Thursday, February 19, 2009

No Sleep 'til Ellensberg

Plenty to talk about when it comes to hip-hop. Tonight, Feb. 19, the Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas presents "The Black Face of Hip-Hop", a dialogue on local race relations, the roots of hip-hop in Seattle, and the question of what it means to be “conscious” within a hip-hop framework. The evening's panelists include Dave Meinert, manager of local hip-hop luminaries Blue Scholars and Common Market. At the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5, free for students.

Way out in Ellensberg, Central Washington University is hosting two hip-hop superstars as part of their Distinguished Artist lecture series. Rapper Talib Kweli and journalist Jeff Chang will be at CWU’s Student Union on Feb. 26.

Kweli was one of the stars of the 1990's renaissance of conscious, Afrocentric hip-hop. His big breakthrough came with the still great record Black Star, a collaboration with MC Mos Def. Kweli was one of the founders of the Black August Benefit Concert Series which raises money for the defense of Black political prisoners.

Chang was the co-founder of the excellent Solesides/Quannum Projects label and is the author and scholar behind Can't Stop, Won't Stop, the single best book out there on the history of hip-hop music and culture. The book, published in 2005, is a 30 year survey of the cultural landscape, moving from the Bronx in the 1970's, to post-imperial Jamaica, through the black-Jewish racial conflicts of 1980's New York, to the bling-encrusted corporate rap of today. It's a phenomenal book, well worth reading whether or not you're thinking of heading out to Ellensberg.

The conversation starts at 7 p.m.Tickets are free and available through the CWU Diversity Education Center.

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