With performers dressed as rapper Nicki Minaj and pop artist Michael Jackson, the old and the new were well represented Saturday during the Hip-Hop Summit at the Liberty Theatre in Columbus.
The event at the historic theater gave young artists a chance to perform and learn more about the origins of hip-hop, said J.A. Hud, CEO of Project Rebound and the sponsor of the event. The summit also included a block party from 4-6 p.m. on Eighth Avenue followed by a talent show at the Liberty.
“This is the perfect venue for us to discuss what type of entertainment, what type of cultural future we are going to have,” Hud said. “This is what the Liberty Theatre is all about. It’s not about parties, not just doing something arbitrarily.”
Afrika Bambaataa was called the “Godfather” of hip-hop as an emerging culture in the 1980s. Hip-hop included four elements of music of DJs, lyricism and poetry of emcees, dancing of boys and girls and graffiti art.
Hud described the gathering as therapeutic. “We are going to start by not letting the corporate giants who want to create conflict to sell more records,” he said in reference to certain types of music. “We are going to decide what we want to be a part of our future.”
Hud said many children are hopeless, anti education, prone to bullying, violence and crime. “Why? This is what they are exposed to,” he said. “We have to change that.”
Some people only see young black men on TV shooting somebody, robbing or gang banging. “This is the image that the people in Idaho and Oregon have,” he said. “That is not who we are.”
Wearing a red wig, Scarlett Flame, 9, was excited about the summit. “I am like the Nicki Minaj character,” she said before the program started.
Clyde Dynomite, 25, said he was there to bring some hip-hop and perform other kinds of music like gospel rap, R&B, and pop.
Marcus G., a 22-year-old singer, said he’s performing a summertime song called “Hop Down Status. In Columbus, Ga., it’s what we might say when we want to go and talk to a young lady,” he said.
Mark Davis, director of Family Strengthening at WIN in Baltimore, brought 11 people to the summit.
After hip-hop was labeled, Davis noted how parties would sometime get riled up in the parks but Bambaataa made it a positive culture. “Some how, it got lost along the way,” he said. “We forgot the element of just having fun. Battling is a part of the culture, but battling to hurt each other wasn’t their original intent.” It was Ok to out rap, out paint a person with graffiti or out spin.
“Competition fosters excellence,” he said. “It brings the best out of us when we compete with others doing something great.”