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Detroit Hip Hop Summit: Wrap Up

The Detroit Hip Hop Summit is over. Like every

24-hour day, April 26, 2003 had to end at midnight. But the feelings can last

a lifetime. The dialogue sparked at the historic event can create sweeping change

to echo around the world.

It is obvious the enormous power that hip-hop

holds, economically, musically, politically, and on. Hip-Hop has power, we know

it, and now it is okay to say that we have it and we will use it. But what are

we going to do with it?

That was one of many questions Detroit Hip Hop

Summit panelists attempted to answer during NAACP Freedom Weekend. The Summit

was just a part of a weekend full of exciting activities. On Friday, Detroit’s

Mayor, 32-year old Kwame Kilpatrick, kicked off the weekend with a black tie

reception.

Tickets sold for $500 per person with all of

the proceeds being donated to charity. Shady Records sponsored the reception.

Numerous rap artists were in attendance; including Shady artists D12, and Obie

Trice and a late evening appearance by Eminem himself.

During the Mayor’s reception, another hot party

was taking place just blocks away. The Phat Farm Footwear Launch party attracted

hundreds of partygoers, who sipped Hypnotiq all evening. Guests danced to the

sounds of one of Detroit’s most popular DJ’s, DJ Fingers, who played a lot of

old-school, and of course a lot of Run-DMC.

Russell and Rev. Run arrived at the party just

prior to midnight. The entrance of the legendary Simmons Brothers excited the

crowd; neither confined themselves to the VIP area, preferring to mingle on

the main floor. At midnight, every single person in attendance received a pair

of Phat Farm shoes, a Detroit Hip Hop Summit T-shirt, and a Baby Phat baby tee.

On Saturday, the Detroit Hip Hop Summit began

with the first session panel comprised of industry heavyweights, locally, nationally,

and internationally.

Paul Rosenberg (Eminem’s manager), KJ Holliday

(Program Director, WJLB), Toya Hankins (Manager of Motown Recording Artist,

Kem), Khary Turner (Acclaimed Detroit writer and poet), Mark & Jeff Bass

(WEB Entertainment), Joe Buddens (Artist, Def Jam) Rob Love (Def Jam), and Doug

E. Fresh (Crowd Rocker Extraordinaire), T3 of Slum Village, Obie Trice, Proof,

Kuniva, and Bizarre of D12, represented Detroit hip-hop on the panel along with

Russell Simmons, moderated by the legendary, MC Serch, and Hip Hop Summit Action

Network President, Dr. Ben (Chavis) Muhammad.

The first session, "IT’S NOT A GAME!"

Discussed Hip-Hop’s Economic Impact. Panelists stressed the importance of education.

"How can you claim to love something, and

want to do it as your career for the rest of your life, but not study it,"

Russell Simmons asked the crowd. Various empowerment tools were displayed as

keys to African-Americans, "working poor" and have to pay exorbitant

fees for check-cashing service. Alternative services similar to the "Rush

Card", which only costs the user $1, were displayed.

On the topic of the rap industry itself, panelists

answered a lot of questions on their own experiences, and their stories on how

they got into the music industry. Doug E. Fresh spoke about being rejected by

record companies for his now classic, often-imitated, never-duplicated "beat

box" skill on songs with Slick Rick, like "The Show."

To most Detroit hip-hop artists, the Summit itself

was a dream come true, an amazing experience that further validates the city

as a new "hub for hip hop music & culture."

With the presence of over 200 camera crews, the

message resounds around the world. For many it seemed that after Motown Records

left the city 30 years ago, that music in the city stopped. The Detroit Hip

Hop Summit celebrated the remix of the Motown Sound in hip-hop music and culture.

On the subject of Detroit radio, Obie Trice asked the question of why Detroit

underground artists "don’t get the same love on Detroit radio" as

other cities show their artists. The crowd erupted with applause.

Detroit radio, especially Clear Channel’s WJLB,

the official sponsors of the event, in the past have been accused of ignoring

Detroit independent artists, even being picketed at one point in 2001. In fact,

the station did not play Trice’s most recent buzz single, "Rap Name".

Although, they will no doubt add his next single directly into their play list.

The response from KJ Holliday, Program Director,

is that WJLB does have a feature called the "New Music Report" which

plays a song from an independent Detroit artist, hip-hop or R&B, three times

a week during Serch in The Am with CoCo and Foolish, and that the song is repeated

on Bushman’s show later the same evening.

"The power is (again) in the numbers, if

people call and request that song after it airs, it will make rotation."

The "New Music Report" has only been in effect for the six months

that MC Serch has been in Detroit.

Panelists also answered questions from the audience.

The most popular question was, "How do I get on?" "Patience and

perseverance," were the most common answers. "Everything I ever really

wanted to do took a lot longer than I planned." Russell Simmons told the

crowd. "Stick to your dreams and have patience."

The second session, Hip-Hop’s Political Impact,

discussed political impact with panelists who included, Eminem, Min. Dawud Muhammad,

who’s brief motivational messages play at the end of every Serch in the AM show,

Play of Kid N Play, D.O.C., MC Breed, Nas, N.O.R.E. and Rev. Run.

Run talked about the importance of faith, "Realizing

that God is inside of all us, and is empowering." Eminem and Nas both received

recognition awards from the Detroit Hip Hop Summit and The City of Detroit presented

by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the youngest mayor in America. He presides over the

United States’ tenth largest city.

Following the Summit was a large Poetry Slam/Rap

Battle, featuring some of the area’s hottest talents, and then it was on to

the Def Jam Vendetta Tour at The State Theater.

Redman and Method Man headlined the show which

featured performances by Detroit artists, Rockbottom Ent., Eastside Chedda Boys,

Web Entertainment’s King Gordy who appeared in 8 Mile as Big O, a local rap

star making it big, and Shady Records own, Obie Trice.

Red and Method gave the crowd their customary

hot show, stage-diving included. At the end of the show, Meth jumped and hit

the floor with a bang. The rap star got up laughing. Russell Simmons closed

the show with his most famous line "Thank y’all for coming out. God Bless,

and Good Night."

The hot after party at the Detroit Historical

Museum, ended what was a very long, very exciting day. The Museum was full of

rap stars, and cultural notables, as well as the close-knit Detroit Hip-Hop

Community, which is over 300 members strong.

On Sunday, the Detroit Branch of the NAACP,

the organizations largest branch, held it’s 48th Annual Fight for Freedom Fund

dinner. The event, over 10,000 people, strong is the largest sit-down dinner

in North America.

Esteemed guests included business and industry

giants, political powerhouses from the US Senate and House of Representatives,

Michigan’s first female governor, Jennifer Granholm, Detroit’s Mayor, and Lifetime

Achievement Award reciepient, Russell Simmons, who encouraged the older crowd

to try to understand and embrace hip-hop, equating the movement to the Civil

Rights movement in terms of it’s relevance and power.

The Detroit Hip Hop Summit weekend was all in

all an exciting event for the city, and further validation that Detroit is a

"hub of hip-hop music and culture."

"All while I was coming up, everybody just

wanted to put Detroit back on the map, to have our city be recognized and our

voices heard." Eminem said at the event, "It’s our time."

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