Hampton University's School of Liberal Arts hosted its first Art of Hip-Hop conference Feb. 11 - 12. The theme was "Do You Still Love H.E.R (Hearing Every Rhyme)?" The conference included a silent auction built on one of the four tiers of hip-hop, graffiti. (The other tiers explored were DJ; The Emcee and Break Dancing.)
The artwork featured many artists who have made a lasting impact on the industry since it began more than 40 years ago. Patrons were given the opportunity to listen to hip-hop music from different decades, while enjoying the work of HU students.
Frederick "Freedom" Williams, who attended HU in the late 80's was chosen to be the honoree of this year's conference. Williams is the former front man and co-founder of the international, multi-platinum selling group C&C Music Factory. He sold over eight million records and has written children's books. He has also written history chapters and screen plays. Williams spoke to the student audience on his success, and how he struggled to remain humble through the experiences and stay connected to his roots.
Day two of the conference featured events and panel discussions targeting the current state of hip-hop and the development of the culture. There were debates on the state of rap and how it ties into the hip-hop community, if at all. Another topic explored the role of women in the industry and how they have been demoted to being video vixens and degraded subjects of rap lyrics. Radio personalities, Dominique Da Diva and Paris Nicole spoke on their oppositions to how women are viewed within the industry, but also recognized that type of music will always be popular on the radio because it sells. The panelists were questioned on how the community can change the views of the public, and who will be the future of hip-hop.
"Don't be afraid to be yourself. It is important that you find out what your purpose is and go for it. Be cautious of what you listen to. Listen responsibly," said Dominique Da Diva, of 103 Jamz. "It all starts with one person, one trailblazer, someone who doesn't conform to the mainstream view of what hip-hop is. "
The conference ended with a showcase of hip-hop through the decades. HU students performed scenes portraying the evolution of hip-hop, from its origins in the Bronx, NY in the 1970's and engulfing its four tiers.
-Sechemelia Lewis '15