The opening ceremony for the second annual Hip-Hop Week MKE was held at City Hall on August 19, kicking off the only event of its kind in America sponsored by a city government.
Since the 1982 release of “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Hip-Hop has been a powerful voice for the voiceless within urban communities. Hip-Hop represents and narrates the stories of those who have been crushed by the war on drugs, police brutality, subpar education, and economic hardship. Today, there are tens of millions of voting Hip-Hop fans of every race, gender and ethnicity between the ages of 18 to 55, an age group that will represent more than 60% of the electorate in 2020.
Alderman Khalif Rainey brainstormed the groundbreaking idea for a Hip-Hop week to honor the cultural influence of the revolutionary music genre, but also as an educational platform for the Milwaukee community. Running this year from August 19 to 25, Hip-Hop Week MKE addresses three core issues, mental and physical health, civic engagement, and financial literacy
“What we want to do during this week is engage those who have become disenchanted with with government,” said Alderman Rainey. “We’re putting the medicine in the peanut butter, so to speak, or making these conversations more palatable to a constituent we want to get engaged.”
The week will feature daily Hip-Hop-powered community engagement activities including “Hip-Hop Goes To The Polls,” with keynote speaker Brad “Scarface” Jordan, who is the first major Hip-Hop artist ever to run for public office; “Healthy Bars: A Hip-Hop Conversation On Health & Fitness” hosted by Stic Man of Dead Prez, and “A Hip-Hop Seminar On Financial Literacy & Real Estate” organized by DJ Envy, co-host of the popular morning show “The Breakfast Club.”
Hip-Hop Week MKE will celebrate the old and new schools of Hip-Hop culture. Events include “The Hip-Hop Museum Pop-Up Experience,” which showcases an exhibit of the world’s largest collection of Hip-Hop artifacts and memorabilia. Then three nights of live music events, including an opening night performance by female rapper Megan Thee Stallion, and a closing night show starring Kevin Gates, and the “Hip Hop Legacy Awards Show & Concert” honoring legends including Scarface, Bun B, Mystikal, Devin The Dude, and Do Or Die, along with Milwaukee’s own Speech from Arrested Development, Coo Coo Cal and others.
“The Hip-Hop vote is a sleeping giant we are going to awaken and mobilize starting right here in Milwaukee with Hip-Hop Week MKE,” added Alderman Rainey. “With the formula and lineup of events we have put together, I believe we can ignite this important voting demographic, and empower and inspire Hip-Hop voters all over America.”
For 2019, Alderman Rainey enlisted the expertise of Dave Mays, Hip-Hop media entrepreneur and the creator of “The Source” magazine. Mays started the magazine out of his Harvard dorm room in 1988 as a single-page newsletter, and during the 1990s it grew into the #1 selling music magazine on newsstands in the world, known as the Bible of Hip-Hop.
“Hip-Hop is the most dominant music and most influential culture spanning three generations: Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z,” said Mays. “This means that collectively the Hip-Hop community is the largest and most diverse voting demographic in America.”
Hip-Hop Week MKE is sponsored by the City of Milwaukee in partnership with dozens of business and community organizations.