Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
This past Saturday I was a guest speaker at the AFA’s (Ant Farm Affiliates) second annual Hip-Hop Summit at Westhill High School in Stamford, CT. The day was filled with workshops that included emcees mentoring students on the arts of songwriting, battling and freestyling, panel discussions that featured legendary emcee Chubb Rock and Stronghold’s Breez Evahflowin, and performances both by the artists who were doing the mentoring as well as some of the students. Through having conversations with the young men and women there, hearing their questions, seeing their reactions to the performances and seeing them do their own thing on stage, I have to say that Hip-Hop’s future looks brighter than ever.
The first sign that something special was happening on this afternoon was that over a hundred students showed up at school on a Saturday. Inspired to actually go back to campus on a weekend, these young Hip-Hop fans were looking to soak up any information given to them about the culture. In fact, during a question and answer segment I was impressed with the concerns the students came to us with. In an open forum it takes some guts to ask “why do older artists look down on us?” To the credit of the artists, fantastic answers were given to every question asked. At one point Chubb Rock not only gave a history lesson, but schooled everyone as to who was really making money in the industry, noting that Raven-Symone was selling more albums than Beyonce, a statistic that shocked the vast majority of the crowd, including some of the other panelists. Later a question was asked regarding the lack of women on the stage and Othello from d_Cyphernauts mentioned my “Where The Ladies At?” blog post and let me give some answers.
The live performances capped off the day and did so in impressive fashion. It should be noted that all of these young people that so many so-called Hip-Hop fans claim are brainwashed and don’t know anything about the culture embraced all the underground artists wholeheartedly, which is much more than I can say for your average older fan attending to a show. They rushed the stage, jumped up and down and reached out for high fives. The crowd was so hype, in fact, that Hawl Digg of Workforce decided to jump into it for a minute during his performance.
Smiles were plentiful as these 100+ young men and women were there to see some Hip-Hop, even if they didn’t know who all of the artists were. Note to everyone who goes to shows – this is how it always should be! We could all learn a lesson and take a cue from these younger fans and start showing up at the bars and clubs we go to for events with that same attitude of just wanting to see some Hip-Hop and being excited about it. It’s funny, a lot of people who claim to be Hip-Hop fans really aren’t. They go to shows with a negative attitude, wanting the artist to prove something to them. These stone faced, “I hope this guy sucks,” types fill up clubs and deem themselves some kind of expert, claiming to appreciate the art form “on a higher level.” That’s a load of horse dookie. We’ve all been guilty of it, I know I have in the past, but what higher level is there than going to a show to enjoy yourself and then enjoying yourself?
The good times continued when the students hit the stage. Breez and I both commented on how much more advanced the next generation of artists are at 15 and 16 than anyone from our generation was at that age. One group featured a full band and midway through a song titled “Don’t Shoot The Gorilla” had a guy in a gorilla suit join them on stage. Talk about a sight to behold! The place erupted with cheers. In fact, all of the students supported each other, which was great to see.
All in all, the AFA’s second annual Hip-Hop Summit proved Hip-Hop’s future is in capable hands (and notebooks). The only way things could be derailed is if the older generations, mine included, choose to ignore the questions, comments and concerns of our future MCs, DJs and producers. So if you’re an established artist, take a few minutes to converse with some of the aspiring future leaders of Hip-Hop, you might be surprised at how quickly someone can go from looking up at you to looking up to you.