Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival Day 3: Bodega Education Initiative ‘Beyond The Mic’


The continuation of the 2011 Brooklyn Hip Hop Fest, which has been extremely on point for the past three days, decided to delve into the Hip Hop discussion from a cultural impact point of view. Held at The Higgins Hall Auditorium of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn right off of Lafayette St, the Bodega Education Initiative was an educational presentation that left everyone in the room with a pride to be incorporated into the Hip Hop world.

Councilman Ras Baraka opened the event with a few words on his history with Hip Hop. “Hip Hop represents a big black fist—a shout” he said in his thought-provoking speech. A screening of Copyright Criminals, a intensely fascinating documentary, gave a great report on the importance of sample-based music and the question on whether it’s valid to call music sampling ‘lazy’ and if it’s right to prosecute DJ’s and artists that sample music (the example of Gilbert O’Sullivan suing Biz Markie over the unauthorized sample of his song Alone Again (Naturally) on Biz’s Alone Again is definitely an eye-opener).

After the documentary, a discussion was held with Brooklyn Funk Productions Ysae Southwell, entertainment lawyer Matthew Middleton, The Bomb Squad’s Johnny Juice and Audio Two’s Milk Dee on board as panelists. All guys answered with a unanimous “no” when asked is sampling considered lazy. Ysae compared sampling to a mosaic and considers it “an orchestration” while Milk posed the question “How is sampling any different from one artist being influenced by another artist?”

When the discussion was over, individual panels were held throughout the venue, with The Hip Hop Journalism one being the main focus. Journalists Christopher Weingarten and Kelefa Sanneh, along with Hip Hop DX Editor-In Chief Jake Paine, sat on board to discuss the ever-burning question “is this the end of music journalism?” Weingarten commented that it’s “not at the end, but we’re in a ‘down.’ Budget is the main reason.”

Senior Vice President at Berklee College Of Music Dr. Larry Simpson closed the event with a few words of his own on the Hip Hop culture. “[Hip Hop] has impacted every aspect of life” he said in his speech. He also awarded the winner of the freestyle battle Emcee Jermaine with a Berklee Music Scholarship for a free course at the prestigious school, said to be the largest music college in the world and home to over 200 Grammy winners (think Esmeralda Spalding).

The day commenced with a performance by The J Dilla Ensemble (pictured above), a collection of musicians of various colors and creeds that really stole the show (the violin solo could only be described as dope). The positivity coming from this year’s Brooklyn Hip Hop Fest is going on until Saturday, so get to Brooklyn and experience the movement! — Keenan Higgins

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