Local promoters bring classic hip-hop artists to Akron to help bridge generation gap
This Saturday, Lock 3 Park goes old school.
Local promoters and community activists Keepers of the Art are once again bringing some hip-hop history to downtown Akron.
From 6 to 11:30 p.m., Lock 3 Park will play host to the K.O.A.’s latest entry in its Hip Hop Preservation Project series featuring pioneering DJ Grandmaster Flash, family-friendly emcee Chubb Rock (“the man with the plan”), and party starters Whodini and Columbus DJ O-Sharp holding it down between sets.
In the past decade, K.O.A. has brought many legends and beloved hip-hop artists to the park, including MC Lyte, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick and EPMD.
It’s a good lineup and older hip-hop heads will enjoy seeing Chubb Rock run through his hits such as “Ya Badd Chubbs,” his two Billboard Rap chart-toppers “Just The Two of Us” and the motor-mouthed “Treat ‘Em Right.”
Whodini, one of the first hip-hop groups to play arenas in the 1980s, also had a string of classics, including “Five Minutes of Funk,” “Freaks Come Out at Night,” “Funky Beat,” “Friends” and “One Love.”
Rock Hall of Famer Grandmaster Flash is known for DJ innovations such as perfecting the basics of scratching and hand-building. He's also known for modifying mixers aimed at giving himself, and eventually other DJs, more creative control over mixing and using breaks and other now-basic hip-hop DJ skills.
In addition to spinning, Flash will also be doing some talking about the art of deejaying with the help of a large screen that will allow the audience to see his legendary hands in motion.
But triggering flashbacks isn’t the only concept behind the show. Unlike rock or R&B, where legendary artists are venerated, hip-hop has had a generation gap for some time. One of the worse fates in hip-hop was to be considered “old,” and the disconnect has grown as hip-hop has become a dominant force in pop music.
Now, older fans and artists often vocally condemn the sounds of now, and many younger artists and their fans simply have little interest and don’t want to hear anything that came before their current favorites.
K.O.A. hopes to get younger and older hip-hop fans to bridge that gap and understand the culture is connected to and runs through all of the music.
“It’s one of the reasons we’re doing the Hip Hop Preservation Project. We’re looking to have an open dialogue and build some relationships, and put the younger heads on to some of the cats that laid the foundation for what we call hip-hop,” K.O.A. production manager Bayshawn Seay said.
K.O.A. Executive Director Ismael Al-Amin said the group wants to remind the community of the pre-pop hip-hop worldview of “peace, love, unity and having fun.”
“Young kids in urban communities should be able to have outlets to those elements. Kids should be able to go somewhere and learn how to use turntables or do mural art,” said Al-Amin, who is also a professor at Kent State.
“These outlets worked then and we know they’ll work now, and that’s our goal with the preservation project — to preserve this music and keep our pioneers propped up in the front where they should be," he said.
There are popular hip-hop artists who use their musical voice for more than glorifying their own bad-ass images, such as multiple Grammy winner and Pulitzer Prize-winning emcee Kendrick Lamar. But looking at the pop charts, much of the hip-hop tunes are not about much.
“Hip-hop is more than just about partying; it’s always had a social component," Seay said. "These artists have seen the world and they have experiences they can express in their music, and it would be nice if we could get some other people to start talking about what’s going on in this country right now.”
Live at Lock 4
On Thursday, Akron rock band Stems will close the 2018 season of Live at Lock 4 with a record-release show for their new album, “Your Sullen Ways Are Getting Boring.”
The band — singer-guitarists Justin Seeker and Joel McAdams, drummer Joshua Weiss and bassist Michael Voris — has released a couple of EPs. The new album features the group's brand of rock, which encompasses elements of melodic, bass-driven, dark-wave, catchy guitar rock and a few softer near-ballads.
Also on the bill: local hip-hop band Red Rose Panic, which headlined this year’s PorchRokr, and galloping power prog-rock thoroughbreds Actual Form.
It’s a pretty eclectic lineup and a good way to end the season for folks who like rock you can sing along to, upbeat hip-hop you can groove to and heavy, knotted, serpentine instrumentals that beg for your best air-guitar playing and/or drumming. Because, let’s be real. No one outside of Rush fans ever plays air bass.
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3758. Like him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml, and follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.