those of you that did, enjoyed it!

  9. Great beatboxing there, @offbook, and I like the idea a lot. Obviously you must get a lot of hilariously bad tries, and I don’t blame you for not including them in the video…but you made these people’s day a little bit brighter by allowing them to create, and that’s truly a wonderful thing.

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