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
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,
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."