"I really think that this is the year things turn around for the slowly declining annual event." So wrote Kyle Myhre more than a week ago in reference to the Hip Hop as a Movement week kicking off Friday, Apr. 13.
Held annually every spring throughout the UW campus and downtown Madison under the auspices of a variety of student organizations, the conference combines musical, spoken word and dance performances with presentations, discussions and activism.
One goal through the entire series, as noted in a press release sent by Myhre this afternoon, is to provide "a unique opportunity for area youth, UW students, educators, activists and community members to engage in dialogue about hip hop, a culture that is all-too-often misrepresented and misunderstood, particularly in Madison."
Running from that Friday the 13th through Saturday, Apr. 21, the conference schedule includes film screenings, MC and dance battles, spoken word slams, a talent show, and no shortage of concerts. One of these will feature The Coup, who will perform along with the all-female crew Anomolies, Culture Shock Camp, and Big Quarters on the UW Memorial Union Terrace on Thursday, Apr. 19, as fitting a start to the outdoor music season as any.
Another high-profile participants is the "Godfather of Hip-Hop" Afrika Bambaataa, who is hosting a party the following night (Apr. 20) with DJ Scrump Boogs in the Memorial Union Great Hall. This marks a return visit to the conference for the hip-hop legend, who appeared at the inaugural conference in the spring of 2000 (as noted in The Nation).
Other highlights noted by Myhre, a conference organizer, include a youth justice and empowerment conference titled Stop the Rail to Jail, the fourth annual "Breakin' the Law" international dance battle for b-boys and b-girls, and hip-hop education conference led by Elements of Change and Kiddo Publishing (home of the Figureheads).
Held as the spring semester windd down at the UW, the conference is serving as something of a capstone for the Line Breaks series of performances and discussions hosted by visiting artist and scholar Marc Bamuthi Joseph.
"It's really youth-oriented now, lots of community involvement, a wide range of stuff going on," Myhre noted. "It's definitely not perfect, but I think it'll be a good base for the coalition."
More information about this year's Hip Hop as a Movement week can be found on its MySpace page, with the full conference schedule is available in the related downloads at right.