Update: MPR/tpt hip-hop event postponed indefinitely

Categories: Rap/Hip Hop
HipHopLettercollage.jpg
Publicity photos
L-R: Kevin Beacham, Desdamona, and Toki Wright
A coalition of members of the Minnesota hip-hop community have spoken out against a proposed event intended to be a celebration of the local scene. On Monday, an open letter to Minnesota Public Radio and Twin Cities Public Television was distributed requesting that the May 10 event be postponed.

Update (4/2/14): 89.3 the Current has responded to the letter, and the event has been postponed indefinitely while "continuing a dialogue between the institution, the organizers, and the community."

See also:
5 ways for Twin Cities hip hop and press to work together


The names at the bottom of the hip-hop community's open letter include co-host of the Current's hip-hop program H2, Kevin Beacham, who is expected to be an organizer of the event. Several names of members of a panel to discuss the event held last week at Intermedia Arts -- Slug, Guante, Desdamona, and Toki Wright -- also are on the letter. Their stated goal is "an intentional, sustainable, mutually beneficial partnership and collaboration."

The rest of the names on the document include BDotCroc, Keno Evol, Manuel Levins Holden, Tish Jones, Tou Saiko Lee, I Self Devine (Chaka Mkali), Mastermind, Brother Ali, and D'Allen White.

According to a detailed Local Current blog describing the planning process and mission of the event released last week after the meeting:
The goals for the May 10 event at the Fitz have not changed significantly since the planning began, but we recognized that we could do a much better job stating those goals publicly. Here are the key things we hope to provide with this event:
- A celebration and sampling of some of the great things that the Minnesota hip-hop scene has to offer, presented in a way that honors and represents the community;
- A performance-based event with some discussion of what drives and inspires artists, and what makes Minnesota unique; and
- A boost in exposure for talented artists who may not be on the radar of the existing tpt, Current, and Fitzgerald Theater audiences.
...
The upcoming event at the Fitz is not a one-off occurrence for tpt and MPR; rather, we hope that it will be just one of the many pieces of dialogue that will take place this spring and summer.
The open letter, which circulated on Tuesday, notes that the public radio and TV institutions "should be applauded" for their willingness to reach out, but given the scope of the event, "more voices at the table, more elements of our community represented, and a more intentional, transparent planning process" are requested.

Gimme Noise contacted several members of last week's panel regarding the letter, but did not receive any replies.

"We want to continue this conversation and have a deeper dialogue with TPT and the event production team before any decisions are made," MPR said in a statement.

Here is the letter:
State_Of_Hip_Hop_Open_Letter.jpg
Click to enlarge
Update (4/2/14): The lineup for the event was expected to be announced on 89.3 the Current on Tuesday, April 1. But instead, the Current's Andrea Swensson -- one of the event's co-organizers -- posted an open response to the hip-hop community's letter.

"This is an opportunity and a positive step forward," she says. "If we're going to put on a show of this scale and make it something that the community can be proud of, then we need the time and the breathing room to do it right."

Here's the response, signed by Swensson, the Current program director Jim McGuinn, and MPR president/CEO Jon McTaggert:
2014_04_01-Letter-to-hip-hop-community-1260x1632.jpg
Click to enlarge
Update (4/7/14): Here is a statement from TPT and MN Original:
We understand and are fully supportive of the decision by our friends and colleagues at MPR to postpone this production. Twin Cities Public Television (tpt) and MN Original look forward to continuing our good work with the hip hop community and Minnesota's entire artistic community. 

Dianne Steinbach
David Roth
The entire MN Original staff
Where the process goes from here is uncertain. In Swensson's words: "I don't know exactly what the next steps will be, or what this event (or events?) will look like after working more closely with the community. But I do know that I am eager, open, and curious to see what we can build when we all work together."

This is an opportunity for growth, compromise, and understanding for both sides. Intersecting the worlds of public radio and television stations with a raw and boundless Minnesota hip-hop landscape was never going to be easy, but it feels like both parties are on the right path.

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37 comments
bballenconsulting
bballenconsulting

We see the posting of the "open letter" penned by the MN artist collective following the "State of Hip Hop" event, and the response written by MPR executives (minus employee, May 10th event organizer and panel member Kevin Beacham).  Where is the press statement forwarded to the media the morning of 3/24/14, (including to Reed Fischer), and read to the public on camera PRIOR to the "State of Hip HOP" event outside in front of Intermedia Arts?



It seems as though the voice of the people who culturally own and authenticate "The State of Hip Hop"has been disrespectfully ignored, and dismissed from the conversation by the media although overt effort has been made to "speak to" the matter.



Reports of an "original letter" being circulated by artist prompting the indefinite postponing of the MPR May 10th event is merely a cover for the undercurrent of the "Real Story" buzzing beneath the surface. The "original letter" came from the community and was circulating in the room DURING the event.  Another example of the "Elvis" syndrome!



Below is the full statement sent to the press the morning of 3/24/14, and read on camera prior to the Intermedia Arts event.  For those who absorb information better visually....below is a link to the multimedia presentation expressing the same perspective.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ix0pgZDV4so



List of things concerning the involvement of MPR, The Current and TPT associating any messaging around “HIP HOP” culture within the black ARTS community in Minnesota…


1 The lack of a Black music format, d.j.’s, staff, producers, editors, writers, administration, executives or targeted programming directed to the public interest concerns of the Black Community. The Current and it’s parent organization of Minnesota Public Radio has less then 5 Black Staff out of an organization which employs over 100 people. TPT and it’s mission to serve the public interest of the Black Community via television has the same disappointing staffing/programming concerns. 


2. The historical symbolism and significance of denied access and unequal treatment of black hip hop artist/promoters of the culture within Minneapolis & Saint Paul Clubs and other performance venues.


3. MPR and it’s other media partners selected ignorance regarding the cultural context and broader awareness of systemic challenges young black males face when demonstrating artistic excellence. (I.E. The Blues and the Elvis phenomena)


4. A lack of cultural appreciation and proper documentation of the Black Community’s foundational development of Hip Hop within Minnesota’s musical and artistic community. 


5. The urgency to create specific platforms of recognition and opportunity for young Black Hip Hop artist to nurture exhibited talents and skills through the ARTS.


6. A call to accountability in the African American community regarding media, organizational, political, social, educational and artistic support to keep our stories and issues of youth culture and it’s contributions ALIVE.


7. Hip Hop is a black Art form that was birthed out of the necessities created by struggle and challenges of inner city Black Youth from the South Bronx, New York. It is a story and culture that has traveled, impacted and laid legacies in the state of Minnesota but also, continues to do so throughout the entire world. Hip Hop at it’s foundation and purpose has formed critical analysis of what artistic voices are in the ongoing self determination of African Americans dual reality to exist as equally human within an unequal unjust society.


The purpose of our unified collective stand here today is to bring out the continued gentrified re narrative of what Hip Hop is within the years of stimulation of minds, ears and broader stimulus in the communities making up the state of Minnesota, it’s main soundtrack being Minneapolis & Saint Paul.


In the month of February last year at Hopkins High School, a small group of black students faced a violation in their identified rights of having equal access and a safe school educational climate. A school endorsed athletic theme known as “Ghetto Spirit Day” was allowed to function as an all day celebration in the suburban mostly white school. “Ghetto Spirit Day” was an activity where white students dressed up in the most stereotypical images of a fictional “Rapper” evoking additional overtly racist conversations that served as a disrespect of Hip Hop culture. “Ghetto Spirit Day” was a tremendous emotional attack on young black males trying to safely function in a school and a state where their Educational experiences has been documented as failing African American students and families.


This specific situation at Hopkins High School influenced a very small group of black male students to protest their denied dignity and lack of protected school rights. The group of students organized a peaceful non violent demonstration of the disrespect to “Hip Hop” culture and it’s negative influenced imagery of young black males, (ironically the same group who laid the foundation of the culture). A decision was made to hang posters to reinforce positive messaging of black male identity on the walls next to other posters of the school spirit week.


As a result of this incident, a local radio station that covered some of the initial news of Hopkins High School’s “Ghetto Spirit Day” participated in a form of irresponsible and unethical journalism. The young black male students were unfairly identified as participating in negative behavior and noted without proper investigation that the black male students did something criminally wrong.


That radio station was MPR, the Current is a media outlet of MPR. This same organization is now positioning itself as a communications outlet to authenticate Hip Hop and it’s contributions created in Minnesota?


This is a call to accountability for all of us who profess to appreciate HIP HOP culture and specifically the ongoing struggle of young black males not only in the collective ARTS, but also including the conditions that create artistic expressions 

based on the real life experiences of:

Broken education systems, juvenile incarceration, drug infested neighborhoods, youth violence, broken families, job/education/home ownership disparities, homelessness, political/social/organizational exploitation, and the promising intellectual genius of our young black youth that can still excel within these conditions and make music for Minnesota and beyond….


With that we are organizing a collaborative community based effort to highlight our stories, our culture, and our youth to be enjoyed by all. We acknowledge MPR, the Current and TPT’s right to tell their story but we question the sincere understanding and attention to the details of the many lives that have been cut short or ignored in the pursuit of Hip Hop’s collective contributions. Minnesota’s Black Community has shared it’s culture for years it should be visibly included if not told and documented by those who authored it. It is a shame to all that it (Hip Hop) recently has been accepted by the identified Public Institutions of communications when it has become acceptable to the majority white youth who participate in it.


The power of definition is in those who write the word!!!



Media Contact 612.460.1772

carnivalminds
carnivalminds

Your profits are not enough by cutting your overhead with machines and having same-sy arrangements, everytime? Now you got to bring in some sort of "culture"?
cash rules everything around me, but not that good.

laxx1559
laxx1559

White people talking about white rappers in a predominately white area.  What possibly could go wrong?

true_nahar
true_nahar

this very publication is a perpetuation of the problem. these people were on the panel. there was a conversation at the inception of this plan that enabled the budget, the time, the venue, the actual panel participants and the topic. the folks sitting in front of the community members that day were well aware of their relationship with the media and the artist community and the hip hop community when they agreed to be involved in the discussion. taking a "stand" would have been to make sure that people who were not aired on any of the media organizations involved were on the panel. declining a position of authority to a member of the real hip hop community would have been the ultimate activist move. furthermore, it was truthmaze and other stewards of hip hop culture, aka "rap's baby", that stood outside of the community venue and voiced his knowledge on the issue. it was community members that held these folks accountable and again we find the darlings in the light. this conversation is about access for everyone. why are we not exploring at this point the investment of RSE in the Current? is there one?

ElliotPark
ElliotPark

Austin City Limits has produced 1 episode in its 35 year history that centered around hip hop music. TPT attempts to avoid this kind of slight with their MN Original program and the hip hop community organizes to request the event be delayed even if that potentially means the event is ultimately scrapped. A bird in hand is worth 2 in the bush.

Reason
Reason

No show for you!

Conan Troutman
Conan Troutman

I am proud of what Mn has for a hip hop scene but this just seems silly. Maybe I am missing something with this whole deal but Mn hip hop seems a lot more well represented on The Current than other genre's of local music.

David Kay
David Kay

My Mn friends are really tired of me harping on this, but the Aussie "youth" station of their government-funded radio, Triple J, has it about right. They present rock, hip-hop and electronic about the same. I just want to encourage MNers to embrace all local musical expressions. I'm looking forward to hearing lots this summer. p.s. Triple J doesn't slather on the lowest-common-denominator music, either (I can't listen to Midwest radio)

TwinTown77
TwinTown77

Why not just have a large, local hip-hop festival?  

grammar_cop_lol
grammar_cop_lol

And...you can tell they didn't each individually sign - there are only like 2 different handwritings. 

k2yeb
k2yeb topcommenter

Look a me, Feel sorry for me, Everything in my life is unfair society we now live in.

Scoops
Scoops

This all seems way too serious. Couldnt the letter just have said "hey if you want us to be involved were gonna need more notice than a month and half." 

ElliotPark
ElliotPark

I've gotten inspired to write a rap song about this situation. What rhymes with ridiculous?

Alirox
Alirox

Unfortunately, rap y hip-hop are dying. Every snot-nosed punk I know is into EDM.

eeee
eeee

those signatures are fake.


Eric Williams
Eric Williams

This colab feat MPR better not only be intentional and sustainable, but one that is also mutually beneficial and involves dope rhymes about social justice and one's sardonic but bittersweet take on a failed relationship!! We hip-HOPuppying this!

Jeremy Martin
Jeremy Martin

I heard that the real issue was an insistence that brown M&Ms be allowed to participate.

Jennie Cauwels
Jennie Cauwels

(And I'm saying that as a sustaining member of MPR)

Jennie Cauwels
Jennie Cauwels

I saw this coming, and was kind of hoping this would happen. The Current's (and their listeners') idea of "hip hop" is not representative of the scene as a whole. It's just not. This event smacks of cultural appropriation. It was a dick move to go ahead and schedule it before having the public discussion about it, and to just assume that the hip hop community would be falling over themselves to participate.

Mike Boe
Mike Boe

Maybe wait to see if the first event is successful (has a full audience) before wanting to plan sequels? Cart before the horse?

ElliotPark
ElliotPark

This should be an April Fool's Day hijinx.

joss.berrett
joss.berrett

Great to see a fellow Aussie in Minnesota. I must say, I love the Current and the Js equally, and for sure notice the difference in focus for The Current. Anyway, it seems to me that hip hop is often represented well at shows and festivals in Minneapolis already, so I am not sure why they are so worried about the representation for this one! 

foolsday
foolsday

Should the Walker hold a public forum about who should play at " Rock the Garden" too? I don't get this, RTG does not always represent everyone either, I must be missing something. 

joss.berrett
joss.berrett

By the way, this isn't some kind of April Fools is it folks? 

foolsday
foolsday

but after this I bet a bunch of festivals will think twice before booking hip hop and dealing with this every time. 


RationalReader
RationalReader

@true_nahar so well stated and articulated... and apparently so true that you got the last word in. nicely done. thanks for helping to wake us up.

true_nahar
true_nahar

@ReedFischer @true_naharyou posted three panelists that regularly get covered in local media as the people who were the ones who initiated the conversation about the lack of access. they were the panelists, kevin beacham was an organizer. them pictured as the "well thinking hip hop stewards" is misleading. they were there to have a conversation tailored to the white audience that would surely show up. had the community members in opposition of the whole ordeal not shown their faces, the status quo would have been maintained and there would be a show on may 10th. you could have pictured the hopkins teens that were there to talk about how the local starlets of hip hop abandoned them when hip hop culture was being used as a weapon and being mocked at their school. you could have explored a bit more and found the names and photos of the people who had a press conference outside of intermedia arts to state their problems with tpt and mpr as sponsors of such an event. the issue is that we have an achievement gap, a wealth gap, a health gap, the largest in the country and yet the result of these gaps which is the black art of survival is flourishing for white artists who have a budget and seemingly no respect for the history of the culture or its innovators.

ReedFischer
ReedFischer moderator

@true_nahar @ReedFischer  I just want to know what we did here that is perpetuating a problem, and what the specific problem is. No kidding around. rfischer [at] citypages.com

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