April 25, 2024

The Nine Best Hip-Hop Clubs In New York City

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Janelle Wharton

​​Janelle Wharton, formally known as “Woah Nellie,” is a music…

A young African American deejay performs for a crowd at a city night club. Colorful stage lights illuminate the stage behind him.

Photo by RyanJLane

New York City has been taking some time over the years to wake up from its post-lockdown slumber. Rising from the ashes of vacant clubs and dance floors, it seems as if new, aesthetically pleasing places to go are created every day in a push for the city to return to its former nightlife capital glory. There are many NYC clubs, with most of them catering to the house and EDM demographics. But the melting pot essence that gives the city its charm falls short when representing other kinds of spaces in the club scene. As a result, places that cater to other niche audiences like hip-hop often get overlooked and overshadowed, making it harder to find spots (unless you know someone that knows), where you can hear and dance to the best old and new rap music out.

So, in an effort to take away the stress of future planning, we’ve compiled nine of the best hip-hop clubs in New York City worth checking out. Some are for those looking for a more chill and mature crowd, while others are arguably among some of the best dance clubs in NYC. Depending on what you’re looking for, one of these clubs will surely provide the hip-hop fix you’re looking for.

Nebula

In midtown Manhattan near Bryant Park, nightclub and event space Nebula isn’t directly defined as a “hip-hop club,” but it is known for being the host to “Tuesday BABY Tuesday,” the “longest-running party in NYC’s nightlife history.” The widely popular weekly event has been packing out dancefloors across the city since 1993, with its current home being Nebula. The party is still highly anticipated, known for playing hip-hop-centric current rap and top 40 hits. It’s also not uncommon to witness some celebrities in attendance for the event as a guest host or performer, with A-Boogie Wit da Hoodie, Don Toliver, Rick Ross, Travis Scott, 50 Cent, Bobby Shmurda, Rae Sremmurd and more having made appearances.

Katra

Lower Manhattan’s Katra Lounge offers the full hip-hop club experience with hookah, sections, and everything in between. This Moroccan-inspired venue is a prime spot for partygoers wanting to dance to hip-hop all night. Every weekend you can look forward to events like “Hip-Hop vs Caribbean music,” “Hip-Hop vs AfroBeats,” “TGI Fridays After Work” and “Certified Saturdays.” If you’re more of an early bird, there are also their daytime brunches that happen every Sunday. No matter when you attend, it’s recommended that you try their French-inspired Middle Eastern fusion menu, and take in the venue’s sleek and sultry interior before hitting the dancefloor.

Harbor NYC

Similar to Nebula, Harbor NYC in Hell’s Kitchen isn’t the usual “hip-hop club” since some nights cater to an EDM crowd. Still, it’s a place where you can catch some of hip-hop’s biggest stars in attendance, whether it’s to perform or turn up (or both). Some past star attendees include Nav, Lola Brooke, BIA, Central Cee, Future and many more.

Lounge 247

Not to be confused with its sister venue Bob Bar (an equally enjoyable hip-hop club as well), Lounge 247 in Manhattan’s lower east side is a go-to destination for rap fans 30 and up. The club is a favorite for more chill and mature patrons, known for primarily playing ‘90s and 2000s hip-hop classics. The space is more of an intimate bar than a club, with the dancefloor on the smaller side of the space. Because of this, it’s known to fill up pretty quickly on Fridays and Saturdays, so earlier attendance is recommended.

SNS Bar

Near Chelsea Market is SNS Bar, a venue known for bringing in a young, fly, and stylish crowd. An acronym for Sneakersnstuff, the bar is a part of the larger SNS brand, a streetwear clothing store founded by Stockholm natives Erik Fagerlind and Peter Jansson that’s directly above the club. This venue is definitely the place to go if you are looking to catch some of NYC’s hottest trending DJs that play hip-hop with a blend of other genres.

Lambda Lounge

 

Lambda Lounge is Harlem’s only black-owned queer bar. It has quickly become known as a safe and inclusive space for the LGBTQ community. Soft-launched in 2020 during the pandemic, owners and life partners Richard Solomon and Charles Hughes opened Lambda as an extension of their brand of spirits, Lambda Vodka. Since opening, the space is now considered a staple in the LGBTQ club scene, with the success of their Harlem location leading to others in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The former, called Club Lambda, is notable for its 5,000-square-foot, two story venue that aims to expand its demographic with even more events catered to the gay and trans communities. Each location has its own set of events as well, with “Wet Wednesdays” and “FNF Fridays” being party staples at the Manhattan lounge, while “Fridays at Lambda” and “Sneaky Link Saturday” are the main attractions at the Brooklyn location.

Schimmi

Williamsburg’s Bar Schimmi is connected to the widely popular Schimanski club and serves as one of the premier hip-hop-centered spaces in Brooklyn. Bar Schimmi hosts a variety of packed-out events across different genres, but “Select Fridays” or “Simply Schimmi” are staple events that cater the most to hip-hop crowds. In addition to good music, there is also no shortage of star-studded sightings at this place, with past celebrity guest appearances including Joey Badass, Saweetie, J.I.D, Smino, and more.

Lot 45

Another highly recommended spot for all things hip-hop in Brooklyn is Bushwick’s Lot 45. The industrial space turned living room styled lounge with art and cozy decor, is known to have a crowded dance floor most weekends. This venue is a second home to some of New York’s most sought-after DJs that consistently host events catering to soca, amapiano, afrobeats, and more. For hip-hop, some highly anticipated parties that take place at Lot 45 include: the DJ Mike Nasty-hosted “Lit 45” which appeals to current rap fans, and the Moresoupplease-hosted “More Hits Please,” which is dedicated to classic ‘90s and 2000s hip-hop.

Cafe Erzulie

A Haitian-style cafe located in Brooklyn, Cafe Erzulie comes highly recommended by locals as one of the more popular spots in the borough that caters to hip-hop, afrobeats, and amapiano crowds. Taking its name from “Erzulie,” the Haitian voodoo spirit that represents voodoo, love and dance, the cafe serves coffee and Haitian-inspired dishes during the day. By night, the space transforms into a cocktail bar. During the weekday evenings, you can stop by the cafe to enjoy their jazz nights. But if you are in the mood to dance, it’s recommended to go on weekends for notable hip-hop-centric events like “Live at Erzulie” and “First Saturdays,” which are led by DJs Flygerian and Stonie Blue — both standouts in NYC’s DJ scene — respectively.

​​Janelle Wharton, formally known as “Woah Nellie,” is a music journalist, curator and DJ. Nelliee hosts her own radio show, Nitetide FM, where she showcases the latest in future beats and eclectic sounds. When she is not DJing, she also works as a music journalist and curator, highlighting up-and-coming talent through feature interviews and updates to the “RNB Room” playlist for the UK-based platform Souletiquette.





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