The second day of the Is Hip-Hop History? Conference featured a keynote address by Dax-Devlon Ross, Esq. who is also a poet and writer of fiction as well as non-fiction. He compared “the battle” between Nas and Jay-Z to creative conflicts between other complex African-American icons, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
Ross also shared his view that some journalists harbor deep-seated resentment toward successful young black men and perpetuate negative stereotypes about the hip-hop culture in their writing. Specifically, he noted that some editorial reviews of “Watch The Throne” by Jay-Z and Kanye West fixated on the claim that the duo is leading the youth astray
with their excessively materialistic lyrics.
However, some of these critics don’t enthusiastically praise or even support the conscious hip-hop artists who rhyme about the social issues that plague both people of color and the nation as a whole, Ross continued.
In fact, some of these critics go out of their way to compliment Arabic hip-hop artists for their courage in making music about fighting for their people’s liberty from violent Middle Eastern dictators. In comparison, urban American hip hop, Ross says, is portrayed in a negative light by some journalists.
Dax-Devlon Ross on Nas & Jay-Z, African American Icons
Warren Orange asks his signature question — “Who are your top 3 MCs’”
Henry Chalfant, photographer, videographer and producer of “Style Wars” a documentary about the early years of graffiti writing in New York City, spoke about how he got started photographing graffiti on the NYC transit system and how he came to be trusted by the graffiti artists, most of whom were half his age at the time, who used subway trains as their canvases to express their artistic creativity. Chalfant also spoke about other projects he’s currently working on such as restoring the original “Style Wars” film and converting it to a high definition Blue-Ray version.
Henry Chalfant on “Style Wars”
Jun Nunez talked about the large impact his older brother had on his life as an active participant in the hip-hop culture while growing up in New York City. Nunez, who is a freelance graphic designer with Cabeza Press, said even if he’s doing a non-hip-hop project the tell-tale signature of hip-hop can be seen in his work regardless of what it is.
Dr. Emery M. Petchauer (aka DJ Ill-Literate), Assistant Professor of Education, Lincoln University is an academic but without a doubt a real hip-hop head who knows hip-hop history and continues to be immersed in the culture. Petchauer talked about using battle tactics in various situations to ensure you’re entering from a position of strength. Simply by observing, assessing and predicting others’ actions/reactions allows for a tactical advantage.
Warren Orange, Academic Advisor CCNY and Hip-Hop connoisseur was a co-organizer of the conference. He kept the mood light and humorous with his signature question that he asked each of the speakers during the Q & A portion: “name your top 3 MC’s”. It was evident on Day 1 that Orange had a particular bias toward a particular MC, not only that but he expected every speaker to name that MC as their number one.
btw if you don’t know, lets just say he’s the fiend of the microphone, he’s the microphone fiend.
Elena Romero, Academic Advisor CCNY, author of “Free Stylin’: How Hip Hop Changed the Fashion Industry” and co-organizer of the conference. Elena was a good moderator and kept the conference on track and flowing smoothly.
In my opinion the 3rd Annual Is Hip-Hop History? Conference was a great success. The speakers were very knowledgeable and experts in their respective fields. They presented interesting and thought provoking information.
- It was great to hear Pete Rock talk about breaking into his cousin’s house to DJ on their equipment while no one as home and getting chewed-out when they eventually got home.
- Dax-Devlon Ross was able to articulate some of the hypocrisy we feel a lot of the times when journalists and others in the media talk about the hip-hop culture.
- “Style Wars” had a huge impact on me while growing up. Being a DJ, I really identified with the film’s sound track. Particularly, the Rammellzee track “Beat Bop” that was playing while Crazy Legs danced in the movie. It was very interesting to hear some of the things that were happening behind the scenes and how Henry Chalfant got to meet a lot of the writers and the Rock Steady Crew.
- Emery M. Petchauer‘s speech was quite intriguing, his knowledge of hip-hop and some of his experiences that he shared with the audience at the conference took me by surprise. We all have preconceived ideas based on people’s appearances and I expected an academic speech from an observer’s perspective. But what I got was an in-depth speech and accurate hip-hop history from an active participant living the culture.
And to answer the question “Is Hip Hop History?” – Hells No!
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