Hip hop is notoriously known for many negative connotations like misogyny, violent lyrics, advocating drug and alcohol use, as well as sexual promiscuity. When you listen to many songs and see images associated with hip hop, those negative aspects come to surface time and time again. So when hip hop showcases a positive spin, that needs to be addressed and shown to the masses as well. In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, "Hip Hop For The Homeless" is the positivity in an otherwise bleak existence within the hip hop realm. The Baltimore hip hop community banded together, in the spirit of the late Bea Gaddy, to shed light and awareness on the homeless plight in America's 21st most populated city.
For a good 72-hour period, "Hip Hop For The Homeless" was collecting canned goods and clothing, all in support of the homeless and less fortunate in the surrounding area. The overall event culminated with a concert on the parking lot of Rim Source, a popular auto accessory spot located at 4810 Belair Road in Northeast Baltimore. 92Q hosted the event, with DJ Lil' Mic providing the sonic backdrop for much of the evening. It was very good seeing the community, especially those involved in hip hop, showing support and giving back. To many times in Baltimore, and similar urban landscapes, you here nothing but despair and negativity when discussing those of the hip hop persuasion. Looking around the vast parking lot area, you could see old and young, male and female, artist and audience, joining together for a common cause during this holiday season. Of course, what was missing from this historic event was the local news media. No Channel 11, no Channel 2, no Channel 13, no Channel 45, just street reporters ready to grace the microphones with tales of troubles and eventual hope.
|HIP HOP FOR THE HOMELESS FOOD DRIVE SIGN|
There were so many artists on the bill, it could have been easy to forget what the event was about, but the organizers made sure to remind everyone that even though hip hop was the soundtrack for the evening, the movie in question was about the plights of those that may go through the holidays without a proper meal or clothing. What made "Hip Hop For The Homeless" a success, at least in theory, was the array of artists willing to give of their time and efforts for one common cause. Starting off the evening was The Bomb Squad, and they provided some lyrical treats for the crowd, making sure that jewels were dropped during their performance. Local hip hop legend Skarr Akbar came through as well, showing all why he is revered as one of Baltimore's dope emcees. A dope female emcee, Crystal, repping Queens, New York as well as Baltimore, also helped throughout the evening with the food drive. She also dropped knowledge and positivity for those in attendance. I had the chance to talk to her about how the hip hop community at large in Baltimore can give back and make a difference. It was good to hear her say that overall, this event was bigger than hip hop, but hip hop has a responsibility to give back. I agreed wholeheartedly with her.
|DJ LIL' MIC|
Al Great and War Zone Snakes had the opportunity to drop their separate brands of Baltimore hip hop on the unsuspecting crowd. Baltimore Ray and Igima performed together, energizing the crowd on the brisk late-fall evening. While mingling throughout the crowd, I noticed Baltimore Hood News on the scene, confirming my earlier comment about "street reporters" being the only news media at the event, but that was fine, because news spreads through the underground like wildfire. Si Notes, voted "Best Female MC" in the Baltimore City Paper, showed the Rim Source crowd why she was deserving of the crown. With a partner in tow, Si Notes captivated the crowd with her flow and charisma. Next on the bill was a treat, the G Boyz, a group of Cecil Elementary School students. They showed confidence and swagger as the crowd at Rim Source cheered them on.
|SUPPORTERS OF THE CAUSE|
Canned foods and gently used clothing poured in throughout the evening, with cars and vans pulling up to the Northeast Baltimore location throughout the evening. Even though there was a party atmosphere, the city showed that it had heart and compassion by showing and proving. Caddy The Don, using his performance as video material, came through with his Baltimore version of "BMF", shouting out Little Melvin and other Baltimore street individuals of years past. Even though it might be misconstrued as negative, given the circumstances of the food drive, you could tell that there was a spirit of redemption within the lyrical content. Even with negativity on the surface, the positive could be seen once you went below that surface. 100 Grandman was next, bringing some reality-based lyrics to the masses.
|GOSPEL HARPIST JEFF MAJORS|
To my surprise, while observing the performance and surveying the crowd, Jeff Majors, the gospel musician and harpist, walked my direction. It was a pleasant surprise, so I introduced myself and noticed his humble, yet powerful demeanor. He was one of the organizers that constructed such a successful event, so it was an honor to be in his presence. I also had the pleasure of speaking briefly with Matthew Rice, known throughout the area as Mateo Blu. Mateo Blu is an artist, recognized for his various portrayals of urban life within his unique artwork. He was gracious enough to donate one of his creations, entitled "Destined". Proceeds from a raffle for the beautiful piece of art went towards "Hip Hop For The Homeless". A lucky winner was chosen at the end of the performances.
Before the end of the charity event, a few others performed, such as Poetic Just/Us, a gospel-flavored singer/emcee/poet, bringing a different flair to "Hip Hop For The Homeless". It was definitely good to see and hear spiritual-based artistry at the event, even if the sound quality during her performance left a little to be desired. As they say, "the devil stayed busy". Charm City C and T Sizzle, Authentic John Doe, D-Boi, and Brodie also showcased material on a local level, garnering crowd support during their respective sets. Towards the end of the evening, Fly Tone, Lo Boyz, and J Ruck performed for the crowd that stayed attentive during the close to four hour performance span. Closing out the evening was Guttaman, ending things with "World Premiere". It indeed was a "world premiere", placing Baltimore on the proverbial hip hop map with a purpose. Instead of Baltimore vying for respect in the hip hop community, the Baltimore hip hop community brought respect to the inner city by showing that social activism is alive and well. With the spirit and soul of Bea Gaddy permeating the atmosphere throughout the three-day event, "Hip Hop For The Homeless" was an event for the ages, and it was fitting to have Jeff Majors close out "Hip Hop For The Homeless" with a succinct prayer. He ended with a joyous "hip hop", giving hope that this culture we call hip hop will continue that legacy of social activism. Baltimore's hip hop community and supporters was as positively reflective as the multitude of chrome rims at Rim Source. We should all be so proud!
|A SPECIAL HIP HOP FOR THE HOMELESS MOMENT|
For further information regarding "Hip Hop For The Homeless", the e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.