Why you should care
Because if 2016 was epic, 2017 is only gonna be bigger, better and more delicious.
If you’re not currently in Central Park for OZY Fest 2017, we have two things to say to you. First, WHY THE HELL NOT?! Seriously — we have a jam-packed lineup of musicians, comedians, celebrity chefs, politicians and thought leaders (yes, that’s right: Jeb Bush, Zara Larsson, Mark Cuban and Samantha Bee are all appearing on the same stage) in what CNBC described as “New York’s answer to SXSW.” And second, while you wait in what must be utter agony for highlights from today’s fest, get your OZY fix with these spectacular moments at last year’s OZY Fest.
Check out video clips of appearances from Issa Rae, Cory Booker, Malcolm Gladwell, Laurene Powell Jobs and more. It’s almost as good as being there right now. Almost.
“Big asses … would be a huge theme in the music I would grow up to love.” That’s what the future star of the HBO series Insecure told last year’s OZY Fest audience. “But unfortunately, it was not a huge theme in my own genetic makeup.” Issa Rae shared a hysterical glimpse into the evolution of ratchet music, and her complicated personal history with the genre, running us through Lil’ Kim’s, Juvenile’s and Missy Elliott’s top hits — the anthems of her youth. Little did Rae know how important big butts and big-buttedness would become.
“Let me be the first to say it — maybe a bit inappropriately, given the timing — but Cory Booker 2024!” shouted Carlos Watson, OZY’s co-founder, just days after the news broke that Hillary Clinton had passed over Booker in favor of Tim Kaine in her search for a running mate. The junior senator from New Jersey roused the OZY Fest 2016 crowd with a series of impassioned points about party policy, race, criminal justice, inequality and Black Lives Matter. “The most dangerous type of privilege,” he said, “is the mindset that if a problem isn’t affecting me personally, it must not really be a problem.… The question shouldn’t be, ‘Why is Black Lives Matter protesting in the streets?’ Why aren’t more of us protesting in the streets?” With the Democratic Party in an extended period of soul-searching, we’ve still got our eye on Booker as one to watch.
Close your eyes and listen. You’ll hear syncopated drumbeats. Manipulated horns. A deep bass. This is a head-nodding track that any club DJ would deem worthy. Open your eyes and you’ll see four dudes in sneakers and T-shirts onstage, producing sounds with only their voices. The members of New York City’s Beatbox House used to compete against one another on the biggest stages. Now they improvise with each other while doing the dishes — and play festivals together like OZY Fest 2016. They aim to raise the profile of beatboxing from party trick to serious art form. Give them a listen and then tell us they can’t.
Zambian-born macroeconomist Dambisa Moyo is one of the world’s most prominent thinkers on international development. Formerly at the World Bank and Goldman Sachs, she’s now a best-selling author and international public speaker. Last year, she gave the OZY Fest audience insight into one of the most pressing issues facing developed economies (though her work has tended, deliberately, to interrogate the line between “developed” and “undeveloped” countries) — income inequality. “At its very core, income inequality is growing because of the erosion of social mobility,” Moyo said. The solution? Transfers and minimum wages in the short term, and better investment in quality education in the long term.
More OZY Fest 2016 highlights: