Thursday, June 14, 2007
The Twomp Newsletter 1
Spotlighting the unification, strength, and mobilization of Northwest Hip Hop Culture and surrounding communities
Notes from the Editor: Seattle Hip Hop is moving at a furious pace here on the tip of the West coast, the mighty 2-0-6, where the community continues to set precedence in youth service, activism, solidarity and artistic excellence in urban arts culture. Be sure to cop the new long awaited albums of Laura "Piece" Kelley-Jahn and Silas Blak! Shouts to the new University of Washington Hip Hop Congress Chapter. Also, check for the TWOMP radio show, Volume 3, featuring Piece, Unexpected Arrival, The Parker Brothaz, Sonny Bonoho, and much more coming soon!
* DV and Raj: Hip Hop a Catalyst for Police Brutality Organizing Efforts
* Seattle Hip Hop Community Survey Launched
* Swagger Fest 2007
* Seattle Hip Hop Demands Media Justice
* Union Block Teamsters Update
The Twomp Newsletter c 2007
Send questions and comments to Juliec.firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Hip Hop Community a Catalyst for Police Brutality Organizing Efforts
Seattle police department's continual targeting of communities of color and lack of accountability for police misconduct and violence is at the forefront of organizing efforts in Seattle Hip Hop. In September of last year, Seattle Hip Hop pioneer DJ DV-One was assaulted by police officers attempting to inquire about his 14 year old daughter who was being detained. DV-One now faces felony assault charges and $15,000 dollars in fines. Last month, emcee, spoken word poet, and teaching Hip Hop artist Rajnii Eddins was wrongfully arrested while trying to find out why his student was being detained. Rapid response from the Hip Hop and spoken word communities packed courtrooms in both cases, and has drawn widespread attention to the ongoing issue of police brutality in this city.
As a response to this outcry, the Seattle chapter of the NAACP hosted a community meeting earlier this week, where about thirty people gathered and formed committees for an action coalition around the issue. "What we saw at this gathering was an outcry of the brutality that has been happening over the years that has gone unaddressed," says emcee and teaching artist Amanda "Beloved1" Cumbow, who is also the chair of the newly-formed communications committee. Beloved1 maintains that the greater purpose of the coalition is to organize the efforts and energies behind these individual incidents into a cohesive force. "We must present a united front to the politicians and the police department to get legislative changes," she asserts.
The police brutality action coalition is asking for the community's continuing input, support, and participation in this process. While the NAACP is an important ally in this battle, it was the voices, effort, and expertise of the people on the ground that has brought them to the table, and it will be that of the people who ultimately determine the extent of structural change that will come. For more information on how to support this process, or to voice your own experiences and concerns with police brutality, email Beloved313@gmail.com
Seattle Hip Hop Community Survey Launched
Hip Hop Congress and Seattle University professor Dr. Mako Fitts have teamed up to launch the Seattle Hip Hop Community Survey. This pioneering effort is among the first of its kind which attempts to empirically identify the scope and needs of our diverse community in order to provide a well-needed research base for cultural organizing economic empowerment on the ground level with Hip Hop from a local to global perspective.
Students from Fitts' undergraduate pop culture class will be setting up interviews and surveying 200 movers and shakers in the Seattle Hip Hop scene, artists, promoters, journalists, educators, youth organizers, activists, and advocates alike. Students will also be going to shows and community meetings and submitting write-ups for local Hip Hop news sources such as 206zulu.com. The survey is anonymous and collects basic demographic and occupational information, assessments on the quality and availability of resources for the development of the local scene, and asks participants to rank the impact of issues and concerns such as racial, gender, and sexual discrimination as well as police brutality in their lives.. As a staple principle of community-based research, the information collected will be publicly owned and utilized to aid in the development of initiatives that will benefit the urban arts community as a whole in the region. Data will also be offered as a resource for urban arts community-based organizations in the city to quantifiably measure the impact of their work and demonstrate its value.
The survey is, in part, based on the cluster-model used in a report commissioned by Seattle's Office Economic Development called the Economic Impact of Seattle's Music Industry, which showed that the core of Seattle's music industry generates nearly 8,700 direct jobs in over 2,600 businesses, and 2,000 jobs in 335 music-related businesses at an average annual wage of $22,771 dollars per year. However, because the city's report largely neglected Hip Hop as part of the local music industry cluster (I counted one Hip Hop promotions company out of hundreds of other sources), it failed to show the rapidly growing connection between the independent music scene and the youth service sector in the city that is more prevalent in Hip Hop than any other musical genre. By utilizing the insight and experiences of Hip Hop artists, educators, and grassroots organizers, the Hip Hop Community survey was crafted to represent the full spectrum of Hip Hop cultural production emerging from the region, demonstrate its impact.
The survey is also an important step to bridging the gap between community and the campus in a time where the status quo has academia eons away from the reality faced by Hip Hop artists, educators, activists, and cultural organizers. While the works of folks like Jeff Chang and Bakari Kitwana have provided an important historical and theoretical framework to validate Hip Hop studies in the academic world, the transition from theory to practice remains largely unrealized. Projects that connect students and academic institutions with surrounding communities in mutually empowering ways is a movement towards making meaningful use of the academic study of Hip Hop Culture.
To promote the survey as a model for Hip Hop communities in other regions, the survey its results will be presented at the 2007 Hip Hop Congress National Summit in Athens, Ohio, July 4th-8th. For more information on this, email Juliec.email@example.com.
Swagger Fest 2007: Seattle's most Flossy and Fly
If you were in the Emerald City on May 2nd and weren't at Chop Suey for Swagger Fest, I extend my regrets to you, because you missed some of the most dynamic, energy-packed performances Seattle has to offer. With Vitamin D on the ones and twos, Neemah of Unexpected Arrival hosting, and an arsenal of emcees from Soul Guerilla, Sportn' Life Records, and Union Block Teamsters, Swagger Fest did much more than live up to its name.
Setting it all off was J. Pinder, from Sportn' Life, who warmed up the young crowd at this all-ages event with tracks from his up-coming album "Back Pack Theory." J. Pinder was followed by a short guest appearance from Live Wire (NYC) of the Hip Hop Project. (If you haven't yet checked a screening of the Hip Hop Project, you can catch it next Tuesday, the 8th at AMC Uptown Cinemas in Seattle). However, things really lit up when Sportn' Life's Fatal Lucciauno hit the spotlight. With his plain hoodie concealing a neck full of chains, and his shouts out to his mama and sister in the crowd, Fatal boasted an irresistible charisma on the stage that was amplified by his power-packed performance. Fatal Lucciauno's debut album "The Only Forgotten Son" hits the stores this summer.
As the crowd grew, so did energy in the building, and by the time Parker Brothaz from the Union Block Teamsters took their spot in the limelight, it was officially on and cracking. So deliciously hood with it, the duo puts a 206 twist on crunk and hyphie, redefining what you thought was Northwest flavor. The Parkers' tracks are laced with style, wit, and contagious braggadocio. One my favorites from the set was "Hoodoptalistic," a freshcoast remake of the Outkast classic that had the crowd wildin'. If you don't pick up a copy of "Play Your Position 6" featuring the Parker Brothaz at www.myspace.com/therealparkerbrothaz, you are most definitely missing!
The evening reached a peak with Dyme Def, a group of young emcees from Soul Guerilla who are rapidly becoming Seattle Hip Hop favorites across the board. With their vitality, spitfire delivery, and banging production from Bean One, the trio boasts the kind of stage show that keeps an audience wildin'. Tracks from their new album "Space Music" are a marriage of audacity and mic mastery, broad-based commercial appeal met with the undeniable skills of authentic emceeing. Check 'em for yourselves at www.myspace.com/defdyme.
Although younger folks at the show began trickling off around midnight, undoubtedly because of school the next morning, the hundred-some people who remained were blessed with an impressive finale by Sportn' Life's crown jewel and Co-CEO, D. Black. Before the beat even dropped, the "Teflon Don," had the crowd chanting his name and throwing up Sportn' Life "L's." But it isn't the lights, the dramatic intro music, the fog machine, or the slick 'fit (dark sunglasses and a black shirt adorned with golden marijuana leaves) that makes Black's stage presence so demanding. The aura of confident superstardom D. Black emanates commands the attention of the crowd, and his rock-solid stage show full of favorites from his album "The Cause and Effect," seals the deal. Plus he wrote a whole hook about how you can't f*** wit him. For more information on D. Black and other Sportn' Life artists and releases, visit www.sportnlife.net.
In a time where the Don Imus incident has hood-fabulous Hip Hop facing an all-out assault from both mainstream media and old-guard Hip Hop cultural preservationists, and even Russell Simmons is recommending censorship of the "misogynistic words 'bitch' and 'ho,'" as well as the N-bomb, Swagger Fest was a reminder that it's not all about controlling content when it comes to mitigating the impact of artistic expression in pop culture. Yes, there was some glorified materialism, arrogance, some unflattering commentary on promiscuous young women, and some harsh realities of Seattle's hoods, plagued by drugs, guns, and gang violence reflected in the music, but the undeniable positive energy and sense of pride and community in the building that night trumps all claims that artists that speak on such are irresponsible and unaccountable to their audience. For example, Sportn' Life Record's notable success with connecting to their audiences through not just shows but events like community barbeques and smaller gatherings, are not solely marketing devices but rather are very deliberate efforts to cultivate a sense of family in the scene. Spearhead of Union Block Teamsters, the Ghetto Prez serves on the Public Defender's Association board, is a volunteer firefighter, and routinely speaks to youth in classrooms.
In the words of Fearce Villain from Dyme Def, "Hip Hop can only be done one way, and that's from the heart." We don't need voices censored in Hip Hop, we need the commercial corporations' waning chokehold on the game fully squashed and replaced with a thriving, diverse, independent music industry that authentically stems from the source of Hip Hop, the community. We need Northwest artists to sell thirty-plus thousand records on the regular in their own backyards. We need the media to stop reacting to words used by mainstream artists, and start creating local celebrities that have both the power and accessibility to influence our youth in a positive way, even if their content is controversial. So Seattle, damn what they sayin', and get cha swagger on…..
Seattle Hip Hop Demands Media Justice
While mainstream media and the hip hop press have been scrambling to respond to Don Imus, the Seattle Hip Hop community has focused its attention on cultivating more lasting, structural changes in the struggle towards media justice. In late March, 206 Zulu and Reclaim the Media hosted a NW Hip Hop Community Town Hall to address the FCC Payola Settlement in late March, and to develop a statement of response. Drawing upon Universal Zulu Nation's Bring Back the Balance Campaign, the 2004 Seattle Statement on Radio, and Youth Media Council's report "Is KMEL the Real People's Station?" participants identified four areas to prioritize in organizing enforcement efforts. We will move to ensure that:
1) High quality local artists are not given the backseat to national artists when it comes to radio airplay.
2) Local youth run Hip Hop organizations such as 206 Zulu, Seattle Youth Council, the Think Big Foundation, and Seattle Urban Debate League get access to radio airwaves for outreach and community education
3) The presence of relevant public affairs/news be available in hip hop programming so local issues impacting youth such as police brutality, gentrification, and violence can be addressed in a widely accessible public forum
4) The impact of negative, repetitive messaging delivered to youth through mainstream Hip Hop be mitigated by the presence of local artists who have a better understanding of local issues and a higher level of accountability to the audience.
This project is a continuing effort with a two tiered focus of 1) increasing the visibility and capacity of those independent urban outlets that already adhere to these principles and 2) holding corporate media outlets accountable to the common good they are supposed to serve. Our next steps on this project are to define measurables for each of the four areas. Big ups to folks from Odd Fellas, 4BC Musik, Highline Community College, Pusher Promotions, Worldwide Confined, Seattle University, Seattle Urban Debate League, Think Big Foundation, The Temple of Hip Hop, Music Inner City, KBCS, Silent Lambs Project, and Mel Hart Enterprises who were there. For more information on media justice in the Northwest check out www.reclaimthemedia.org. On how to get down with this project, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note from Editor: Save Internet Radio! The final decision of the three judges that make up the Copyright Royalty Board may not be so final. Their heavily disputed decision to drastically increase internet radio rates has come up against some democratic resistance. Reps. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., and Donald Manzullo, R-Ill., on Thursday introduced the Internet Radio Equality Act. You have helped get the fight for the small broadcaster to the house. Please continue to support this timely legislation by visiting www.Savenetradio.org and getting your reps to co-sponsor.
Union Block Teamsters Update
Seattle's first Hip Hop artist union, the Union Block Teamsters are on a roll. Their logo has been finalized, so be on the look out for posters and T-shirts, as well as a compilation album. In the meantime, the Teamsters have been performing, promoting, and doing radio interviews all across the state. Do4Self Records opened for 2 Live Crew in Yakima, Washington, Gator opened for Twister in Spokane, Washington, and the collective will soon be opening for Yung Buck. In addition, Union Block Teamsters have launched their DVD project, which will include videos from Do4Self and Parka Brothaz, as well as interviews with union members, local DJs, and other "industry tastemakers." Ghetto Prez of Sea-Sick Productions, who spearheads the Teamsters Union, says the DVD is a way to cultivate personal connections between the artists and their audience. "It's more than just listening to the songs," he says, "we get into their personal characters." The DVD project is also bigger than the Teamsters, the Prez asserts. "It's about supporting the local scene, getting DJs some exposure." Be on the look out for both the compilation album and DVD this summer. The Union Block Teamsters meet Thursday nights at Vito's. For more information email email@example.com.
Read more: http://www.myspace.com/juliec206/blog#ixzz11mWOwdHq