|Hampton University students artwork auctioned at the beginning of the conference|
Hampton University’s School of Liberal Arts hosted the first annual Art of Hip-Hop conference on Feb. 11 - 12. This year’s theme was “Do You Still Love H.E.R (Hearing Every Rhyme)?” The conference extended over the course of two days, with the first being a silent auction built on one of the four tiers of hip-hop, graffiti. The artwork featured many artists who have made a lasting impact on the industry since it began over 40 years ago. Patrons were given the opportunity to listen to hip-hop music from different decades as they enjoyed the work of HU students.
|Honoree Freedom Williams with conference coordinator Ionia Barrett and Dana Hubbard|
Frederick “Freedom” Williams, who attended HU in the late 80’s was chosen to be the honoree of this year’s conference. Freedom Williams is the former front man and co-founder of the international multi-platinum selling group C&C Music Factory. He sold over 8 million records and has written children’s books. He has also written history chapters and screen plays. Honored by receiving his work, Williams spoke to the audience of students on his success and how he struggled to remain humble through the experiences as well as stay connected to his roots, which helped him to become the person he is today.
Day two was full of events and panel discussions targeting the current state of hip-hop and the development of the culture. There were debates on the state of rap and how it ties into the hip-hop community, if at all. Another topic explored was the role of women in the industry and how they have been demoted to being video vixens and degraded subjects of rap lyrics. Radio personalities, Dominique Da Diva and Paris Nicole spoke on their oppositions to how women are viewed within the industry but also maintained their stance that it will always be popular on the radio because it is what sells.
|Hampton University students showcase the evolution of hip hop over the decades|
The panelists were questioned on how we as a community are able to change the views of the public, and who will be the future of hip-hop. “Don’t be afraid to be yourself. It is important that you find out what your purpose is and go for it. Be cautious of what you listen to. Listen responsibly,” said Dominique Da Diva. It all starts with one person, one trailblazer, someone who doesn’t conform to the mainstream view of what hip-hop is.
The conference ended with a showcase of hip-hop through the decades. HU students performed in scenes portraying the evolution of hip-hop. From its origins in the Bronx, NY in the 1970’s engulfing its four tiers, The DJ; The Emcee; Graffiti; and Break Dancing. Hip-hop has always been more than just a genre of music; it is a culture and lifestyle.
-Sechemelia Lewis ‘15
-Daisha Roberts '15