[ MIC CRENSHAW: Cultural Activist ]
Chicago-born poet and emcee Michael (Mic) Crenshaw fell in love with music at a young age while living in Minneapolis. His teenage years were challenging as he actively confronted white supremacist gangs that were a growing part of the hard-core music scene. He eventually chose to escape the violence and moved to Portland, where he quickly became one of the most respected artists in the Northwest, and his community efforts have had both local and international impact.
In addition to his highly-acclaimed work in spoken word and hip hop, Mic founded GlobalFam, a non-profit project to create and maintain a computer center for disadvantaged youth in Burundi, Central Africa. Over 400 people have received free training, and it is now expanding, generating revenue and creating jobs. Mic also partnered with Education Without Borders (EWOB), which supports education, music, and art initiatives in Portland and beyond, and also serves as an umbrella for the local Books For Prisoners chapter and GlobalFam itself. GlobalFam has blossomed into a music label, production, promotion, artist management, and education organization providing mainstream entertainment that supports Social Justice Activism. Mic also continues with his musical artistry and cultural activism as a member of the Afrikan HipHop Caravan.
[ AFRIKAN HIPHOP CARAVAN ]
In response to the humdrum of information and analysis about Afrika, where there is stagnation on how and who can fix it, a group of young Afrikan thinkers, artists, and cultural activists have decided that their voices are relevant, organized, powerful – and must be heard!
The Afrikan Hiphop Caravan is a movement-building initiative that annually brings various grassroots Hiphop activist networks and social movements together. This year in November, the Afrikan Hiphop Caravan will focus on the theme of socio-economic justice. The project's aim is to debate, as well as to celebrate, the relevance and contribution of Hiphop to community struggles and the politics of building alternatives in Cape Town, Harare, Arusha and Nairobi.
Practical Sessions: The Afrikan Hiphop Concerts are within our working-class community, one-day arts and culture events that will start early in the afternoon to allow young people to safely participate, and, besides performances, also consist of small workshops that are designed to introduce the fundamental elements of Hiphop Culture to a wide sector of the community.
The Concerts seek to offer a platform to Hiphop activists from the participating collectives to collaborate on performances and street art, to spread socially-aware messages, and to explore the cultural milieu of the respective local community. The Concerts are organized by local Hiphop collectives which are based in the respective communities, and have thus established organic links with residents as well as community activists who are engaged in daily social struggles. The Concerts are designed to educate and raise awareness about pertinent issues the various working class communities are facing, and hence also provide an interface between Hiphop collectives, social movements, and the community.
Moreover, the Concerts offer performance space to community-based Hiphop activists, who often struggle with marginalization and isolation because they are ignored by the commercial music industry that is notorious for peddling consumerism and materialism. In most countries, community-based artists are denied access to the airwaves because of their political content. In order to amplify their voices, the Afrikan Hiphop Caravan will bring Hiphop activists from different parts of the continent, as well as from abroad, to participate in the Hiphop Concerts.
Theoretical Sessions: the Afrikan Hiphop Conference will be organized in each city, and will be comprised of presentations of papers and theoretical discussions on the relevance/contribution of Hiphop to community struggles as the basis of a broader struggle for self-emancipation, as well as to the politics of building alternatives.
The Conferences are united by focusing on a common theme: Economic Justice. Thus, a central question under discussion will focus on how Hiphop Culture – representing the voice of the youth – relates to and can contribute to building liberated and transparent African economies – autonomous of foreign domination. However, also welcome are submissions that deal with other topic areas, including:
• Hiphop as a tool for political and/or economic emancipation
• The relation and interaction between Hiphop and other social movements
• The interaction between African Hiphop and the state
• Transcultural flows, or the interplay between the local and global in African Hiphop
• Feminist perspectives on African Hiphop
• The linguistic, literary and poetic contributions of Hiphop to African arts and culture
• The dichotomy between ‘Mainstream’ and ‘Underground’ Hiphop in Africa
• The influence of ideologies and religion, such as Rastafarianism, Christianity, Pan-Africanism and Black Power, on African Hiphop Culture and/or lyrics
• The impact of Hiphop on urban youth culture and identity formation