The U.S. Army's Hip-Hop Tour

The Source Magazine

and the U.S. Army have teamed up together to create “The Source Campus

Combat - Ultimate MC Battle Tour 2003.” This tour, featuring headlining

performance artists such as Memphis Bleek, Nappy Roots and Black Moon, is both

a usual and unusual event.

It is usual in

the sense that it allows college students the opportunity to come out and watch

their favorite artists perform, as well as compete in an “ultimate MC battle”

to be featured as The Source Magazine’s next “Unsigned Hype.”

However, what makes

this tour “unusual” is that it also gives students the opportunity

to do something you would not normally do at a Hip Hop event - register for

the U.S. Army.

You must be asking

yourself, “Why would the U.S. Army and The Source Magazine team up?”

Well, here’s the deal. U.S. Army representatives say that the number of

African-Americans enlisted in the U.S. Army is decreasing. This lack of African-American

representation appears to be a major concern. Therefore, the U.S. Army is looking

to recruit more African-Americans into its service.

By combining the

two entities, it gives each one the opportunity to attract its intended targeted

audience. U.S. Army Senior Project Manager Lincoln Parker states, “We are

organically integrating the U.S. Army message into Hip Hop culture, to effectively

communicate the benefits and values of an army experience to a targeted audience.”

Some of those “benefits

and values” Parker speaks of are education, lifestyle and health benefits,

career opportunities and enlistment incentives. According to Parker, “The

U.S. Army feels there goal is to assist African-Americans in developing productive

opportunities for better direction in their lives…As compared to a college

or trade school, the U.S. Army presents opportunities for development, education

and growth.”

Many of the artists

and participants in the event agreed to all the great benefits the U.S. Army

can provide its soldiers. As participants of “Project Salute 2003”

(i.e., a tour that paid tribute to the U.S. Coalition and Armed forces) Atlantic

recording artists Nappy Roots are definitely no strangers when it comes to supporting

the U.S. Troops. Having toured and visited such cities around the world like

Kuwait and Baghdad, Nappy Roots have a very universal outlook on the impact

Hip Hop culture has had on the U.S., its Army and the world.

When asked their

feelings about The Source/U.S. Army collaboration, Nappy Roots responded, “Music

is growing for all of us…the world is based around a beat/a tempo of situations…it

shows growth and development across the board about where we are going with

this Hip Hop culture.” Of course, there is always a flip side to this issue.

Although all of the artists mentioned shared their support for the troops, many

agreed that the down side to joining the U.S. Army is the possibility of a soldier

having to go to war.

When asked his

thoughts on the U.S. Army/Source Magazine collaboration, Roc-A-Fella recording

artist Memphis Bleek responded, “It’s a double edged sword here…Soldiers

get paid minimum wage…And they go out there and risk their lives on the

line. However, there’s a lot of kids who don’t have education in the

Hip Hop community, and if [the army] is going to take those kids and put them

through school to get an education, then yeah, I’m all for it.” Duckdown

recording artists Black Moon stated, “It was positive that [the U.S. Army]

put itself in a situation where they thought about Boot Camp (Black Moon’s

affiliation). The army participating in Hip Hop is a good thing, plus it gives

us the opportunity for exposure…As long as they are supportive of themselves

and of Hip Hop, then we give love to them.”

While the U.S.

Army was preoccupied with enlisting new recruits, The Source Magazine was busy

enlisting participants in its “Ultimate MC Battle.” Between artists’

performances, talented, yet unknown Hip Hop artists got the chance to battle

one another for 60 seconds, while the crowd and judges watched on to find out

and determine who would be the last emcee standing.

Laura Houser, the

participant otherwise known as “Emcee Miss Me” held it down as the

only female in the competition. Surprisingly, she said that this was the first

time she had ever rapped her lyrics “out loud to an audience.” When

asked if she was nervous, she replied, “Yeah, I’m just trying to keep

a free state of mind and let my work flow out.” She battled it out to the

final round against her male competitors “Seezmics,” “Poly Rock”

and “K - Cromozone.” However, the determined winner in the end was

none other than Cole Policy, known to his audience as Emcee “Seezmics,”

of the hip hop group “The Educated Consumers.” The crowd determined

his win as he pulled more “Oohs” and “Ahs” from the audience.

When asked how

he felt about his win, he said, “I’ve been rhyming for nine years,

and I’ve been in a couple hundred battles, so, I don’t get nervous.

I never think I’m gonna do poorly. So, if a person beats me, then it happens,

but that didn’t happen today.”

Overall, “The

Source Campus Combat - Ultimate MC Battle Tour 2003” held at University

of Maryland proved to be a positive event. All of the artists who performed

that night gave their fans a great show, and, of course, they each got the opportunity

to promote their latest and/or upcoming albums.

Memphis Bleek has

a new album coming out December 16th, entitled, “M.A.D.E.,” which

is an acronym that stands for “Money Attitude Direction Education.”

Black Moon’s new album “Total Eclipse” is out now. The final

performance of the evening, was given by Nappy Roots, whose latest album is

entitled “Wooden Leather.” The tour gives unknown talent the opportunity

to be featured in The Source Magazine’s legendary “Unsigned Hype”

column. It allows African-American/Urban youth the opportunity to learn about

the benefits and values the U.S. Army could possibly provide them with. Finally,

it provided college students with good entertainment and fun.