“I be having conversations with Cornel West” © Mike Bigga
Come March 26th, Princeton University’s Hip Hop: Art and Life student group will be hosting “Hip-Hop 2.0: The Price Of A New Era” and I’ve been invited to take part in one of several panels they’re presenting. Dr. Cornel West, Dr. Imani Perry and several other notable figures and media members will be involved as well.
My thoughts and reactions?
— Early on, I knew TSS would never win awards, gain prominent recognitions or even be considered large on a mainstream level. Things have definitely grown and changed in infinite ways, but we’ll always remain underdogs. None of the Crew resides on the coasts, allowing us stronger media ties. I’ve never really cared much for having close relationships with artists so I knew we would probably never be first in premiering “exclusive new mp3s!” or anything of that nature. To be asked to participate in an undertaking like Hip-Hop 2.0 is more rewarding than any hollow award or extra small print mention.
Ultimately, we do what we do for our readers and ourselves. All I ever wanted was a voice, to provide a platform for others and to help provide a centralizing point for an audience that I didn’t feel like was being catered to. Meeting new people, exchanging ideas and being involved in helping to build things, these are greater than hanging out with Artist A, surrounded by buxom models at some vacation destination. I’m not holier than thou by any means but I know my makeup. As a quiet, slightly neurotic Gem, I prefer less of the limelight and more of the intimate, controlled environments.
— When I was sixteen or so and on my extra military mind shxt, I devoured books on African-American studies, philosophy, the African diaspora and religion. Dr. Cornel West happens to be one of the authors whose books I read faithfully, big words and all. Still to this day, I check his offerings and The Cornel West Reader occupies space in my reading rotation, even though I’m only nearly halfway through after being in over two years. Since it’s not a race, but marathon, it’s more important to digest in his words and thoughts at a measured pace. I’ll finish the book before I die and then pass it to my children.
I doubt we’ll be on the same panel, yet being mentioned on the same program as the man is inspiring.
— When I mentioned it to my parents, my mom remarked with the usual, warm “that’s good, baby” and followed by asking “What are you going to wear?” She knows me. Since I’m a student of Uncle Russell’s hustle, chances are I’ll be draped in my usual blue oxford or kitted out in Nike Sportswear plus my camo 5 panel. Both she and Princeton are probably thankful the weather’s still cool enough to warrant sleeves, otherwise my Southern roots would show and I’d simply wear a white t-shirt. ‘Lo of course, but still.
— We all have dreams. Being featured in RESPECT was definitely above and beyond cool. Having an open line of communication with a select few artists, Nike and other brands, those are things I may have imagined once upon a time but I’d be selling wolf tickets if I said “Oh, I knew it was in the plans when I was twelve.” But this? Never in my wildest.
Obviously, I’m looking forward to it. If you’re in the Jersey area, please do stop by.