Hip Hop Summit addresses community issues through 'edu-tainment'

Chris Harris believes there is hope for the youths of Columbus, and it’s all about showing them a better way.

That’s why the 23-year-old Columbus resident will participate in the 8th Annual Hip Hop Summit, which will be held Saturday, at the historic Liberty Theatre, 813 Eighth Ave. The day-long event, organized by Project Rebound Inc., will focus on teaching young people how to use their talents to benefit the community and not tear it down, said Harris, who will co-host the summit along with Najah Hud.

It will begin at 10 a.m., and culminate at 7 p.m. with a talent showcase. This year’s summit will be a special tribute to the late Tupac Shakur, the famous actor and rapper killed in a 1996 drive-by shooting.

“We are analyzing Tupac Shakur’s impact on hip-hop because Tupac had many different sides to him,” said J. Aleem Hud, executive director of Project Rebound Inc. “Many people don’t realize that Tupac was also chairman of the New Afrikan Panther Party.

"He also was a leader in getting young people involved in the political process and, of course, he was one of the early hip-hop artists that was doing music as well as movies as well as being a spokesman for his generation.”

In addition to performances by a variety of hip-hop artists, the event will also include two panel discussions. One titled “Is Gangster Rap Hip Hop?” and the second, “Is the Hip Hop Business Heaven or Hell?”

Other issues that will be addressed include unemployment, drugs and entrepreneurial opportunities for artists.

Harris said the summit will attempt to counteract negative “gangsta rap” messages children are exposed to these days.“They’re listening to the music and watching the movies, and they want to emulate that,” he said. “But they don’t realize what happens at the end of every movie. Everybody dies, or everybody goes to jail.”

“I’ve seen it a thousand times,” he said. “I feel this Hip Hop Summit is so big and if we could accomplish more things like this in the black community, it would change a lot.”

J. Aleem Hud said the annual event provides “edu-tainment” for youths in the community, focusing on both education and entertainment. He said it will promote nonviolence, clean lyrics and entrepreneurship.

The event will include the annual Liberty District Produce and Crafts Marketplace, and “kidpreneurs,” ages 3 to 18, are encouraged to participate. Vendor registration will begin at 10 a.m.

Admission to the summit is free, but the organization is requesting $10 donations for the talent showcase. For more information contact Project Rebound at 706-221-4830.