Scrolling through our social media feeds, we often find things that interest us, whether it is a status from some old soul dropping gems, pictures of a dope new shoe collabo, or the flyer to an event hosted by any of our local favorites. There is always something to explore. But when a post stating, “Hip-Hop Week MKE...Common Council Support” (or something of that nature) flashes before your eyes, you stop everything!
“Who is responsible for this!?!”
Has the “culture” really found its way into City Hall? Is this actually a “real” thing, or a scheme?
CopyWrite sat down with Milwaukee’s 7th District, to get the word, on what’s really going down with Milwaukee Hip-Hop Week and what the initiative means for our community as a whole.
Putting Milwaukee Hip-Hop Week on the agenda is a no-brainer from Alderman Rainey’s perspective. As a fan of Hip-Hop, he claims that having conversations about it and understanding the culture is indeed “a part of the lifestyle.”
Some have heard the news, and it has left them a little standoffish about government being involved in its cultivation. Rainey cues us in on the slight politics that will aid in Milwaukee Hip-Hop Weeks hopeful success:
“Well the only involvement the City of Milwaukee really has in regards to the politics of it is, it has to go through an actual approval process by the common council to create an (official) week in the city.” Making it an official city week engages the community and grants more opportunities to highlight hip-hop culture as it is celebrated.
Ald. KR: “We want to celebrate the culture. We understand for some who may be ignorant of what hip-hop is or some who may rely on what the mainstream media presents hip-hop as, they may have a misconception of hip-hop. But for those of us who are a product of hip-hop, have experienced it, and have been inspired by it, we want to give them an opportunity to learn [from it].”
For Milwaukee Hip-Hop Week, which is scheduled to begin on August 27th, 2018, there will be a focus on three major tenets, to cultivate the thematic opportunity of cultural knowledge exchange: Financial Literacy, Health, Civic Engagement.
Ald. KR: “What I envision is creating a framework within the context of hip-hop, where we can have some really important conversations.”
Ald. Rainey mentions that in regards to health, the age of the hip-hop community now includes members in their 50’s. This means the spectrum of health risks, including but not limited to obesity, colon cancer, and high blood pressure, is in fact hampering the lifestyle of many. He notes that there has been a cultural shift, where major hip-hop industry influencers like Jermaine Dupri, Slim Thug, Common, and The Game have been documented parting ways with destructive health choices and promoting positive alternative lifestyles. (Check out the documentary, Feel Rich: Health is the New Wealth (2017) narrated by Quincy Jones III, to catch that perspective.)
Ald. KR: “As a culture and generation, we went from cats talking about drinking 40’s and smoking on the corner to cats actually meditating and being vegan. Still flowing though. You know what I’m sayin’? It’s been an evolution. People have grown as hip-hop has grown.”
One idea is to use this same ideology here in MKE, where there are true health issues like high obesity rates, and where food deserts have created a disconnect with healthy eating to show documentaries (like the one mentioned above) and host conversations to improve the hip-hop community’s wellness.
Talking Financial Literacy, Ald. Rainey notes one of the points he brought up at the Community & Economic Development Committee meeting (where CW was in attendance).
Ald. KR: “...mumble rappers or super lyrical rappers, it does not matter how they rap, they are talking about money. We are talking about being prosperous, comin’ up. One way or another that type of mentality is infused and weaved into your rhymes.”
With that being a part of the hip-hop “mantra”, Rainey believes that setting up opportunities where we can discuss “money moves” like cryptocurrency (a growing market in the eyes of hip-hop advocates like Nipsey Hussle) and stock markets with brokers can increase the quest for wealth, which is vital to this community’s future success. Here the importance of even exposing the community to local resources, like Kiva, can elevate the opportunity for small business (yes, the ones that are a part of the hip-hop community) to level up the grind.
The third tenet, Civic Engagement, covers a wide spectrum, but one of the most important components Alderman Rainey would like to address is voter registration.
He notes that hip-hop artists as of late, have been very vocal about their political perspectives, especially on the presidency. This creates an opportunity for others to express their voices.
Ald. KR: “Right now is the time that we galvanize the people...and share these outlooks and say let’s do something about it...let’s take that same energy and connect it to things going on locally as well.”
The Civic Engagement tenet also opens the door to have major conversations about violence in our community, where the platform for young people and the institutions who are working on these peace incentives have an open forum discussing the issues (pushing the people and not just the numbers).
Ald. KR: “Milwaukee Hip-Hop Week has the opportunity through civic engagement to effect change socially.”
Just the conversation of having Milwaukee Hip-Hop Week has prompted members of MKE’s growing “underground” hip-hop community to come to the table. At the same Community & Economic Development Committee meeting mentioned before, rappers, producers, videographers, non-profit organization leaders, directors of public offices, artists, press, and the like, showed up to city hall to voice their support for the week and its future impact.
Ald. KR: “It’s an important opportunity to assemble something that brings together people...a bunch of people who were in there had never been to city hall before and that’s powerful to me...I think we have to create more opportunities for the unusual suspects to [be a part of the conversation]. To tap into people who are a-political and make them excited and engaged.”
Side Note: This year in Hip-Hop, a freestyle session broke out in MKE city hall and we have the footage! #ForTheCulture
Even though the week allots for conversations about heavier topics, Ald. Rainey assures us that the five elements of Hip-Hop (MC’ing, DJ’ing, graffiti art, B-boy dance and knowledge), will not be ignored.
Ald. KR: “I just want to have a whole lineup of activities. I want you to look at Hip-Hop Week and be like ‘Damn I missed something.’ But I also want you to break your neck to get to everything too.” He laughed, insistently.
MKE Hip-Hop week is on the theoretical tract to making major waves. In hopes of getting everybody in on the action, planning will highly consider every side of the city, so all communities have access to the celebration of one of the most influential cultures, worldwide. (Look at Nielsen’s 2017 music report...Hip-Hop is out chea’.)
CW: “So you have covered a lot of things here and all of these things sound great. So how are we making sure we include our local artists (and Hip-Hop movement contributors) into the mix? They want to be a part of this and this is their city so they should be.”
Ald. KR: [Following that the week is officially passed by the Common Council, which as of just yesterday February 27th, 2018, it was approved unanimously] “...after that, we have to set up some kind of advisory board that includes people in the community who have value” - And insight into what’s going on out here? *wink wink*
So Milwaukee here is the moment we have been waiting for. Here is the opportunity to shine a positive light on the scene and have some conversations that are way overdue. Where the revolution may not be televised, we guarantee it will be publicized. (Corporate America and the “other” will have their hand in this too. Local big business will be asked to partake...and of course, it is in their best interest that they do.) *This is the moment where we are supposed to digress...Ha!
As Ald. Rainey has become the “spokesperson” for this important initiative, he holds the scrutiny of its authenticity in his hands.
Ald. KR: “I would love for someone to come challenge me on my hip-hop validity. We live this.”
AND WE DO TOO!
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